A New Precedent
With Republican Donald Trump bragging about his lewd treatment of women and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign attacked by Russian hackers, the presidential race has been filled with spectacle and drama, in addition to the usual conflicts over different policies. Whether it’s on immigration, climate change, healthcare, or national security, the candidates hold many contradictory beliefs.
Among Maine West students and in national polls, however, Clinton holds a large lead over Trump, with 76 percent of students saying she has the temperament to best lead the country and 70 percent preferring her policy plans over Trump’s.
Many people have strong opinions about both presidential candidates. Even though people may point out Clinton’s flaws, there are countless people who have a negative outlook of Trump in general. “I feel like people who support Donald Trump understand that this is their chance to get what they want,” junior Kielle Gorospe said. “Trump wants to repeal gay marriage and deport all illegal immigrants. Everything that the United States worked so hard for will be wiped away because of the bigoted people who voted for Trump.”
Even among some of the most politically decided students, there remains doubt regarding candidate choice. “I feel like everyone treats these candidates as a joke,” senior Lauren Bechtold explained. “Now that it’s down to these two candidates, it’s to the point where you love one of the candidates and hate the other. I never thought it would come down to this. I pay a lot of attention to politics and watch the news often about both candidates. Hillary Clinton’s policies are unrealistic, and I don’t agree with some of Trump’s policies either.”
But to the Republicans’ dismay, Trump’s past has resurfaced in ways that may hinder his chances for the presidency. A video, released two weeks ago, revealed Trump having an extremely lewd conversation about women. With many comments from Trump that can be almost be described as bragging about sexual assault, these lewd remarks left many people speechless. “I think the public needs to decide [if] he’s trying to show off that he can get away with this kind of behavior,” social science teacher Jenny Peters said.
“There are going to be hard-core supporters of Trump no matter what he does. They will blindly give him their support. He could do a heinous crime and they would still vote for him. For those voters who may have been on the fence about these candidates, I think that this may have been a weighty piece of evidence to nudge them towards Mrs. Clinton,” Peters added.
With more women coming forward and accusing Trump of sexual assault, many high-ranking Republicans have decided to pull their support from his campaign. “It’s damaging for Mr. Trump that a lot of high ranking Republicans are seriously distancing themselves from him. [Republican Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan’ is no longer going to defend him and not going to campaign for him after all these behaviors,” Peters continued.
Few people are actually pleased with how the election has been turning out.
“I don’t like either of the candidates,” junior Jordan Meo explained. “I feel like Donald Trump likes to put all these restrictions that are not going to benefit everyone that lives in America. He just spouts nonsense, like building a wall and banning all Muslims. To me, that doesn’t seem to be the best way towards making America great again.”
On the other hand, “Hillary isn’t truthful with what she says. She likes to keep things a secret, like her emails for instance. If she had nothing to hide, she could’ve just come clean, but she kept on denying everything about that,” Meo continued.
Besides the presidential race, 469 seats in the U.S. Congress will be up for election on Nov. 8., including many from Illinois. In Illinois, voters will also be selecting a U.S. Senator, choosing between incumbent Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
Due to the negativity surrounding many of this year’s political races, some voters have decided to not vote during this election year and others remain undecided about the candidates. “I would tell undecided voters to vote. Even if you don’t like the candidates, there are also minor parties to choose from,” social science teacher Daniel Fouts said. “It’s important to exercise your right to vote because if you don’t vote, you’re essentially relinquishing your authority in a democracy. That’s a dangerous thing to do.”
With the final nominees being Trump and Clinton, there are students who feel cheated out of having better nominees. “I was disappointed that Bernie didn’t win the nomination,” Meo said. “He was so different from Trump and Clinton that it was a surprise that no one went out to vote for the guy. He was more truthful than Clinton is. He was actually genuine with his policies and generally cared about the people. Bernie was way more consistent with his ideology than any of the other candidates.”
Voter apathy may have played a part. “The younger people supported him but no one actually went out to vote for him. A lot of people were just on social media saying ‘Go Bernie’ but no one went out to vote,” Gorospe added.