Trump Supporters on Campus: A Political Minority
December 15, 2016
After the election, hundreds of students participated in a campus-wide walkout in protest of Donald Trump’s impending presidency, while countless others took to social media to express their frustrations. Amidst the turmoil, the voice of one group on campus remained mostly unnoticed: students who put their support behind Trump.
Senior Johnson Wang
Not all Trump-supporters at Los Altos are die-hard followers. Some of them have been reluctant to favor Trump, describing him as a lesser of two evils. Although backing Trump may not be the easiest decision, senior Johnson Wang, who describes himself a moderate, said what he saw on the other side of the playing field made it easier.
“I’m just saying [Trump] is the better option of the two,” Johnson said. “[Hillary Clinton] is the most corrupt woman to actually run for the presidency.”
Johnson immigrated from China when he was 6 years old. He speaks of corruption in the Chinese government and views Clinton as an extension of the political climate of his homeland. He admits Trump has also been surrounded by scandals but believes Clinton’s faults make her more unqualified to be president.
“There’s so much more [that Clinton] is hiding [in her emails], and it’s crucial information,” Johnson said. “Trump has done bad things, and it’s a lose-lose situation. But to compare them both, Clinton has been involved in so many more scandals than Trump.”
Furthermore, Johnson believes that Trump’s remarks concerning women do not make him unfit to be president, dismissing them as less meaningful than many have made them out to be.
“Words don’t define who he is as a president,” Johnson said. “Until he does something that’s actually sexist, what he says doesn’t really affect me. Actions define who you are, not words.”
Johnson also defends Trump’s stance on Muslim immigration, and he claims it is based more on national safety than on a desire to persecute others for their religion. Although he acknowledges the possibility of potential ISIS terrorist threats within refugee groups is low, he fears that it will grow over time.
“Even though it’s not a problem right now, what if it is a problem in the near future?” Johnson said. “You’re more scared of something that you don’t know than something that you definitely know. The unknown of how strong they are and how they can infiltrate the U.S., really speaks to people who are scared in this country.”
Johnson expressed that he would not shy from his opinions but would remain cautious when interacting with his fellow students.
“I’m worried about the consequences,” Johnson said. “I explain to [people] my political views, but there are some who will criticize you and call you dumb, [and say] that your opinion doesn’t matter and to shut up. But you can’t get dumber from talking to other people. You can only learn.”
Senior Ezer Zuniga
As a conservative, senior Ezer Zuniga aligns many of his political views with Trump. Unlike many conservatives, however, Ezer is Latino, although he primarily identifies as an American.
“I would say I’m an American,” Ezer said. “Originally, I was a Mexican-American. I was born here. I think that using all these terms [like Mexican-American] makes sense, but at the same time these [racially descriptive terms] divide us, and I think that we have become too divided at this point.”
Much of Ezer’s support hinges on Trump’s proposed solution to illegal immigration, which he views as a growing issue in the U.S.
“You have to increase border security, which is why I was in favor of building a wall,” Ezer said. “Once you build a wall, you figure out what you’re going to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants that we have… [Especially] if you have a rare incident with an illegal immigrant doing the wrong thing, you have to do the proper thing, [and] that would be to send them back to deportment.”
Although the rights of LGBTQ+ people have become a source of concern amongst many after Trump’s election, Ezer says this concern is unfounded.
“Trump already said we’re not going to do anything about [gay marriage], so that’s set in stone,” Ezer said. “I really don’t have a problem with it. If people want to have certain lifestyles they should be able to.”
Although Ezer is not opposed to gay marriage, as a Christian, he is concerned about what he perceives to be a growing restriction on religious freedoms. He alleges the existence of a “gay lobby” that he believes is exerting undue influence over the government.
“What I really don’t like is that the gay lobby has become increasingly powerful, and they’re using the government to infringe upon freedom of religion,” Ezer said. “I’m perfectly okay with gay marriage as long as it does not infringe upon my freedoms.”
Ezer also follows the “alt-right,” a movement defined by the Associated Press as a “mix of racism, white nationalism and populism” that has risen to prominence as a result of Trump’s popularity.
The alt-right has frequently come under criticism for some of the ideas, outlets and people that have claimed ties to it. The controversial Breitbart News and white nationalist Richard Spencer are among those that have called themselves “alt-right.” However, Ezer says this portrayal is unfair, and he disagrees with the Associated Press’ definition.
“[The alt-right] is getting recognition for all the wrong reasons,” Ezer said. “There’s a difference between the alt-right and white supremacists… The whole goal [of the alt-right] is to be as outrageous as possible to shock the people who push for this liberal [political correctness] culture, where people are outraged by pretty much everything.”
Ezer acknowledges that his beliefs may not be overly popular in Los Altos. He is not overt about his political leanings and is not as vocal as some of his counterparts. However, he still views his uncommon opinions as a source of pride and would not allow his surroundings to prevent him from believing in them.
“I don’t think a lot of people know that I’m a conservative,” Ezer said. “It does get a little bit uncomfortable to be surrounded by a lot of people who think that the people who you support are racist and bigoted. Being conservative in a liberal environment allows you to see how other people think. It’s a lot better than being liberal in a liberal environment and just being in your own bubble.”