Young leaders mobilizing students to vote for Donald Trump say, “The younger generation will be paying for what happens now in the future.”
(LA Times): Hunkered behind a MacBook decorated with stickers that read “This laptop was brought to you by capitalism” and “TRUMP 2016,” Jake Lopez bounces T-shirt slogans off his friend Ian McIlvoy. “Trumplicans,” he says, nodding with satisfaction. “I think it’ll take off.”
Lopez is the California director of Students for Trump. Working from his dorm at Westmont College, he helps marshal the thousands of students who are pounding out phone calls, taping up fliers and blanketing Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat in an effort to persuade their peers that Donald Trump is the man.
Although vastly outnumbered nationwide by left-leaning classmates chanting “Feel the Bern,” the youngest supporters of the GOP front-runner say they are similarly inspired by the hope of a radically different future and eager to support a leader who strikes them as anti-establishment and willing to speak his mind.
“Today, there is a movement to silence differing views,” Lopez says. He argues that the increasingly common practice of students turning to “safe spaces” is really about sheltering students from ideas with which they disagree. “That’s not what America is about,” he says. “Mr. Trump, he’s single-handedly bringing back freedom of speech. He’s enabled students to voice whatever we believe in a thoughtful way.”
Students for Trump began as a Twitter account in October in a dorm room at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Ryan Fournier, a freshman and early supporter of Rand Paul, was drawn to Trump’s blunt rhetoric and policies on border control and employment. Between classes, homework and fraternity meetings, Fournier fired off tweets praising Trump and setting the record straight on what he considered misinformation.
In less than a month, Fournier had more than 14,000 Twitter followers. As GOP candidates like Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson dropped out of the presidential race, he gained thousands more. By December, he was devoting more than eight hours a day to spreading the word. More than 5,000 students in 200 chapters in 38 states are publicly on board. Fifteen chapters have taken hold in California, on campuses including UC Santa Barbara and USC.
For a volunteer-run enterprise, the operation is slick, with an HR department, a merchandise line and a team that’s constantly updating the website. Applicants for state director positions submit résumés and have their social media scrutinized. Fournier’s take on the selection process would not have sounded out of place on “The Apprentice.” “We don’t want to hire garbage,” the political science and pre-law major says. “It’s a very big job running a state.”
John Lambert, a sophomore studying wealth management at Campbell, is the business-savvy one in the leadership duo. For Lambert, whose bio boasts that he founded a social media marketing company at age 16, Trump’s appeal lies in his business background and untraditional approach to politics. “We’re tired of the typical … failing politician that’s all talk and no action,” he says. “Mr. Trump is not about that. He’s going to hire people that can actually do the job, and that’s why we’re going to have a successful country.”
Looking ahead, the team is honing its ground operations in states like Wisconsin, New Jersey and California.
“We want to match what Bernie Sanders is doing on the Democratic side,” Lambert says.
Lopez notes that his great-grandfather was Mexican but says he considers himself “an American, a Californian, a Christian.” “Not all Hispanics hate Trump,” he says.
And the more he comes out as a supporter, the more other students do too, he says. “I have about 25 chapter requests in my in-box right now that I have not been able to get to. The support is out there, and we’re trying to get them mobilized and speaking up.”
(Read more about these inspiring young leaders at LA Times)
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