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A letter to College Republicans

| Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dear Officers of the Notre Dame College Republicans,

As a member of the Notre Dame College Republicans and as a registered member of the Republican Party, I am disheartened by your recent endorsement of Donald Trump.

Toward the end of your endorsement, you shared that you “hope to have abated some of the concerns of Catholics, Hoosiers and Notre Dame students.” Undoubtedly, after reading your endorsement my concerns are far from being abated. I find myself concerned more so now than ever — concerned for the future of the Notre Dame College Republicans, for the future of the Republican Party, and most importantly, for the future of our country.

Yes, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination; yes, he won the Indiana primary; and yes, he even selected the Governor of Indiana as his running mate. However, that does not mean that Notre Dame College Republicans has to endorse him, and it certainly does not justify your endorsement of him either.

In your endorsement recently posted to Facebook, you mention that after a long primary season full of many candidates there is but one choice left — the choice between Trump and Clinton. Although you note that many members of our club actively campaigned for numerous alternatives to Trump, you insist this is no longer relevant and contend that there remains one choice before us — one that you deem to be a clear choice.

However, I offer to you — and all other members of the Republican Party — a third choice. I offer you a choice to refuse to endorse Donald Trump. I offer you a choice to tell the Republican Party that this is a candidate that we cannot support as students of this premiere Catholic university, as the next generation of the Grand Old Party and as the future of this country. This is a choice that I believe is even clearer, but don’t take my word for it. Instead, take the word of the Republican president that has left a lasting mark on the values of our party: Ronald Reagan.

When President Ronald Reagan visited Notre Dame’s campus in 1988, he commended our institution: “Notre Dame stands among the winds of subjectivity for lasting values and principles that are at the heart of our civilization and upon which all human progress is built. If they want to see the goodness and love of life of this generation, the commitment to decency and a better future, let them come here … to Notre Dame.” Indeed, Reagan praised Notre Dame for its commitment to hold fast to enduring values regardless of which way the winds blow and for relentlessly fighting for decency in our society in hope of a better tomorrow.

As officers of the same organization that endorsed Ronald Reagan for president and supported his promising vision, I urge you to ask yourselves this: would Ronald Reagan be proud of the Notre Dame College Republicans today? Considering that his son, Michael Reagan, has tweeted that this election would most likely “be the [first] time if my father was alive that he would not support the nominee of the GOP,” I find it hard to believe that the same Reagan that our organization admires would be proud of this decision. By endorsing Donald Trump, you are effectively handing over our party to a candidate that undoubtedly lacks decency in both his public discourse and demeanor, and in doing so, you are pushing aside our conservative values and Reagan’s hopeful vision for a better America. In the shortsightedness of a single presidential election, you are willing to risk the virtue of our political system and the values that we entrust to it. As the winds of our party are blowing in the direction of Donald Trump, you — among many others — have been swept away, leaving the rest of us who were inspired by Reagan’s vision scratching our heads and wondering where our party is now headed.

Despite all this, I remain hopeful, knowing that I am not alone in resisting the passing winds of this election. I take comfort in knowing that other members of the Notre Dame College Republicans, as well as many prominent Republican leaders, refuse to support Donald Trump. While you support Trump, we will take charge of shaping our party’s future: a future in which our presidential nominee is a person of moral character and integrity, and a future in which our party’s message is all-inclusive and its vision is optimistic. In the face of your endorsement and even amidst the present turmoil in our party, we will remain true to our commitment to decency and to a better tomorrow, for that is why we came here to Notre Dame.


Michael Finan


Aug. 19


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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