College Republicans split in vote over Trump, united in wanting country’s success

A Fake Patty's Day reveler takes a selfie at the Riley County Republican Party Caucus March 5, 2016, at Manhattan High School. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Not all members of the College Republicans voted for president-elect Donald Trump.

Taylor Latham, president of College Republicans and junior in financial management, Evan Steckler, vice president of College Republicans and junior in architectural engineering, and Kerrick Kuder, a member of College Republicans and senior in political science, sat down with the Collegian Thursday to talk about the results of Tuesday’s election.

Only Kuder voted for Trump, even though he did not support him from the beginning.

“It took me a little while to come around,” Kuder said, “but a huge issue for me is pro-life, and from a conservative standpoint, not just pro-life, in general I feel like Hillary Clinton was like playing Russian Roulette with a fully-loaded gun. At least we got a chance with Trump.”

Latham said she probably would have voted for Trump, but her absentee ballot from Barton County came in the mail too late for the election. Steckler said his absentee ballot from Missouri also came in too late, but he still filled it out for Evan McMullin, the Utah independent.

“He doesn’t necessarily represent me and a lot of my values as a person, but I also definitely believe that Donald Trump was a better alternative than Hillary Clinton,” Latham said.

“As a Republican woman … I’m glad that Hillary Clinton was not our first female president because I want a woman who is going to do a good job and represent women well,” Latham said. “And I think that Hillary Clinton would blow the chance of females ever having another female president.”

The members of the College Republicans as a whole were split over whether or not to vote for Trump, Latham said.

Trump won with 306 Electoral College votes, compared to Clinton’s 232. Nationwide, Trump received 59.8 million votes, or 47.5 percent, and Clinton 60.1 million, or 47.7 percent.

“I definitely think that it says that Americans were ready for a change,” Latham said. “They were ready for a change — they were ready for change back in 2008 and 2012 when they re-elected Obama — and I don’t think they’ve gotten the change they wanted.”

Trump won 10 of 15 of the so-called battleground states after he was projected to win only five.

“I think it says a lot about the Democratic base of the quote ‘working man’ — Bill Clinton’s base back in the ’90s — the fact that Trump was able to take Pennsylvania and then Michigan and Wisconsin,” Kuder said.

Steckler agreed with Kuder.

“There were just so many working-class people out there who feel like President Obama has let them down because he’s really railed against fossil fuels, coal, steel production and all these other things,” Steckler said. “There are a lot of people in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania who work in these industries and traditionally they may have voted Democrat.”

“Donald Trump appealed to them because their jobs matter to them probably more than just about anything else because their jobs provide their livelihoods for their children,” Steckler continued.

Social media outcry

“I think that social media definitely spurs hate for Trump, and I find it kind of ironic and hypocritical quite honestly that people are offended by Trump and his language and that he sometimes calls people bad names, but they’re out there on social media saying worse things than he’s ever said about anyone,” Latham said.

She said she has seen people burning flags, holding violent protests and calling for Trump’s assassination on social media.

“I’ve seen people calling for his assassination, and I don’t remember seeing Republicans out burning things and calling for people to die back in 2012 or 2008 when President Obama was elected and we weren’t happy,” Latham said.

Steckler said the name-calling of Trump supporters on social media exemplifies why he won.

“I have been defending minorities and supporting equal application of the law and the rights codified in the Constitution and all these things for my entire political life, but I get called racist and homophobic all the time,” Steckler said. “And I think that honestly is why Donald Trump was elected, because for so long so many Republicans have been called racist and misogynist and homophobic and anti-Muslim and all these other things, and they’re just fed up with it.”

Healing the nation

The College Republican leaders said Trump’s victory speech was a step toward bringing people together after a divisive election.

“You would not believe how many people I’ve talked to that just despise him and hate him with all their guts and have never heard the man speak,” Kuder said. “They’ve heard little snippets, like 10 seconds here and 10 seconds here, but for some of those Democrats, that might have been the first time they’ve ever listened to him for more than two minutes and they actually listened to his message.”

Latham said some Democrats liked Trump’s speech.

“I saw a lot of even Democrats posting on Facebook who watched Trump’s speech and they said, ‘You know, I hope that this is the man that people just elected,'” Latham said. “I do think that a lot of the things that Trump did and said and how he acted and his mannerisms in general throughout the election, I do believe that a lot of that was just to win.”

She said she thinks Trump is not as bad of a person as some people think.

“I don’t think that Trump is as bad as people have made him seem, and I don’t think that he is really, truly deep down as bad as he has made himself seem,” Latham said.

Steckler said the figurative barriers people put up among various groups of people need to be taken down so people can listen to each other.

“We need to start listening to people again,” Steckler said. “If we do that, even with divisive political leaders, the people can come together and start to solve problems better than we have over the last eight years. And hopefully President Trump and President Obama will contribute to that over this transition.”

Editor’s note: A story on the reactions of various minority groups to the results of the election was published in Thursday’s Collegian.

Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.