The United States is in a state of emergency. COVID-19 has already claimed tens of thousands of lives, and the death toll is rising every day. The pandemic and its economic meltdown have spread misery and fear across the country.
It is the responsibility of the president to keep us safe and healthy, especially in times of national crisis. Yet the Trump administration's incompetent and corrupt coronavirus response has escalated the problem and contributed to countless deaths. Even though President Trump doesn’t “take responsibility at all,” we must hold him accountable for his mistakes — and hold Penn College Republicans accountable for theirs.
In 2016, the then-executive director of College Republicans told The Daily Pennsylvanian that he was voting for Hillary Clinton, because he was “truly fearful of the damage Donald Trump could wreak upon our country.” In 2020, the club doesn’t seem to acknowledge or care about the damage that Donald Trump has already caused. Throughout the year, they’ll be working to re-elect the president, in one of the key states that could decide the winner.
Over the past three semesters, College Republicans has invited several inflammatory conservative speakers to Penn’s campus. In April 2019, they lent their platform to Candace Owens, who trivialized the passing of 10,000 New Yorkers, and accused doctors risking their lives to fight coronavirus of "fluffing the death count.” In September, they hosted controversial blogger Michelle Malkin, who called for Dr. Anthony Fauci to be fired, dubbing him a “public health threat.” Last spring, they brought in Sean Spicer, who spent six months lying for Trump in front of the seal of the White House. And in November, they spoke with firebrand filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who created a movie comparing Trump to President Lincoln, and Democrats to Nazis. They co-host many of their events with the conservative publication UPenn Statesman, which recently lambasted Penn for closing campus pursuant to health guidelines, referring to the decision as a “hypersensitive overreaction from the hippie-millennial coalition” to ward off “the common cold.”
By embracing President Trump and associating with public figures who deny the science of pandemics, Penn College Republicans have enabled this weak and deadly COVID-19 response. College Republicans watched as Trump limited testing capability to boost his re-election odds. College Republicans watched as Trump dismantled the White House pandemic office in 2018. College Republicans watched Trump’s attempts to withhold needed medical supplies from Washington and Michigan, based on political vendettas against their governors. College Republicans watched Trump as he announced his decision to defund the World Health Organization during the pandemic, seemingly delayed stimulus checks to print his signature out of personal vanity, and fired the Inspector General overseeing the COVID-19 stimulus. No matter what the President says, he bears responsibility for the severity of the crisis. College Republicans can continue to watch, or they can decide that his actions have lost him the last remaining support from his alma mater.
This is the damage of Trump’s presidency that the 2016 College Republicans executive director foresaw. Since then, the club has followed the GOP and prioritized their party over our country. November 2020 is our opportunity to hold President Trump accountable at the ballot box, and the decisions we make this election year have lasting repercussions. Penn College Republicans must own their mistakes and revoke their support for Trump’s re-election. Now is the time to change course. If they don’t, they accept responsibility for the continued damage of a second Trump term.
This crisis has shown that no one is safe from the decisions of this country’s highest office, especially those within marginalized communities. We have all been impacted, and we all have a responsibility to make sure Trump isn’t re-elected. Young people organizing, volunteering, and voting in 2018 led to a Democratic House that has stood up for working- and middle-class Americans and stood against Trump and Senator McConnell’s pro-billionaire agenda. It’s time to recognize that voting and volunteering up and down the ballot represents not just an individual decision, but a collective commitment to your fellow Americans. This is College Republicans’ opportunity to change their goal of re-electing Trump. If they don’t, it’s on the rest of us to make sure they fail.
Owen Voutsinas-Klose, President
Michael Nevett, Political Director
Emma Wennberg, Communications Director
In collaboration with the Penn Democrats Executive Board.
OWEN VOUTSINAS-KLOSE is a College junior from Nyack, NY. studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is the President of Penn Democrats. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHAEL NEVETT is a College sophomore from Bethesda, MD. studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is the Political Director of Penn Democrats. His email is email@example.com.
EMMA WENNBERG is a College first-year from Pasadena, CA. studying Political Science and Creative Writing. She is the Communications Director of Penn Democrats. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.