On Wednesday, the Georgetown College Republicans hosted “Being Republican in the Age of Trump,” a conversation about the Trump presidency. The event, moderated by Professor Anthony Arend, included six GUCR members who discussed a range of policy and personal issues from campaign behavior to foreign policy.
During the conversation, the main points of contention were based on President Trump’s temperament, economic issues and foreign policy. The anti-Trump side insisted that President Trump was not a true conservative and that his behavior was unbecoming of his office. The panelists cited his Twitter rants, the Billy Bush scandal, his comments about Mexicans and actions regarding immigrants and Muslim refugees to support their arguments.
Taylor Oster (SFS ’17) said that the moment she lost all respect for President Trump was when she heard the tapes released in October.
“If I was so upset with what was going on on my college campus, I could not in good conscience vote for someone who advocated for ‘grabbing someone’s p***y’ and think that this was excusable as ‘locker room talk,’” she said.
The pro-Trump side conceded that Trump’s comments on women were wrong but maintained that then-candidate Trump admitted it was a mistake and apologized to voters and his wife.
Those on the pro-Trump side focused on economic policies including Trump’s promises to cut taxes, push to keep manufacturing jobs in America and fight to ensure the U.S. stays competitive on the world stage through better trade deals. Zach Hughbanks (COL ’18) shared that for people like his parents, Trump represented a unique perspective and the only candidate willing to fight for their economic needs.
When Professor Arend pivoted the conversation to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, all six panelists nodded their heads with enthusiasm about Justice Scalia’s successor.
Although panelists were divided on whether free trade was good for the country, there was consensus on the threat of China to U.S. prosperity. Michael Parmiter (MSB ’18) explained how Trump’s stance on fair trade would combat China’s unfair manipulation of currency. Oster agreed that China’s actions were harmful to the U.S. and the global economy, while she suggested tweaking or adding China to the TPP could be a more appropriate solution.
Foreign policy was one of the most discussed issues of the night, focusing mostly on the immigration ban, NATO and Russia. The discussion was heated during this segment, particularly over Trump’s stance on immigration and Trump’s travel ban.
Parmiter stressed that measures taken by the administration were for national security, but Oster rebutted that the system is already effective and that a religious test would be counterproductive, despite the fact that the Trump administration has already denied that any immigration test would be religious in nature.
On NATO, both sides agreed that other member nations need to step up and strengthen their commitments to regional security. A panelist from the pro-Trump side praised the president’s approach of pushing others into taking on more responsibility and sharing the economic burden of NATO. Members of the anti-Trump side, however, insisted that the U.S. could never abandon NATO or risk global instability.
While both sides agreed that ISIS was undoubtedly one the greatest global threats, Russia was more of a contentious topic. The anti-Trump side criticized Trump’s relationship with Putin as a deviation from American values and an obstacle to our support for allies like Ukraine.
“President Trump is harder on Nordstrom than Russia,” said Richie Mullaney (COL ’18). “There’s not a Trump Doctrine because [Trump’s actions] don’t make sense together.”
Hughbanks rebutted that point, reminding everyone that the Cold War era was over.
“Why can’t we work with Russia on [ISIS]?” He asked.
GUCR President Allie Williams felt that it was an important to host the conversation about Trump.
“There’s definitely been some tension within our chapter, so I wanted to make sure that people whose voices aren’t necessarily always heard have a forum through which they could speak.”
Editor’s Note: Several panelists did not agree to being quoted in this article.