On the eighteenth birthday of an American citizen, they become an adult. They are tried as such in a court of law, they become allowed to purchase certain items that were once forbidden and they are granted the right to vote. With the presidential election nearing on the horizon, 18 year old Seaholm students are chomping at the bit to exercise that right.
With the Michigan primary happening today, March 8, some students’ opportunities have already begun. Senior Maclane Paddock has every intention of voting in the Michigan primary and urges her peers to do the same.
“If you don’t participate that is the easiest thing to do to continue to give power to people who aren’t really going to make changes,” Paddock said.
Frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton of the Grand Old Party (GOP) and Democratic Party respectively are racking up ballots after Tuesday, March 1, the primary season’s second Super Tuesday.
After Obama’s rise to power fueled primarily by youth voters, one would expect that to be a crucial part of the top candidate’s repertoire. However, the youth tend not to be attracted to neither Clinton nor Trump. This continues to be evident through the halls of Seaholm as well.
“I’ve really been struggling with this election,” Paddock said. “There have been times when I’ve been genuinely afraid of what is going to happen.”
Paddock has a relatively universally accepted opinion. After speaking to five different students identifying as Democratic, Conservative, Moderate, or some undefined mixture of the parties, none are vying for a race between Trump and Clinton, although most agree that it seems to be inevitable.
Senior Maya Salinas, identifying as a conservative, believes (as confirmed by the New York Time’s “Super Tuesday Takeaways”) that the rational members of the GOP are split between the 3 candidates besides Trump: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.
“If two of the candidates could drop out and put their support behind another one of the three, then I don’t see it being Trump/Clinton,” Salinas said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, while Clinton leads the Democratic Party commandingly with ballots, it is still statistically possible that her only competition, Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, could end up beating her. Sanders, with nearly two-thirds of the youth vote in most states according to Time Magazine, is ruling that demographic.
“I think [the youth vote] is actually incredibly powerful because it’s often underestimated and the youth vote is what’s going to matter,” senior Hannah Whitman and Sanders supporter said. “In several years, those are going to be the adults who are going to be running the country and in charge of things. What we say now really matters for our future so I think it’s fairly important that people our age do vote.”
The students interviewed confirmed that this president’s term in office would coincide with their years in college. This president will seal their adolescence to a close.
“Regardless of whom we vote for, whether it ends up being a mistake and we learn from that or it ends up being the right thing, we can build upon that,” Paddock said.
The next time an election rolls around, there will be adult responsibility in their hands. This next president will either aid in or amplify the pressure of the real world.
“The youth vote is super powerful because everyone coming out of high school and going into college is choosing a candidate that works best for them and that would help them reach their potential,” senior Alex Pederson said.
With each passing day, more and more American citizens turn 18 and are permitted to contribute. The majority of students at Seaholm that can vote plan to do so.
Senior Ariel Zalesin confesses that she is not sure the youth vote is being taken as seriously in this election as it has been in the past.
“We are the next generation and the new beliefs,” Zalesin said. “We do make a difference, but sometimes it depends on how much our voice is heard and how much the older generation wants to hear it.”
Regardless of the outcome, this election, as every one does, will lead to development or regression, depending on one’s point of view.
“This election is a really polarizing one since you have the candidates like Donald Trump on one end and other candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who are very, very conservative compared to Bernie Sanders who is really pushing what democrats are thinking and he’s very liberal,” Whitman said. “Whichever candidate wins, there are going to be a lot of changes.”
Why not be an active part of that change?
“It’s the first election that I ever get to vote in and I feel this sense of duty that I have to go and do this,” Paddock said.
“I’m excited to vote, but I’m incredibly nervous,” Zalesin said.
The five students all agreed that their general reaction to the current candidate pool is nervousness. All attempted to provide an alternate solution to the dawning Trump v Clinton race: Whitman pushing for Sanders, Salinas and Pederson putting their hope into either Rubio or Kasich, Paddock proposing Mayor Michael Bloomberg run as an Independent, and Zalesin in complete shock and denial.
“I am very worried but I’m also hopeful because I really want to believe that America is smart and logical and in the end will pick the right person,” Paddock said, “and if not, we always have the option to overthrow the government. It’s in the constitution.”
By: Melanie Taylor