Hallie Lauer and Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
When news outlets projected GOP candidate Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States the night of Nov. 8, many Americans began to despair. However, it was not only Democrats who questioned Trump’s ability to lead the country in a time of great national division.
Members of Trump’s own Republican Party struggled to reconcile with the nation’s choice to vote the controversial candidate into office — just ask Duquesne’s own Leah Pier, who was the president of Duquesne’s College Republicans until she resigned on Nov. 9.
Pier, a sophomore finance major, took issue with the “racism and rhetoric” of the Republican candidate’s campaign.
“I truly want to believe the Republican Party is the better party, but seeing this rhetoric really hurts me,” she said.
Pier, who had been a registered Republican for two years, said she voted for Trump but had second thoughts afterwards.
“I probably spent 10 minutes at [the polling machine] contemplating what to do,” she said.
She said she had mixed feelings about both candidates.
“I’d say Hillary Clinton is everything wrong with our politics, and Donald Trump is everything wrong with our culture,” Pier said.
Afterward, Pier said she “felt disturbed” by the decision she made. She said later in a Facebook post that she will no longer identify with any political party.
Pier said the GOP “needs to do some soul-searching” following Trump’s election.
“The Republican Party needs to criticize the crap out of Trump,” she added.
Junior marketing major Colton Czack, formerly the Vice President of the College Republicans, is set to become the organization’s new president.
Czack said it was “sad” that Pier decided to step down, but he understood her decision.
“If someone has to call their beliefs into question, I always welcome that,” he said. “We should always be questioning [our beliefs.] It was great to work with her.”
Czack was pleased by Trump’s presidential victory.
“It was going to be a good feeling as a Republican to get a Republican back in office,” he said. “Hopefully, Trump is prepared for it.”
Czack believes a Trump presidency will mean big improvements to U.S. trade deals, border security and the national budget deficit.
“I think right now we’re in a really delicate state; there’s definitely a divide in the country,” he said. “I think Trump’s the better of the two candidates to handle the situation and unify the country.”
Other campus political groups weighed in on the election cycle.
Tyler Siminski, a senior economics major and president of Duquesne’s Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian organization, criticized all sides involved.
“This election has resembled a reality TV show and not by accident, either. It is the direction American politics has been moving in for years,” Siminski said. “I find all of the candidates running at the presidential level to be untrustworthy, unintelligent or naive, including the third party candidates.”
According to Siminski, his group’s main goal is to focus on important issues like national debt awareness and free speech rather than a “specific candidate or campaign.”
During the primary season, political groups on campus were having trouble recruiting members to their organizations, but with the election falling into this semester, they have reported more interest than past semesters.
“I hope that students stay interested, no matter what political ideology they hold, because our generation makes the decisions,” Pier said.
In this election, about 128.8 million people turned out to vote, compared to 126 million voters in 2012, according to electproject.org.
“I think more voters participated in this election because this election could be the start of a new era. People from both parties are over the establishment people in power,” Pier said. “We got the outcome we, as a nation, deserved. We put ourselves in this situation, and the only thing we can do now is continue to fight on for what is right, oftentimes starting with our own communities.”
Duquesne’s College Democrats could not be reached for comment.