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As Harvard's Republicans are acknowledging and accepting the reality of Donald Trump's upset victory, the College's Democrats are not quite ready to unite behind the new President-elect.
The Harvard Republican Club made waves in August by denouncing Trump as a “threat to the survival of the Republic,” the first time it has not supported GOP presidential nominee since its founding in 1888. However, club President Declan P. Garvey ’17 said he now hopes for a successful Trump administration.
“I’ve made my thoughts on Trump’s campaign and his candidacy clear over the course of the past few months,” Garvey said. “That being said, I of course respect the outcome of the election and hope and pray that [Trump] does a good job as president.”
In contrast, the Harvard Democrats still processing Trump's victory.
“The time to talk about political strategy will be next week or next month—however long it takes for us to get over the shock," said Susan X. Wang ’17, the president of the Harvard Democrats. “It will be soon, but not right now,."
Trump’s victory spurred sadness and disbelief among many Harvard students on a campus where a Crimson survey found 87 percent support Democrat Hillary Clinton. Only six percent of respondents to the survey said they would vote for Trump.
Spontaneous protests have erupted across many university campuses. The Daily Bruin student newspaper for the University of California, Los Angeles estimated that more than 1,000 UCLA students marched through campus and the surrounding streets in the early hours Wednesday morning after it became apparent Trump had won. Similar protests erupted at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M. In Boston, thousands of people protested Trump Wednesday evening.
Garvey said that, while he understands the feeling of protesters and recognizes that as a white male Trump’s victory will affect him differently, he considered such divisions after the election “unproductive.”
“Politics aside, what makes our country unique is our respect for the democratic process and that’s what we need to do,” he said. “Ultimately, we need to come around and respect the fact that Trump won, whether we supported that or opposed it.”
Still, Garvey sympathized with Democrats who are shocked and saddened by the election results.
“It’s definitely a tough turnaround,” he said. “As Republicans, we had to confront the reality of Trump representing us for months. Democrats are kind of just reaching that point now.”
The Democrats are moving forward, still frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency but hopeful from the energy of the opposition they have seen thus far.
“It’s scary for us, and scary for a lot of people on campus—for family, friends, and the people that they love,” Wang said. She added though,“It’s exciting that there’s still the energy there, and I hope they keep that energy up in the coming months and years,” Wang said.
Moving forward, Garvey said he expects the Harvard Republican Club not to acquiesce to the “Trumpist style of politics of bigotry,” adding the club would support the president-elect on policies that they agreed with him on—Supreme Court appointments and lower corporate taxes, for example—and stand up against “his more extreme policies.” He also said the Republicans will lead the way in trying to understand why Trump won.
Wang, on the other hand, said that in the immediate aftermath of the surprising election, “The Dems as a community is just trying to come together and support each other.”
—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.
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