Lily Nilipour | Torrey Pines High School Senior
It seems as though the presidential campaign is all that everyone has on their minds. For over a year, the conversations in U.S. History, Government and Economics classes have been centered on the election, and for good reason — the issues brought up by all candidates carry significant weight for our lives and for the prosperity of our nation and other nations. They are polarizing topics, not easily shied away from.
As students, we find our position and role in the election a difficult one to understand. Most of us cannot vote yet, so may feel as if our opinions hardly matter in the technical end result. But, when it comes down to the two presidential candidates — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — there seems to be a common pattern in students’ thoughts.
“This [presidential election] has been really long and divisive,” Farhan H., a sophomore at Torrey Pines, said. “I think people on both sides of the aisle are disappointed with the nominees, and I kind of feel the same.”
Because of such different values inherent in each of the candidates, we as students are forced to make a decision in favor of one candidate. Although Farhan would likely pick neither as president if given the choice, he in the end supports Clinton because “as a Muslim-American, I think [Trump’s] rhetoric to Muslims and other minorities is dangerous.”
On the other side, freshman at Torrey Pines Heidi S. said that, even though she is not a supporter of Trump, she would choose him over Clinton if she could vote.
“I am not in favor of either nominee … but I do believe that Hillary will not act upon her words if she is voted our president,” Heidi said. “I believe that while Trump isn’t politically correct and has said some offensive things, he does want to change America for the better.”
However, for senior Salman S., who previously supported Bernie Sanders with many other students at Torrey Pines, the polarization of the two parties leaves no room for people like himself who liked Sanders’ ideas and policies.
“This polarization has left voters with two choices that just don’t fit with the aftermath of such ideological change [that Sanders inspired],” Salman said. “Hillary Clinton, to many Bernie supporters, isn’t the progressive candidate that Sanders ever was, and her corrupt history doesn’t warrant support. Trump was nominated with the aid of far-right Republicans and found it quite difficult to capture the minds of moderates and independents.”
In such a situation of political turmoil and pointed fingers, students once again have a hard time fitting in with the political conversation. Many feel as though they must choose between two evils for the lesser — a convoluted viewpoint on American politics. As Salman puts it, “the 2016 election demonstrates the inability of our democratic system, at times, to function and perform its intended purpose.” And though it is quite a pessimistic viewpoint it is, as well, an acknowledgement of such governmental shortcomings that it is likely necessary for some sort of change to occur, so students and all citizens feel they have a place in American democracy.