Last night, during the interview portion of the Miss America pageant, Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota, was asked to respond to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate talks. She replied, “I do believe it’s a bad decision.” She paused to thank the audience for applauding, and continued, “Once we reject that, we take ourselves out of the negotiation table and that’s something that we really need to keep in mind. There is evidence that climate change is existing. Whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table, and I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States. Thank you.”
That answer helped Mund win the title Miss America 2018. In a follow-up interview with Associated Press, the new Miss America said, “I think everyone has a right to think what they want. Just the one thing is that it’s important to have a spot at the negotiation table, and this isn’t necessarily, ‘Does climate change exist or not?’ but rather the fact that we’re going to keep our earth clean for the future generations. I just think it’s really important that we have a seat there, and to pull out I think is really unfortunate.”
Mund wasn’t the only one of the five final contestants to speak out against Trump. Miss Texas, Morgana Wood replied to a question about the racist attack in Charlottesville by saying, “I think that the white supremacist issue—it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack, and I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and making sure that all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.”
Miss New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel, was asked whether America should keep its Confederate statues in place or get rid of them. Trump recently called it “So foolish!” to remove the “beautiful statues and monuments,” but Schoeffel disagreed, saying that while getting rid of the statues isn’t the right answer, they should be moved to museums, where they can be appreciated as a part of American history.
While Trump is not connected with the Miss America pageant, he has a complicated history with the pageant world. He is the former co-owner of the Miss Universe pageant, and former owner of the Miss USA pageant. Alicia Machado, who won the Miss Universe title in 1996, was publically shamed by Trump for gaining weight, and she spoke out against him during the 2016 election. Now, politically-aware pageant contestants are using their brief moments in the national spotlight to call attention to Trump’s failings as president.
Last night, Cara Mund won the Miss America crown in part for pointing out that Trump made a bad decision that hurts the United States. Miss America is literally a symbol of America, and Mund earned that crown by making it clear how much she cares about her country. Her speech—and those of her runners-up—demonstrate that being a true American means doing what’s right for the country without considering the political repercussions. (Are you listening, Trump?)
The 23-year-old Brown University graduate plans to enter law school after she passes on the crown to her successor, and she aspires to one day become North Dakota’s first female governor. She declined to reveal her party affiliation in the AP interview, instead saying, “I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m an American.” That kind of bipartisan voice is exactly what America needs right now. Maybe instead of governor, we should elect this woman president.