Last Friday, New Jersey Gov. and ex officio University Trustee Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump in his bid for the Republican nomination and the White House. This Board believes that this action runs contrary to both democratic and University values and calls on Christie to renege on his endorsement and remove any affiliation to Trump and his campaign.
Trump has made several statements antithetical to values that the University holds dear. Section 1.1.4 of Rights, Rules and Responsibilities states that while the University “acknowledge[s] the difficulties inherent in creating a community of” differing backgrounds, beliefs and experiences, it is committed to supporting the creation of such a diverse community. Trump has not conducted his campaign in accordance with this value. He has argued that he saw Muslim-Americans “celebrating” following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, a claim that has not been substantiated and simply serves to stoke animosity towards Muslims living peacefully within America’s borders. Similarly, his refusal to immediately disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to his lack of regard for the millions of minority group members that the KKK has harmed with violence and hate. Trump has also embraced a broadly xenophobic and intensely ignorant view of Hispanic-Americans and Hispanic immigrants in order to divide the country and propagate his campaign’s image. Section 1.2.1 asserts that while the University seeks to foster vigorous debate, “alienating ... individuals” whose diverse perspectives enrich this debate “harm[s] the whole community.” Even if Trump doesn’t believe what he says, that does not change that fact that his comments insult and demean large portions of the Princeton community. Christie should recognize what 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other politicians have termed “disqualifying [and] disgusting” remarks and recant his endorsement accordingly.
Beyond his affronts to University standards, Trump’s comments further run contrary to the values of a democratic society. We refer to his response to criticism that he’s faced in the media. Trump has stated his willingness to “‘open up’ libel laws” and make it easier to sue news organizations. This type of legislation would create a chilling effect on free press, weakening one of the most important rights afforded to American citizens. Again, whether or not Trump, the man, believes what Trump, the candidate, says is immaterial. His willingness to directly flout the tenets of the Constitution in response to simple critiques does not inspire confidence in the reaction a Trump administration would have to criticism in the face of controversy. Christie should have taken this into consideration before he endorsed Trump, and we call on him to rectify his poor judgement.
Christie may join Trump supporters and argue that Trump “tells it like it is,” and that we should hold this unabashed commitment to the truth above the concerns stated above. Even if the University placed such little weight on these concerns, the Board rejects this argument on the basis of fact. Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker Politifact rates 76% of Trump’s statements that it has reviewed as “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire” — the latter refers to a statement that is willfully misleading or egregiously incorrect. Trump’s statements are not just ideologically offensive — they are objectively untrue.
This Board does not make a partisan objection to Trump’s political stances, nor do we fault him for changing his view on several issues. Many candidates share some of Trump’s views, and almost all of them have changed their position on issues during this election cycle. We recognize that vigorous discussion of the merits and flaws of various candidates and platforms is necessary for the flourishing of the American political system. Different candidates can present incompatible yet sincerely held beliefs that should be discussed in the open. However, we find a trustee’s endorsement of a candidate who holds no regard for University and American values unacceptable and urge Christie to reverse his endorsement immediately.
Connor Pfeiffer ’18, Theodore Furchtgott ’18, and Paul Draper ’18 recused themselves from the writing of this editorial.
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.