Jacques: Trump voter? Brace for shaming

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

It’s vicious out there this election season.

Donald Trump supporters don’t appreciate being called “deplorables” by Hillary Clinton and others.

No one knows this better than Joseph Guzman, an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Guzman, who teaches in the human resources and labor relations department, got a frigid welcome back to campus this month.

In his life apart from the university, Guzman is a co-chair of Donald Trump’s Michigan campaign and a member of Trump’s newly formed National Hispanic Advisory Council.

Heaven forbid!

At least that’s what some MSU students thought. Students aghast at the idea of a professor who supports the Republican presidential nominee printed fliers with a photo of Guzman sitting behind Trump at an August rally in Michigan. The fliers, distributed around campus, were headlined “Meet your professor!” with a big red circle around Guzman’s face just in case it wasn’t obvious.

“It’s against the First Amendment and the precepts of the Constitution,” Guzman says. “That’s the sad part. Students are taught to be intolerant. There’s a lot of shaming that goes on because people want to suppress free speech and free thought.”

Michigan State University professor Joseph Guzman (far right) is a member of Donald Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council. Guzman has been shamed by some students who disagree with his political activities.

That’s ironic, given the whole “safe space” movement on college campuses. Apparently everyone deserves a safe space, except for conservatives and Trump supporters.

Guzman, who stresses that his political activities are separate from his teaching duties, was distressed to see the intolerance expressed by these students. A few had the nerve to disrupt one of his classes. He doesn’t want to see the campus become a place where opposing views are framed as shameful.

“A lot of great things happen at a university,” says Guzman. “It’s when students learn to examine their beliefs and gain tools to expand their knowledge. I don’t think many students come to MSU with a goal of becoming a student protester.”

Intolerance of Trump supporters is felt far beyond campus. Given the fierce backlash to the GOP candidate, those who are considering a vote for Trump are choosing to keep quiet rather than subject themselves to a barrage of personal criticism. Something’s wrong with that picture.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton recently made a stir with her “basket of deplorables” comment regarding Trump voters. She claimed that half of Trump enthusiasts are racist, xenophobic and sexist, among other evil characteristics. She said the rest were unhappy about the direction of the country.

Clinton failed to mention a third basket of Trump voters: All those who would never vote for her. There are plenty. Both Clinton and Trump have record unfavorable ratings at about 60 percent.

Count Lisa Mankiewicz of Shelby Township in that category. The Trump volunteer says she was never active in politics until this election. She goes by #ImAgainstHer on Twitter and is adamant that Clinton would be bad news for the country. Yet Mankiewicz has witnessed the hesitancy of some voters to come out boldly for Trump.

“It really is a silent majority,” she says.

Guzman says he’s run across people when he’s campaigning for Trump who are very uncomfortable expressing their views until they know they are in like company.

Lena Epstein, another Michigan co-chair for Trump’s campaign, says support for the Republican may be stronger than the polls indicate.

“There are a lot of closet Trump supporters,” she says.

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques