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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

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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  • Peter Castle

    Sadly, Ann Coulter remains a notorious spokesman for conservatism even as conservatives have become embarrassed by Ann Coulter. She has been going over the edge for over a decade. She is not an advocate for conservatism – she is an advocate for Ann Coulter. A growing number of people are discovering that we should Never Trust Ann Coulter – at ANY Age, at http://www.coulterwatch.com/never.pdf.

  • NDDem

    The “liberal minority” at Notre Dame (who ruin everything, according to Gianfalla) didn’t turn me into a Democrat. Gianfalla and others who say arrogant, hateful things are who turned me into a Democrat.

    • Johnny Whichard

      Just a friendly suggestion…why not let yourself make your own political beliefs that aren’t based on others?

  • Zowie

    I love you, Jacob.

  • Matt

    I don’t know you, Jacob, but I have an immense amount of respect for your ideals. I too came to Notre Dame a staunch Republican, but what I saw of other “republicans” here completely changed my political ideologies. I no longer claim to agree with as much Republican policy as much as I do Democratic policy, but it’s nice to be reminded that what I believed in long ago does not identify me along with pundits today. Thank you for being a voice of reason, Jacob.

    • Joepalooka1

      I don’t believe the GOP has changed very significantly in 4, or even 8 short years. The Tea Party might be the ‘shock troops’ to an otherwise reliably staid political party, yet one that is equally ‘progressive’ as the Democrats when considered in the context of the centrist-conservative middle of the Party. If today’s Republican’s are the Party of ‘no’ (to everything) today’s Democrats are the Party of ‘yes’ (to everything) to everyone’s disadvantage. I’m neither Republican, Democrat, Independent or Libertarian but Centrist-Conservative.

  • Nathan

    I firmly consider myself to fall somewhere between the two parties. It’s people like you though, Jacob, who keep me hopeful about the future of the Republican Party.

  • JJ02


  • Liz Sem Kaminski

    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    Bravo Jake; Love, Mom.

  • Son Goku

    I am a Democrat and I support this message.

  • Dick Mattie

    Jacob, An outstanding letter and spot on with what ails the GOP today AND why mainstream Reaganites and Goldwater types are leaving the party in droves. I’ll keep an eye out for you young man and if you ever run for an office I can register for you’ve got my vote!! And BTW, I am a card carrying JFK Liberal.

  • Rand Paul 2016

    “I don’t like the other Republicans here so I’ll just be a Democrat”. What great thinkers at Notre Dame! Way to stick to your ideals. Don’t bother correcting those who misrepresent the party. I also am uncomfortable calling myself a republican. But I didn’t leave the Republican Party… The Republican Party left me. I now consider myself a conservative leaning libertarian. I would NEVER cross over to the liberal herd of uneducated sheep. I’m tired of being divided into groups by the the democrats and tired of the partisanship of BOTH parties in DC. Time for less government and less division. RAND PAUL 2016.

  • Riley

    Jacob, perhaps you should worry less about menial “talking heads” such as Coulter and more about those improperly representing the party in Washington… Where it counts.

    • Mason

      Don’t doubt their influence, as they inform the masses.

  • Mike

    I didn’t vote for Hubert Humphrey–but I would have had I been old enough.

    I did vote for Jimmy Carter, I’m sorry to say. One can always learn.

    I was born into a working class thoroughly democratic home. I never left the democratic party–it left me. When I boil down basic tenets, I remain Republican. This is despite wild and obnoxious right wing rhetoric. We are the party that prefers making fishermen to handing out fish. And in that, we are the hope for the future of America in a competitive world.

    Jacob, why don’t you take over the College Republicans? We might all be surprised how many real Republicans there are.

  • NDAlum

    I wish you were president of College Republicans.

  • ND Alum

    Jacob, too bad you did not run for President of College Republicans! It has been a weak and marginal organization at ND for a while. I hope ND Republicans who represent the best of the party can take this opportunity to take control and steer it in a better direction.