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James Willamor

What students can learn from Republicans

By Frank Finley, September 27 2016 —

There is something fascinating happening to the Republicans and students should take notice. As young people, it is important to learn from history’s mistakes, but right now, we have a chance to learn from the mistakes of the present.

The Grand Old Party of the United States is in trouble. Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower are spinning in their graves at a speed most remarkable. Half of America’s two-party system now has Donald Trump at its helm.

But Trump should not be solely blamed for his own ascent. The party as a whole has failed to evolve and their troubles have been years in the making. Republican leadership dug their feet in, failing to move forward on LGBTQ issues, climate change and immigration reform. They stoked the fires and it should come as little surprise to now find a personality like Trump at the top.

Trump is the tangerine megaphone that has made the party’s flaws more apparent. What Trump has managed to do is loudly exemplify the fear of “the other” — namely, immigrants and religious minorities. He has suggested monitoring Muslim mosques and neighbourhoods. He has proposed registering Muslims in a federal index. He has stood behind his idea of blocking all Muslims from entering the country. Further, he promised to deport undocumented Mexican children who grew up in the United States.

To the Republicans, these groups are dangerous to the nation’s welfare. This policy of fear is nothing new, but Trump’s brashness has been easy for the media to summarize into tidy sound bites.

The result of this has been politically disastrous. Prominent supporters have turned their backs even with the much-distrusted Hillary Clinton as the face of the opposition. Simply put, their chances look grim.

What we are seeing is the result of the Republican’s failure to evolve, their inability to move with the times and their use fear of as a political mechanism. If there is an example for millennials of what not to do, this is it.

As young people, we will be tasked with dealing with complex issues as we move forward into the 21st century. From climate change to the continuing refugee crisis, these problems have no clear solutions. We must evolve and adapt to new situations. We will have to work with each other and not act on fear alone.

In order to thrive, we should learn from the Republicans’ mistakes, lest we risk ending up like them.

Frank Finley is a second year Law and Society Major and Vice President External for the University of Calgary Debate Society. He writes a monthly column about student and youth affairs called Jury of Your Peers.

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