Are you voting for Donald or Hilary?
Young adults are always the least likely to vote in Presidential elections, and even less in congressional elections. Young voters between the ages of 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups since 1964, with a rate of 38% in 2012. Why? One would think that perhaps this age would be the most important time to vote, mostly because as citizens we depend on elected officials to make decisions that will directly affect us later, like minimum wage regulation, Social Security, and foreign relations decisions.
Along with all the Kardashian drama and #BlackLivesMatter stories trending in the news lately, The 2016 Presidential Elections has been making headlines lately as well. In the past few months, many people have stepped up to the plate and declared their candidacy. There are also a select few that haven’t quite yet made the official move. But how many candidates do we really know about?
The media does a good job of making sure that we know all of the big names in the upcoming Presidential election, including Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jeb Bush. Who else is out there that we should know about?
Bernie Sanders is a democrat that represented Vermont in the U.S. House from 1991 to 2007, when he won a seat in the Senate. He has served as an elected official for a total of 34 years. He announced April 30th that he was running for President. He is more of a liberal, with a strong pro-choice stance and support of gay marriage. He strongly favors Obamacare, and supports the legalization of marijuana. He believes that we should tax the wealthy further, encourage and help immigrants, keep Social Security public, and not increase military spending. He is pro-civil rights, pro-environmental regulation, and pro-animal welfare. While he had a very slow start when he first launched his campaign, he is now just behind (and in some places even ahead) of Clinton in some early primary states.
Ben Carson is a former pediatric surgeon from Maryland. He has never held elective office. He announced his candidacy on May 5th. He is more of a conservative than Sanders, with strong pro-life and anti-gay marriage stances. He’s all about keeping religion in the public sphere and for the most part opposes Obamacare. He believes in the absolute right to gun ownership, that the wealthy shouldn’t be taxed more, and that we should not expand the military. Based on history alone, it’s highly unlikely that he can win the nomination. Neither party has nominated a candidate for Presidency without prior elected experience since Dwight Eisenhower, who was a veteran before Presidency.
Rand Paul is currently the Senator of Kentucky and has been an elected official for 4 years and counting. He announced his candidacy April 7th. He is very conservative when it comes to individual rights, with strong pro-life and anti-gay marriage stances. He feels strongly that the voting process should be easier, even stressing that felons should be able to regain the right to vote. He is against Obamacare, and strongly favors gun rights. He doesn’t agree with the over-criminalization of marijuana, and favors immigration reform. He does not believe in taxing the wealthy. His campaign is more of a neutral one, which keeps him from the top tier of Republican candidates, and also lacks a solid fundraising base, which keeps him from public view.
O’Malley is a former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore. He’s served as an elected official for a total of 23 years. He announced his campaign May 30th. He is generally pretty liberal when it comes to stances; he is pro-choice, is strongly for gay marriage, and is against the death penalty. He favors Obamacare and is against legalization of marijuana. He is supportive of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and of raising taxes on the wealthy. He thinks that we should expand the military and also build a rule-based global trading system. He probably couldn’t win the nomination mostly because he is caught between Sanders and Clinton. Additionally, the aftermath of the protests following the death of Freddie Gray makes it harder for him to run.
Ted Cruz is currently a Senator for Texas. He just ran in 2013 so only holds two years of experience as an elected official. He’s also served as deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and was Texas solicitor general in 2003. He launched his campaign on March 23rd. He holds conservative views overall, and is pro-life and against gay marriage. He believes EPA regulations are too restrictive and is against Obamacare. He favors gun rights and thinks that there should be lower minimums and mandatory sentencing for drugs. He opposes green energy and higher taxes, and even says we should abolish the IRS. He opposes immigration reform and believes that we should privatize Social Security and rise the retirement age. He’s a fierce advocate of recruiting and growing the military. His likelihood of a nomination is uncertain; he has outspoken stances. However, he does have experience with running and winning as an underdog.
These are just a few of the many candidates we have running for Presidency. As young adults it is important to educate ourselves. How? We can start by watching both the Democratic and Republican debates. This is how we can see how these candidates work in getting their points across, and what their stances truly are. The second Republican debate is on September 16th, followed by Oct. 28th and Dec. 15th. The first Democratic debate is October 13th, followed by November 14th, Dec. 19th, and Jan. 17th.
Secondly, we can research to see which candidates benefit each of us personally. A handy and pretty effective tool for this is isidewith.com. It is a political survey that goes over a wide variety of issues. I’ll admit it’s lengthy, but worth it! You go through the questions, choose your stances, and at the end the site tells you how much each of the candidates agree with your views. I found that before I took the quiz I was a Hilary supporter, when in fact Bernie Sanders tended to agree with me on more things that I felt were important. The good part about it is that if you aren’t sure of what an issue really means, you can click (or tap) the question mark and it explains the idea so you can make an informed decision. It even gives you an option of inputting your own stance if it doesn’t fit one of their options. This way, you can be an informed voter.
Lastly, we can go out and vote. We as American citizens have the privilege of having our voices heard when it comes to our government officials. Although the media and the National Committees may have their own agendas it is ultimately up to us to not only educate ourselves but to tell the government what we want. An overwhelming number of people under the age of 25 miss this opportunity every election, when in fact we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Let’s do ourselves a favor and make this election count.
Article By: Chynnah Tomlin