How Clinton and Trump are failing to connect with the young voting generation
For young adults between the ages of 18 and 21, the 2016 presidential election is their first chance to cast a vote and become politically active citizens. But for many of these 20 million young people, this paramount voting opportunity is a rather bleak occasion.
Today’s young adults face the grave dilemma that many Americans now struggle with: Do I vote for an untrustworthy democrat or an inexperienced and unpresidential republican? According to redalertpolitics.com, “Voters are interested in the 2016 presidential election, but they’re far from happy about it.”
An AP/NORC poll revealed that fifty five percent of the voting population felt helpless, with young adults making up two-thirds of that statistic. Redalertpolitics.com further reported, “The most common emotional response about the election was frustration, with 70 percent of respondents saying it describes their feelings…. The strongest feeling came from the 83 percent who said they did not feel proud about the election.”
Principia College students were asked to share their feelings about the two presidential candidates. With results that matched the aforementioned polls, the overall reaction indicated dissatisfaction and frustration.
Junior and political science major, Cha Cha Fisher, is a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. In response to a question regarding her personal feelings for the candidates, she said, “I will not vote for Trump because of several reasons, but the main reason is that I do not want his image to represent the Republican party…If Trump is the face of the party for the next 4 years, I think the party will irreversibly brand itself as racist, sexist, isolationist, and intolerant.”
When it came to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, Fisher’s sentiments were also negative. “I can’t vote for her either. While there is definitely a moral issue at hand with Donald Trump, it is more prevalent in my decision not to vote for her. She has lied and deceived the American people several times for her own political gain. She has disrespected the women that have been sexually harassed by her husband, again for her own political gain. Integrity is a very important value to me, especially in the office of our Commander in Chief.”
Since neither major party seems to possess candidates that the majority of young voters can connect with, it puts individuals like Fisher in a tricky position. Despite leaning towards being a member of the Republican Party, Fisher, like many others, feels her only hope is in voting for an Independent or Libertarian nominee. “I see my vote this November as a protest of the two-party system and a stance for integrity in politics,” said Fisher.
Senior Meredith Hamilton agreed with Fisher’s analysis of Trump as a detrimental influence on the Republican Party. Hamilton stated, “Personally, I think Donald Trump’s rise to prominence will spell bad news for the GOP regardless of the outcome in November. His blatant disregard for women and minorities does not reflect the attitudes of almost all Republicans.”
On Clinton, Hamilton said, “I have always liked Hillary Clinton, which I know isn’t a popular stance this election. She’s proved herself to be steady in conflict and speaks with incredible intelligence and acumen.”
In answering the question of the candidates’ ability to connect with our generation, most respondents agreed that this is an area in which both struggle once more. “I think both candidates have had a hard time connecting with our generation of millennials,” Fisher said. “As Bernie Sanders’ opponent, Hillary is not very appealing to younger voters. For Donald Trump, inclusion, social equality, acceptance, tolerance, and diversity are [all things] that Donald Trump lacks in his campaign.”
Sophomore Rachel Cook explained that the candidate’s age plays a big role in their ability to connect with young voters. “Both candidates are over the age of 65 and are already eligible for social security benefits, so in regards to being relatable, it’s hard to say they…connect with youth.”
However, Cook went on to explain that despite Trump’s age, “Trump is what everyone wants to be. Rich, successful, and living an extravagant life in which rules do not apply to him. He can say or do whatever he wants to, and although disgusting, I think there is a sense that people want to have what he has,” she said.
Hamilton also made the argument that young voters aren’t exactly turning out at the polling stations in droves. “Data shows that young voters vote at a lower rate than their older counterparts. So, although younger voters aren’t connecting as well with Trump and Hillary, it may not really matter in the long run,” she said.
When it came to whether one candidate was connecting with the younger voting generation better than the other in any form, sentiments leaned more towards Trump. “Trump is a celebrity, and as a result he knows how media works, and is able to use that to his advantage,” said an anonymous respondent. “Clinton on the other hand is having to pave her own roads, as this election is more than ever before influenced by the media. Clinton is also more of a typical politician who talks about her policies, which may or may not resonate with millennials.”
As it has been documented, the young people of our generation have a plethora of views about the candidates and their ability to connect with the millennials. Still, a large majority does not find either candidate to be entirely agreeable with their personal values and beliefs, leaving them feeling helpless, frustrated, and not at all proud of this election.