Schwartz: Don’t forget that Donald Trump is no typical Republican candidate

Alex Schwartz, Op-Ed Contributor

I recently heard someone at Northwestern say that it’s hard for them to be a Trump supporter on this campus. They expressed that the hostility and judgement they received from their liberal friends was, at times, too much to deal with; they felt like this was simply another case of progressives blocking out ideas they don’t agree with.

I’ll say this: If this were 2012 and they were voting for Mitt Romney, I would disagree but I wouldn’t judge them — political opinions should not warrant personal criticism. But Donald Trump is not Mitt Romney. Voting for him does not just constitute a political opinion.

I respect others’ views and their right to disagree with me. I may not agree with all of them, but I certainly don’t think less of them as people because of them. I can agree to disagree with those who put faith in the market rather than the government, those who support a strong military and an assertive foreign policy or those more moderate on most social issues.

But I have to draw a line in this election. Donald Trump isn’t that one uncle who sometimes says some questionable things at Thanksgiving. During his campaign, he has shown himself to be a pathological liar, a racist, a sexist and a demagogue. He is facing multiple sexual assault allegations. I am speaking to those voters who are likely in agreement with the fact that some of these things are objectionable, yet still plan to vote for him.

I understand the practical reasons why many may still vote for Trump: the nomination of conservative Supreme Court justices, his position on foreign trade, even his desire to tighten up our immigration system — other than the wall, of course. And with a different candidate I’d say that to vote because of party allegiance would be entirely valid. But Trump carries far too much baggage. He is an existential threat to the character of this nation.

We cannot normalize Trump. We cannot subject him to conventional political analysis because that would diminish how fear-mongering and unqualified he actually is.

But people don’t seem to talk about the most obvious way of normalizing Trump: voting for him. The very act of casting a vote for Donald Trump cements the idea this type of behavior is acceptable in American politics. It is rewarding Trump for his indecency.

I get it. Many of these students simply don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. But as things stand, she is likely going to win. I’m going to assume they don’t support sexism, bigotry, racism or xenophobia. So why vote for a candidate who promotes these very principles? Aside from the fact Trump won’t be able to enact most of his outlandish policy ideas, do they really support the idea of him being the face of our nation?

So, being a Trump supporter is “hard” on campus. But is being a Trump supporter harder than being a Mexican American, terrified of being discriminated against or even deported under a potential Trump presidency despite doing nothing wrong? Is it harder than being Muslim, blamed for attacks carried out by people who represent the most extreme and fundamentalist iterations of Islam? Is it harder than being a victim of sexual harassment or assault, too scared to come forward after being told over and over again to “get over it?”

The Latinx community. Muslims. The disabled. Prisoners of war. Women. Every marginalized group Trump has bashed are the ones who have it “hard.” And they don’t even have a choice — they’re targeted because of their identities. But, unlike them, voters have a choice. We don’t have to support the bigotry, the hatred and the lack of decorum Trump stands for.

Don’t vote for Donald Trump, but if you do, never say you have it “hard.”

Alex Schwartz is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.