“Are you a Republican?” That question, if it was asked four years ago, would have received an immediate and proud, “Yes, I am!”
Now, almost three years into the presidency of Donald Trump, the supposed leader of the Republican Party, my response is less than enthusiastic. This is not because my beliefs have changed from four years ago, but because those ideas are not associated with today’s Republican Party.
Today, calling yourself a Republican automatically earns you different labels, such as sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and many others. I myself have been called these things by people who have no idea who I am beyond my party affiliation. Sometimes, I forego participating in meaningful class discussions because I do not want to be called these things or have my words misconstrued as an endorsement of the aforementioned ideas. There is a misconception on campus and the country as to what being a Republican means. Allow me to set the record straight.
If you want to study a Republican presidency, don’t look to Trump — consider President Ronald Reagan, who took over as president of a country which, in the course of just seven years prior to his presidency, had one president resign, had his two immediate successors removed from power by voters (one of whom was never elected to that office), and an economy in peril. President Reagan cut taxes and regulations, increased funding for the military, presided over a period of economic recovery, and changed the attitude of an entire nation. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that more voters saw Reagan as the best president since World War II than any other president.
I do not bring up these facts to praise the GOP, rather, I bring them up to highlight the Republican Party of which I claim to be a member, and to which many other Americans claim membership as well.
I am a Republican, but I do not support nor condone the words that come out of the current president’s mouth. It can be argued that President Trump is anything but a Republican, but that is a topic for another article.
I believe that everyone in this country should have equal opportunity, regardless of race, gender, or background. I believe that the best thing that the government can do is get out of the way and lives of ordinary citizens. It is not that I do not believe in the government and its ability to do good — I do; I just believe in people more.
I am a Republican, but I am not a climate change denier. I am from American Samoa, a small U.S. territory in the South Pacific — I have witnessed firsthand the damage caused by climate change. However, I do not believe that government targets, pollution taxes, and a top-down approach will help the situation. Just ask President Emmanuel Macron of France how it turned out for him — his government’s proposed tax increase on diesel, which would have disproportionately affected the working class, resulted in the yellow vest protests and months of domestic unrest. I believe in market-based solutions and working with the private sector to lower carbon emissions and pollution, as companies like Tesla, whose practices are disrupting the fossil fuel industry, and Ikea, which has invested billions of dollars in renewable energy, have had more success at combating climate change than the government has.
Finally, and most importantly, although I am a Republican, I do not hate Democrats.
It is almost a prerequisite for both parties to hate or distrust the “other side,” but this does not solve anything. I am more than willing to discuss politics with my liberal friends. In fact, I seek out these conversations — not because I want to start trouble or win an argument, but because that is how problems are solved.
On a recent trip to Northern Ireland with the Erasmus Living Learning Community, I learned the value of dialogue and empathy. The centuries-old divide between Catholics and Protestants in that region was due, in large part, to one side misunderstanding the motives of the other. That is why I am writing this article. In order to sit down and solve the problems that our country (and university) faces, it is necessary to know who “they” are.
I am a Republican, ask me why.