The University of Central Florida College Republicans eagerly await President-elect Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony, with many members flying into Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration.
After one of the most divisive election seasons in modern history, the 45th president of the United States will be sworn in on Friday.
This inauguration feels quite different than those in 2008 and 2012 for many young conservatives.
“In 2008, I was certainly not a fan of Obama, but I was not a huge fan of McCain either,” said Corrie Chase, the press secretary for the Florida Federation of College Republicans, who will be attending the inauguration. “I had optimism and was willing to give the president-elect a chance. By the time we reached 2012, any light at the end of the tunnel seemed to lapse for me.”
For Outreach Leadership Committee member Charles Crawford, the “large populist push-back” of this election feels comparable to that of previous years.
“Other than the sense of victory this time because I did not vote for Obama, [the inauguration] actually feels quite similar in terms of the transfer of power,” Crawford said. “People voted for Obama because they were upset at Bush for several things, including the ongoing war in Iraq and the economic downturn.”
The 2017 inauguration, like Trump’s campaign, has been shrouded in controversy. The Trump team has faced difficulty finding A-list celebrities to perform at the event.
Some artists, including Tony-winning actress and singer Jennifer Holliday, backed out after receiving severe backlash. Several Democratic lawmakers have publicly announced their intention to boycott the ceremony altogether.
“These reactions are absolutely unjustified,” Chase said. “When Obama was elected in 2008 and 2012, you did not see hordes of Republicans taking to the streets to protest a fair election. It is troubling that these people have done nothing but listen to the hatred the media and celebrities alike have spewed and not taken the time to actually study and understand President-elect Trump’s policies, agenda and the plans of the Republican Party as a whole.”
“As far as the representatives who are refusing to go to the inauguration, that kind of saddens me that they would use such a prestigious office to make a statement like that,” Crawford said. “I understand they may not agree with the incoming administration, but the purpose of the inauguration is to symbolize the peaceful transfer of power.”
One result of Trump’s victory is already very evident to the UCF College Republicans: More young people are joining the GOP.
“We saw an uptick in millennial Republican voters this election cycle, and we will no doubt see more as Trump’s policies take hold,” Chase said.
Crawford met “young people from all races” at Trump rallies and wants the country to come together after an especially turbulent election cycle.
“If we look back on 2008, many thought that Obama’s election would help to eradicate racial animosity, if not full-on racism,” he said. “Even those, like myself, who didn’t vote for him still were hopeful of certain changes, but I think it was a mistake to put such a large and important task on one man when it should be something that we should all work towards. The same goes for Trump and helping to heal the divide after this election.”