Election Day is the most anticipated day in American politics. As we approach this monumental event, it is perhaps the first time many college students have the chance to vote in a presidential election. Many of these new, young voters have the chance to make a large impact on who will become president and even the power to potentially swing the vote.
It’s no shock that neither Donald Trump nor Hilary Clinton is particularly popular with college students and young people. With new scandals and unanswered questions emerging throughout each of their campaigns, voters of all ages are left puzzled as what to write down on Nov. 8. The most important part, however, is that they do write something down.
Alec Brown, a sophomore public relations major said “I’ve waited my whole life to be able to vote in a presidential election and this is what I get to choose between? This is the most disappointed I’ve been since Britney and JT broke up.”
Statistics have proven that college students are overwhelmingly liberal, which may imply that America will elect another Democratic president this year. However, many students tend to forgo their right to vote, which influences the election almost as much as if college students did decide to vote in the election.
SGA’s Chief of Finances Chris Parks is passionate about this huge responsibility as young people. “Change does not just happen on its own; we as a people have to spur along that change if we truly want to see it take place,” Parks said. “Our generation is one with all kinds of cool, revolutionary, new ideas, and as such, it is our responsibility to let our voice be heard.”
Although registering to vote or filling out an absentee ballot can be seen as taxing, it is the first step in being the difference. But can we, as college students, truly make an impact?
Eleanor McArdle, a junior psychology major and politics enthusiast, says yes. “I actually do feel that young adults and college students have a loud voice when it comes to who will be the next president,” McArdle said. “We’re active on social media, we have access to well-educated people who can challenge our thinking and force us to develop our opinions and we’re bold in utilizing our platforms.”
With the potential impact in mind, college students are encouraged to form their own opinion and beliefs. Senior political science and history major Libby Durbin says, “It is imperative that college students become educated about politics and vote. It is our job to shape the future of politics and hold the privilege of democratic elections with esteem.”
Being a part of a democracy and having the right to vote is a privilege, but it doesn’t ensure smooth sailing when it comes to politics. Parks explained his own annoyance with the election process so far, saying, “This election cycle has been particularly frustrating for me simply due to the nature of the two main candidates vying for the presidency. Neither one is the best, or even a good, representation of his or her respective political party, but it just goes to show what has happened to both of the two major parties and how their voting bases have evolved over time.”
For the past few weeks, the election coverage has focused on the presidential debates. The three deliberations demonstrate a head-to-head contest between the candidates and test their ability to think under pressure. However, many citizens view the presidential debates as unsuccessful because of the endless interrupting and banter.
“I think debates are always effective and important to an election, “ added McArdle. “Even if, like I feel has happened recently, the debates become more concentrated on personal attacks and have little to do with policy or major current events, the American public witnesses how each candidate carries him or herself under pressure, what kinds of questions they aren’t willing to answer, etc.”
McArdle still feels as though the debates have been more entertaining than educational, and she isn’t alone. Durbin agreed, saying, “Typically the debates help the public discern the candidate with the better policy or preparation. In that sense, they have proven to be ineffective. Both of the candidates have focused so much on scandals that they have neglected informing citizens on their policies and positions.”
Kelsea McCullough, Junior Global studies major, regrets that she missed the chance to register to vote in this election, but according to her, she “would have no idea who to vote for. I identify myself on the political spectrum as being more Liberal, but as a person I’m not a democrat or republican.
“I’m a global studies major, so I look at a lot of foreign policy or things that affect not just the Unites States but every nation.,” McCullough said. “One thing that makes voting for one of these candidates difficult is how the media shows them. Trump and Clinton throw punches at each other in debates, on tv, and in campaigning ads. We never get to see either of them for who they really are. I think that as a nation we can hopefully move forward with either candidate, and America will still be great to me.”
Nevertheless, these students all agree that watching the debates and paying attention to each candidate is an essential part of evaluating who deserves your vote. It’s a big responsibility; one that many young voters often overlook. As the television ads keep playing and the unknown phone calls continue to ring, voters have to set aside the frustration and focus on the importance of the message: vote.