This presidential election season is one of the most controversial in history. As a result, a record-setting 132 million Americans are expected to vote on November 8. Included in that number will be approximately 33 students at All Saints’ who will hit the magical voting age of 18 prior to the election. As they and other young voters around our country gear up to vote, they have to decide who will be the best fit to be our executive officer. And in order to do that, they must be educated on the issues. How do they do that?
First, they must try to weed out the personal attacks. Yes, each candidate has disreputable qualities and actions. For example, Donald Trump has his sexual assault accusations, and Hillary Clinton is associated with the Clinton Foundation and her deleted emails about Benghazi. Even Gary Johnson has a newly formed reputation of not being educated about current world events. When asked how this compares to past elections, Dr. Bill Fanning, US History teacher, said “The political stories making the news today are not related to the topics that are meaningful for our country.”
Second, these young voters must be careful not to consider social media sound bytes as their only source of information. By definition, “social” media is created and shared by an individual or group of individuals. The risk is great, therefore, that facts get distorted along the way.
I’m proud that our school encourages us to be independent thinkers. Mr. Wallace Worden, US Dean of Students, says our students “are having thoughtful discussions about, not only the election, but issues in our country and world all the time.” And Ms. Ann Baldwin, US Government teacher, says it’s no accident that our students are required to take Government their senior year. “Many of our seniors are 18 by Election Day, and I assure you, they are well informed and ready to vote based on their own conclusions,” she added.
To gather data on how informed the voting seniors are at All Saints’, I emailed them several questions about the upcoming election:
- Who are you voting for in November?
- What views do you share with your choice for president?
- Do you share any views of the opposing candidate(s)?
Out of the 33 voting seniors, I received 12 responses. All of them had selected a candidate and articulated clear answers as to why. Sadly (for our country), the answer often included “the lesser of two evils.” As for citing policy agreement or disagreement, most did respond. Even those who supported the third party candidate, Gary Johnson, they knew one or two policies they agreed with.