By Daniel Um
A Harvard Republican’s opinion on the splintered state of the party.
In light of the recent Iowa Caucus, the 2016 Presidential election seems to have captured every political junkie’s imagination. In order to get a Republican’s view on the issue, and in particular on the seemingly fractured state of their party’s presidential field, Forum Writer Daniel Um ‘19 interviews Wyatt Hayden ’19, a Harvard Republican.
DU: How does this Republican race differ from that of previous years?
WH: This one’s obviously a lot different because the main candidate is not an establishment Republican; of course, Donald trump is just a businessman, which is definitely not something we haven’t seen in the past, but I think it reflects a general trend in America right now — kind of anti-establishment, which can be seen with the Democrats as well [with] Bernie Sanders.
DU: What is your opinion of the splintered Republican Party?
WH: Obviously it’s not good for the party, but I think it reflects a pretty big part of the people. I guess they realize that the people elected to office in 2010 and 2012 didn’t really do what they promised to do, [like] cut spending… so now they’re looking for an outsider, which has caused this big splinter. So I don’t think it’s good for the party, but, like Obama said, it’s hard to really see what Republicans stand for; it’s easier to see what they stand against. They stand against Obama; that’s pretty much it.
DU: Who are you leaning towards or what are you looking for in a candidate?
WH: So I actually like Rand Paul, because I feel like the kind of social issues of the more popular Republican candidates are outdated, especially because younger voters today don’t have problems with gay marriage or abortion. Unfortunately, if you support Rand Paul, you’re marginalized as a voter. If I was picking for a realistic candidate… out of practicality, Ted Cruz. Even though I don’t agree with him on social issues, he’s definitely smart; he went to Princeton and Harvard Law. And he’s done what he says he’s going to do, so I find him trustworthy. But, like I said, I don’t like his stand on social issues.
DU: Do you think any of the candidates have the ability to bring the party back together?
WH: I think the Republicans will rally around any candidate who gets the nomination. You see that every year. People rallied around Mitt Romney in 2012, even though he wasn’t supported by everyone in the party. I don’t know about bringing the party back together. I think how the two party’s politics work is that there is always going to be different factions within parties.
DU: How is each candidate’s platform best suited to fix the ‘problems’ of modern-day America?
WH: Donald Trump’s big thing is immigration, and some people are really upset about immigration problems. I think it’s more of a Southern issue. It’s not really felt that much in the North, but in the South it’s more apparent. I think that illegal immigration’s a problem, but I don’t think it’s the only problem. They all have different stances: Jeb Bush is an establishment moderate, while Ted Cruz is definitely more conservative. It’s hard to say how they’re each best suited to fix the problems. They all have different things that appeal to different people.
DU: There seems to be a lot of career politicians. Why do you think this is?
WH: I think it goes back to the idea that people don’t trust the government right now. I think a lot of people are interested in professionals working in government because of their experience elsewhere, and people think that this will be applicable. People think they are more trustworthy because they’ve done things outside politics.
DU: Do you think there is a division amongst Harvard Republicans?
WH: It’s hard to tell… I haven’t really talked to too many Republicans at Harvard. People are kind of afraid to say that they are Republican… Maybe not afraid, but they don’t want to deal with the backlash. Harvard is an echo chamber, in that regard. I think, in general, Harvard Republicans tend to be more moderate. But, on the social issues, they tend to be more liberal, so there’s not a big division.
While it is easy to overlook a perspective that is underrepresented on campus, The Harvard Independent wants to share a well-rounded view on the upcoming election. Wyatt claims to be one of the few who are openly Republican, and we hope that more students can feel open about engaging politically with people who do not necessarily share their views. After all, we don’t always have to agree, so long as we agree on the ways in which to disagree.
Daniel Um ’19 (firstname.lastname@example.org), as an international student, remains blissfully ignorant of the American political nuances.