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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer


A lesson in electoral success

Defending NDCR's revocation of Senator Todd Young's endorsement

Last Friday, a column published in The Observer denounced the College Republicans of Notre Dame (NDCR) over its recent decision to revoke a standing endorsement of Senator Todd Young. The reasoning behind our revocation was elaborated on in a post to X. “Notre Dame College Republicans formally rescind all prior endorsement of @SenToddYoung. Dedication to President Trump is more important than any ‘principled conservative’ position he claims. It is time to replace the Indiana political establishment with America First.”

The post came in reaction to Young’s announcement that he would no longer support the current Republican nominee and former President Donald J. Trump in the upcoming general election.

Scandalously enough, NDCR decided to stand by the Republican nominee.

But for the author of the above column, this was not just deeply morally wrong, it was also a “dystopian” and “Orwellian” move befitting the Kremlin. After all, how could anyone even consider revoking the endorsement of a fellow Republican? With a resounding conclusion, he declares that NDCR is an anti-American, anti-democratic cohort actively “silencing” sitting U.S. Senator Todd Young.

But amidst a whirlwind of buzzwords and empty aphorisms, the author seems to have missed the glaring irony that Young, and not NDCR, “un-endorsed his fellow Republican” first. This is hardly an insignificant oversight, considering his entire column rested upon that single grievance.

Undeterred, the author concludes that although Young has no obligation to endorse the nominee of his party, NDCR has an obligation to endorse Senator Young.

Most readers have noticed by now that something has gone seriously wrong. Accusing a college club of silencing a United States senator? While the author frequently assures us that he has the best interest of the GOP at heart, it seems reasonable to ask, how does an argument for disunity further the party?

Unless the author — keenly aware that disunity is detrimental to electoral success — wants to destroy Trump, even at the cost of a Republican victory this year. As strange as this may seem, it’s not hard to see when considering the context.

A quick lesson in party politics: it is well-established that uniformly backing the party nominee is one of the most effective ways to ensure electoral success. The Democratic Party has perfected this strategy, ensuring that, despite dissent within its own left wing, it consistently inches towards its goals with each subsequent election.

Let’s piece this together, then. If the author asserts that disunity behind the nominee is paramount — the opposite of established wisdom — then it seems safe to assume that he has little to no intention of propelling the party nominee to victory. This author, aware that he is working against the vast majority of the base, actively works to gaslight us into believing that they, and not the astroturfed “Never Trump” movement, are the ones responsible for consistent Republican losses.

The hubris of so-called “principled conservatives,” to wag the finger at MAGA for not supporting the active undermining of the party nominee, is nauseating. We are not beholden to “Conservatism Incorporated™ (Con Inc.),” a group that has profited enormously from grifting off of the conservative movement for decades. This same group endlessly attempts to gatekeep Republicans, who overwhelmingly support President Trump, from overthrowing their tired neoconservative agenda of endless wars and rotten bargains against the base.

Con Inc. has hated Trump ever since he declared his crusade against the system. This system effectively transformed America into a neoliberal economic zone, ransacked by the highest bidder and benefitting powerful interests. Despite what so-called “principled conservatives” claim, they don’t hate Trump on ideological principle, they hate him because he represents a threat to this status quo.

This brings me to my main point: politics is personal, not ideological. Without understanding this, well-meaning people can get caught up in imaginary political realities. The author even does this when he points out a devastating contradiction between NDCR’s behavior in 2022 and 2024. What he failed to account for was the simple fact that an entirely different group of people run NDCR now.

This same principle held true during Governor Ron DeSantis’ failed presidential run. Ideologically, DeSantis and Trump are nearly identical, but personally, they are vastly different people. DeSantis, uncharismatic and shorter than every president since Truman, failed to connect with people. Those who understood this stood behind Trump, and those who didn’t came to regret it. Adherence to a general “ideology” does not win elections. Adherence to a candidate does. Like it or not, that’s democracy.

It would be easy enough to write off this column as yet another case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, but this year it’s more than that. This sentiment is the death rattle of a defeatist coalition, one hell-bent on destroying the GOP’s electoral chances this fall. But it’s not “Con Inc. first,” it’s America First. Appeasing the base is no longer optional.

Want to win? Try making America great again. 

Nathan Desautels


vice president of NDCR

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.