While the election season was highly contentious around the country, the same cannot be said for Princeton. The University’s students were surprisingly united in their opposition towards Trump. Only 9.4% of respondents to a poll done for a student-led publication on campus said that they voted for Trump in the General Election. The support for Trump was a fraction of Clinton’s, as 80.5% of the respondents supported her. However, it is important to note that some Republicans on campus did not support Trump, as 16.5% of respondents identified as Republicans, but less voted for the party’s nominee. Conservatives at Princeton are divided on Trump. Princeton College Republicans did not endorse Trump during the General Election, and instead focused on down-ballot races. Before November 8th, the few Trump supporters that were on campus did not seem very active, and few people noticed them. That being said, once Trump won, they did become much more noticeable. Many left-wing students would say that Trump supporters have been “emboldened.”
From the perspective of Trump supporters, their role on campus may have gotten larger, but also more scrutinized. In a recent interview done with several students who went to CPAC, they expressed great content over Trump’s policies. They did not accuse the University of any attempts to silence them, but did note that the campus is predominantly left wing. One student said “. . . we’ve seen a lot more furor from students on the left, which makes it harder to advance your ideas as a conservative.” This seems consistent with the irritation felt by the right-wing nationally, as much of the country disapproves of our newly elected President and his platform, which makes pushing any conservative ideas much harder.
However, the College Republicans have taken steps to distance themselves from Trump, releasing a statement saying that they do not support his Muslim ban. In the interview, they tried to make a distinction between themselves and Trump, implying he is not the average Republican. Between the two interviews, one can see major differences of opinion between conservatives on Princeton’s campus. That being said, besides Trump’s intense rhetoric, and his policies on several issues, he is generally supporting policies that most Republicans in Washington thoroughly approve of.
It’s important for Democrats at Princeton to realize that just because Trump supporters were not discussing their views in public as much before the election did not mean that they did not hold them. You can spend an entire election season being silent on your views but still cast a vote for Trump come November. Just because you don’t see “Make America Great Again” hats everyday on campus does not mean there are no Trump supporters. That is why every day you have to fight for the values you hold. What is even more important is acknowledging the concerns of others. Too many Democrats assumed that Trump could never get elected, and did not spend enough of their energy trying to actually convince Trump supporters to change their votes. It may make you uncomfortable if Trump supporters are more active on campus, but you also need to realize that when your opposition is silent, it allows for their ideas to flourish without challenge.