My entire life I have struggled with my voter identity. I come from a long line of conservatives. My great-grandfather chaired the Cambria County GOP from November 1949 until August 1996; My grandfather, Robert A. Gleason Jr, Wharton ’61, held the same post from August 1996 until March of 2011, when he assumed the position of the Chairman of the GOP for Pennsylvania, on which he currently serves. My cousins, uncles and mother have all served as delegates for conventions throughout the years. My family has worked tirelessly for Pennsylvania’s GOP and for state to go red for the first time in 40 years gives me such pride in them.
Although I had volunteered at the county offices, gone to political rallies and discussed politics at the dinner table, I wasn’t really sure what being a republican meant. I didn’t completely agree with all the conversations my family and I had. My stances on politics weren’t particularly strong until I had the chance to be a page at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this past July. Being with about 60 people between the ages of 16-24 who were on all points of the conservative spectrum made me realize what was important: uniting under a political party. It wasn’t until after that week that I was able to identify myself as a Republican.
A particular speech stood out to me, among many during my week in Cleveland. Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA said the following:
“We are told frequently, that the republican party is a party of old, rich white men...Only four Latinos have ever run for the president of the United States, two were in this election cycle….We have the only sitting US Senator under the age of 40, we have the youngest Speaker of the House since 1868, we have 3 governors under the age of 50, we have the youngest woman ever elected to Congress...Who is the party of youth and diversity? We are.”
Let me be clear: I do not support the things that Donald J. Trump has said in the past: I think some of these comments are egregious. However, his actions as a person don’t reflect the choices that he will be guided to make over the next four years. I am not a white supremacist, I am not a racist, I am not a homophobe and I am not a xenophobe. I exercised my civic duty. I voted with my conscience, and I truly believe that Donald J. Trump is the fresh start we need for this country.
As said in Mr. Trump’s victory speech, Donald J. Trump wants to unite our country. He wants to rebuild America and renew the American Dream. Clearly I am not alone, America wanted a change and I am eager to see what he will do for our country.
“We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict”, Trump said. While the hand we have been dealt is not all together favorable, we must respect this political process. America can begin to heal as soon as we accept the outcome of this election. Let’s work together and put our differences aside. As President Obama explained on Wednesday: It’s time to look at the big picture. We’re not democrats or republicans first. We’re Americans first. Let’s come together in this time that we need it the most.