The 2016 presidential election will conclude Tuesday, Nov. 8, and with it the 45th president of the United States will be chosen. It takes an extraordinary individual to succeed under the pressures of the office, and who you cast your vote for is one of the most important decisions you make as a citizen.
Terrell Johnson, a philosophy major who plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, said that his personal philosophy is what guided him to making his decision.
“I don’t believe in demonizing people for their past, but rather what they are doing in the present,” Johnson said. “Hillary Clinton made some mistakes in the past that we are all aware of, but Trump is currently making mistakes that could jeopardize our future … I think Trump is going to blow it up.”
Despite seeing Secretary Clinton as a far more capable leader, Johnson isn’t voting for her with the expectation that she will bring any real positive change to the country, but rather that she won’t be a complete failure.
“I see the gridlock her Presidency would cause as more beneficial than Trump being controlled by interest groups and doing things that common Americans wouldn’t like,” Johnson said. “No one wants [the wall]. No one.”
He hopes that if elected, Clinton will help improve minority neighborhoods by investing the necessary resources, which he believes is the key drawing money into the local economy and raising communities out of poverty.
But some have a more optimistic prediction of a Clinton presidency. TJ Carpenter, a communications and public relations major, also plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“One: She is not Donald Trump,” he said. “[And] Two: She is going to be an innovation for the political system … I really think that she is going to make a lot of progress where we need to.”
Carpenter said that most people have a negative perception of Hillary largely due to the all of the negativity and inaccurate rumors that have dominated the campaign, and that if given the chance she would defy expectations. Proud to proclaim “I’m with her!” he hopes she wins the election and makes human rights a centerpiece of her administration’s agenda.
Nathan Sams, a history major graduating in May, plans to vote for Donald Trump.
“The way I see this election [is that] it isn’t left versus right; it’s nationalism versus globalism,” he said. “While I am not a hardcore nationalist … the way I see it, the primary concern of the president shouldn’t be what happens in foreign countries. I don’t want to see us try and become the police of the world. It’s not our responsibility … I don’t understand why we are taking in thousands of refugees, yet the middle east, countries like the [United Arab Emirates], [and] Saudi Arabi have taken in zero.”
Sams sees Trump’s foreign policy stance as one that pushes other nations to assume some of that responsibility for the state of world. He also pushes back on the stereotype that Trump supporters are racists or isolationists.
“I’m not racist, I don’t hate immigrants,” he said. “But I think rapidly flooding a social structure with different demographics can cause very significant change.”
While Sams admits that his candidate isn’t perfect, he believes he is a far better candidate than Hillary Clinton.
“Do I think Trump is an overly smart man? No … He is just not a political man,” Sams said. “I understand that may complicate things in his run for office, but I don’t believe him to be of ill intent. Whereas, when I look at Hillary, I see a Lenin or a Stalin; whoever she screws over doesn’t matter as long as she ends up on top … George Washington had no political career. … But people loved him. He was an American hero. I wouldn’t judge [Trump] until he is in office.”
Political science major Connor Haley has a different plan for election day. He plans to vote for a lot of candidates, but none of them will be for president.
“I despise both candidates,” he said. “Last election , I voted for Mitt Romney. I trusted both candidates and felt they were both of moral character, and I think the opposite this time. I think [Clinton and Trump] are both untrustworthy and lack moral character.”
Haley is disappointed by the fact that Trump’s ability to ride the wave of frustrated middle class voters who feel disenfranchised and Hillary’s seemingly endless political connections enabled them to secure their parties nominations and block out candidates he felt would have been better. For him, there are no winners on election day.
“You have two worst case scenarios, and one of them is inevitable,” Haley said.
Kimberly Rhodes, another political science major, has a different perspective. While neither candidate was her first choice, she believes that being a voter in a hotly contested swing state makes it imperative that she cast her vote for the lesser of two evils.
“You have to have somebody who isn’t going to offend dignitaries, presidents, and royalties, and Trump says lots of offensive things,” she said. “[It seems] like nothing gets processed through his brain before he speaks it.”
While she is not an avid supporter of Clinton, Rhodes fears Trump’s mouth would undermine his ability to be an effective president or worse, drag the U.S. into an international incident.
“I would rather have a lying, regular politician than some guy who makes me want to hold my purse as close as possible,” Rhodes said.
For Stephanie Brown, who is studying to become an intervention specialist, choosing who to vote for was easy.
“Of course Hillary,” she said. “I couldn’t vote for Trump.”
Brown thinks Trump is the wrong guy for the job: his offensive rhetoric, his alleged treatment of women, his multiple business failures; the list goes on.
“Did I want Hillary?” Brown asked rhetorically. “No, I wanted Bernie, but I don’t want someone like Trump running our country … Hillary probably won’t make things much better, but she probably won’t make things any worse either; therefore, she is the better choice.”
Despite not having a ton of faith in Secretary Clinton, Brown hopes that she will feel compelled to take on at least some of the issues Bernie Sanders raised in his campaign.
“If she could at least do one thing that she and Bernie agreed upon that would be great,” Brown said. “Particularly making public college education free, particularly for those who go into community service careers like teaching or law enforcement.”
The election is rapidly approaching. Tuesday will be here before you know it. Even if you are not satisfied with the choices, make your voice heard then or take advantage of early voting. Read up on the candidates and their platforms and get out to the polls. Because on Nov. 9, we are going to have to start climbing the cliff we drove off of, and it looks like a long way up.