2020 Presidential Election Prompts Student Interest, Mixed Opinions

Nadia Shahab Diaz ’21, Staff Writer

Students share differing views on their thoughts for the 2020 Presidential election. Students expressed varying views on current President Donald Trump (R), and commented on various contenders for the Democratic Party nomination, such as Senators Bernie Sanders (D – VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D – MA)

Some students have emphasized the importance of supporting a candidate who they consider a better option than Trump. Katie Schorr ’21 will be voting Democrat next year, as “at this point in time, [she thought] it is important to vote for the candidate most likely to beat Trump in the election, even if that candidate is not the most exciting or ideologically perfect.” Student Senate President Kevin Ssonko ’20 also believed that the upcoming election will be critical, and that “without a legitimate movement to resist the neofascist Trump regime, who knows how much more suffering may loom in the future.” On a similar note, College Democrats President Preston MacLean ’20 said that the people of the United States “cannot afford to have a president [who] thinks he is above the law, who espouses racist and hateful rhetoric, equivocates white supremacists and their counter protestors and uses public moneys apportioned by Congress to pressure foreign nations for personal, domestic gain.”

College Republicans issued a statement, written by College Republican Vice President Shane Shuma ’22, which read “We like that there is a robust field of candidates on the Democratic side. We already see the campus is engaged and interested in the primaries because there is no clear frontrunner. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, it will be an interesting race to watch in November.”

Although she likes Sanders the most among the presidential candidates, Schorr did not feel very enthusiastic about any of them. Similarly, Ssonko also supported Sanders, admitting that he is not perfect, but that he “represents the only step in the right direction. In the words of Rosa Luxemburg, at this moment ‘it is either socialism or barbarism.’” 

 However, College Republicans Secretary Michael Kozinski ’21 thought that Sanders, and Warren, may have beliefs that are too left-wing to likely win the general election, and that Trump could “easily capitalize on that and give them catchy, but derogatory, nicknames like he did for his opponents in 2016.” Kozinski listed “Low-energy Jeb,” “Lyin’ Ted,” and “Crooked Hillary” as examples of such nicknames. He also pointed out that Trump had key advantages already, regardless of who his opponent ends up being, because “he is a first-term incumbent with a strong economy. Historically, first-term incumbents whose governance coincides with favorable economic conditions are difficult to defeat” in general elections. 

Students also talked about other candidates in the race who they favored. Kozinski mentioned that his favorite candidate in the Democratic field is Pete Buttigieg (D – IN), who “has the intelligence to be president, and he can certainly appeal to Midwestern voters.” Meanwhile, as a native Pennsylvanian, MacLean proudly supported former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, who he considered the best representative of the values of his home state and “a pragmatic progressive… that’s what we need in the White House to restore decency in this country, to unite us and reclaim our place as a global democratic leader on the world stage.” 

 Critiques also emerged. Fabian Cabrera ’21 frankly stated that he does not think that the candidates are “for the people,” and, as a result, America has not seen a president who embodies that value either. He has little hope for the 2020 presidential race. Additionally, there has been little mention of environmental issues and reproductive rights, according to Carolina Celedon ’22. She pointed out that “Senator [Kamala] Harris (D – CA) brought up an important point during the fourth democratic debate that reproductive rights have been largely ignored by candidates” and that sustainability efforts, “which are some of the most existential issues of the 21st century, have been overlooked since Jay Inslee left the race.” 

As briefly brought up by MacLean, many students seemed to want the results of the 2020 presidential race to lead to a more unified America. The race “won’t be defined by ‘who is a better candidate than Trump,’ it’s more based on who can unify the people” and bring a harshly-divided nation together, according to Sayahn Mudd ’21. In regard to partisan divisions, Kozinski ’21 stated that “regardless of who wins, it is imperative to stem the tide of toxic partisan rhetoric.” As President of the Dickinson College Democrats, MacLean hoped that the best candidate will come about as a result of “honest, good faith debate and consideration.”

 Assistant Professor of Political Science Katie Marchetti recommended that not too much “weight [is put] into individual polls as it’s still very early. Things will definitely shift.”