The unprecedented volatility of the 2016 presidential election cycle has hit home for the Hofstra College Republicans, who have decided they will not endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or any other candidate this year.
Nathaniel Aron, president of the club and a junior political science and finance major, explained how he upheld his duties as president to make the best decisions for the organization when they differed on their opinions regarding Trump.
“When I was elected the president of Hofstra College Republicans, I took the vow to uphold the conservative values regardless of who our [party’s] candidate was. The club seemed split on the idea of endorsing Donald Trump. If the club was split on it, I was not going to take a stance and endorse any candidate,” Aron said.
At the beginning of the semester, before the first presidential debate, club members were torn about how they felt about Trump as a candidate. On the day of the debate, it was announced that neither the club as a whole, nor individual members, were publicly endorsing the candidate during that time.
Other chapters of College Republicans faced similar problems when it came to supporting their party. Cornell University’s club endorsed the Libertarian Party’s nominee, Gary Johnson and Harvard’s organization has not endorsed the Republican nominee for the first time since its establishment in 1888.
Richard Himelfarb, a political science professor and the faculty advisor to the Hofstra chapter of the club, offered a solution to the mixed feelings on endorsement. “The event has been unprecedented, just like the candidacy of Donald Trump has been completely unprecedented. I basically said the issue should be debated in a transparent way and that they should vote,” he said. “I wanted to remind them that their job was to talk about these things publicly and as a club, and as a democracy the best way would be to … have a full venting of the issues and then to vote.”
Following the debate, the club met to make the final decision on endorsement. In order to promote fairness, the club held a vote which would ultimately decide if they would endorse the nominee. The vote was split and because of this outcome, they decided to not endorse any candidate and according to Aron, members peacefully agreed.
Sabrina Bekios, vice president of the club and a junior political science, legal studies and business major, said, “No Republicans can agree on this issue and we decided it was not fair to endorse a candidate if not everyone agrees.”
While the Hofstra Republicans were unable to agree on endorsing a presidential candidate, they were able to agree to campaign in other areas of government.
“We’ve been working on congressional campaigns such as Jack Martins, David Gurfein and Lee Zeldin, who are all great candidates that support our conservative values and have a proven record of doing so. And while we can’t unite under the presidential nominee, what unites the club is that we want a Republican Senate and Republican House,” Aron said.
Though the club has chosen not to endorse Trump, the executive members wanted to make sure that anyone who supports him has the option to be vocal about it.
“We wanted to make sure that every member in the club who does support Trump has the opportunity to campaign for him. We know someone who works for the Trump campaign and had those supporters get in contact with him,” Bekios said.
While the Hofstra Republicans do not agree on all areas of the Republican Party, Aron made one point very clear: “What you have to do as a club is to make sure that every member is respected regardless of their views.”