By Taylor Galla ‘18
Opinion Poll Columnist
For my first poll, I gravitated towards something that was going to be very controversial. I wanted to challenge the Scripps student body, an increasingly politically correct group of individuals, to share `their true and honest opinions about an individual who is currently eliciting responses from nearly everyone in the nation. You can’t escape him, and he seems to want it that way: Donald Trump.
When I first heard of his presidential bid, I honestly thought, as I presume most did, that it was going to be largely a joke that everyone would laugh at for a few weeks, and then we would move on to the more serious candidates in the Republican Party. However, that has not been the case — he is probably the most talked-about candidate thus far, and has been ahead in the polls for weeks. Much of this is because of his political strategy of sharing extremely controversial opinions and thus swaying the larger conversation towards the issues that he cares about. Where this will go no one can be absolutely sure, but at this current moment I wanted to gauge the response from the Scripps student body. So, let’s see how we did.
The choices on the Survey Monkey were as follows: 1) Absolutely hate him, 2) I disagree with nearly everything he stands for, but he’s entertaining I guess, 3) Although I disagree with him I respect how genuine and upfront he is about what he thinks, 4) I can see where he’s coming from on some things, plus you gotta love that hair, 5) I agree with him on a lot of things and I would vote for him. Out of the 154 or so responses I received, the vast majority of people voted for the first option— about 77.42%. On a very liberal campus, this is what I expected. Following this was the second option with 17.20%, then the third and fifth options each with 2.15% of responses. The fourth option came in last with 1.08%.
The responses that I find the most fascinating are those who said they agree with him on a lot of things and would vote for him. Coming from Scripps— a predominantly liberal college for women and marginalized gender identities in Southern California— these responses were honestly surprising. Our school’s culture tends to be very homogenous in the sense that it’s often assumed that mostly everyone is somewhere on the socially-liberal spectrum. Not everyone necessarily shares exactly the same views, but I think it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that everyone here would be against someone who has been quoted as calling women “pigs” and declaring that he will build a wall to keep out all illegal immigrants. I’m not distilling everything Donald Trump stands for into these two statements-- however, I think that for much of the Scripps student body, these two things pretty much summarize not only his stances, but also all the reason they need to “hate him.” I think the responses to this poll are important to recognize and acknowledge, as not everyone feels the same way here.
Further, before anyone takes these responses to heart and becomes unnerved by the fact that there are people here who would support a man who makes these horribly offensive statements, we must take a step back and consider why they might have these opinions. I don’t think there is anyone at this school who would look at their fellow peer and say they would support a wall being built to keep out, say, this peer’s loved ones. This insensitivity is not what should be assumed or taken to heart here. I think what should be examined is if Trump has other stances, more moderate ones perhaps, that one can get behind. We need to realize that one opinion does not necessarily define the whole reason one supports a candidate.
Too often at Scripps, people are summed up for having one opinion or standing up for one issue, and it is assumed that because of that they will sway a certain way on all issues. We have a need to understand everyone in terms that we can comprehend and easily categorize, instead of taking each piece of their opinion and identity as separate entities that may be influenced by different things. If someone supports Donald Trump, I am not going to immediately assume that they are a misogynist or a racist or any of the other things that Trump has been called— because I trust that in this student body of smart, intellectual individuals, someone is looking deeper at his policies and has found something that perhaps the rest of us are not seeing.
Personally, I wholeheartedly do not support anything that Trump stands for— but I do not want to keep those who do from being able to share that, and I do not want them to have a whole slew of things assumed about them.
Instead of always feeling the need to “educate” someone in order to change their opinion and move it in a certain direction, I think we need to hear each other out a bit more before we jump to taking on that role. Of course, if something is being said that is outright harmful than the right thing is, of course, to stand up and say something. Further, a candidate like Donald Trump, in my opinion, has stances, quotes and proposed movements that are irrevocably problematic and unredeemable as horrendous to many human lives. But, supporting a candidate-- not necessarily Donald Trump but others as well-- who has some stances you find problematic does not necessarily make the person supporting them problematic as well. Further, nearly every candidate has done or said problematic things so choosing someone to support is and always has been a balance of good and evil in a way.
Further, in writing this piece, I want to acknowledge my own privilege as a white, cisgender, straight, upper-class individual and that this stance in no way comes from someone who sees herself as marginalized. I acknowledge that my opinions come from a vastly different place and set of resources than others and that some others may not be able to view Trump in this way, as some of his opinions — if put into power — would have possibly drastic effects on their families and livelihood. I am just seeking to make Scripps a place where people who have minority opinions nevertheless feel safe to share them in a healthy and positive way. I also want to help make Scripps a place where people are excited to feel challenged by other opinions and perhaps to learn from them, and, if needed, to teach others in a supportive way.