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viewpoint

There’s more to the GOP

| Thursday, April 10, 2014

When I first arrived to Notre Dame in the fall of 2011, I could not wait to get involved. Arriving on campus as a sophomore transfer, I knew becoming immersed in Notre Dame’s rich and diverse network of student organizations would be among my best opportunities to meet friends and make the most of my limited time here. Having grown up with a deep interest in politics, I was especially excited to join political organizations here on campus. I signed up for Notre Dame College Republicans on Activities Night during my first semester here. I didn’t stay long.
I’ve been a Republican for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching nightly political talk shows with my dad, and I campaigned outspokenly for Republican Mark Newman in his campaign against former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold.  Unfortunately, it was 1998, and my political rhetoric was lost on the ears of my fellow second-grade classmates. Being a conservative is a part of who I am. It’s something I identify with. It’s a framework for how I feel US policy should be shaped because I feel it yields the best results for the greatest country in the world.
As proud as I am to be a Republican and a conservative, I have found recently, especially in my time here at Notre Dame, what it means to be a “Republican” is something far different than what it was when I was criticizing Feingold’s tax policy as an outspoken seven-year-old. The ND College Republican’s selection of Ann Coulter as their Lincoln Day Dinner speaker speaks to this point. The party, once championed by leaders and innovators like Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Reagan and Goldwater, is now shaped by a collection of obnoxious, in-your-face pundits.
I am a Republican because on a most basic, fundamental level, I truly believe free-market economies are most efficient, and state and local governments govern best. Coulter represents the new “voice” of the Republican Party that preaches negativity and exclusion. In fact, the only thing I would argue that Coulter and I fundamentally agree on is our love of capitalism; however, we love it for very different reasons. I love capitalism because it allows hard-working people to make their own luck and achieve prosperity for themselves and their families. Coulter, on the other hand, is a capitalist in the worst way. She preaches a radical message to garner attention and sell books.
This is what it really comes down to ⎯ selling books. Ann Coulter, John Beck and numerous others have found a way to become filthy rich, and it involves making outrageous claims and remarks in the name of “conservatism.” The unfortunate byproduct of this whole situation is that, as pundits like Coulter gain notoriety, their message becomes mistakenly construed as the message of the entire party.
My point is this: Coulter’s message is not who we are as Republicans. We are the party of lower taxes and less government.  We are not a party of hatred, exclusion and discrimination, as Coulter would likely lead you to believe. The selection of Coulter was just another in a series of my disappointments with the ND College Republicans. It pains me that some members of the club have taken hold to the radical messages of the talking heads they see on TV.
These disappointments also include the comments of President Mark Gianfalla in a recent email I received, as I am still a part of the College Republican listserve. In his email, Mr. Gianfalla referred to members of the NAACP and Black Student Association as “racial rabble rousers,” before claiming, “we’re [the College Republicans] always right.” I have never met Mr. Gianfalla, but I can only assume he was joking. However, it is this divisiveness and bravado that has been adopted by many “Republicans,” and it has severely taken away from the credibility of the party.
I am and will always be proud to be a Republican, yet I am wary of the direction in which we are headed. My hope is that people will see these loud, obnoxious voices in the party for exactly what they are — loud, obnoxious voices.

Jacob Kaminski
senior
off-campus

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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