Outside looking in: American King’s students reflect on presidential election

(Photo: Flickr/Norton Center)

(Photo: Flickr/Norton Center)

The 2016 presidential race happening in the United States is unavoidable. It’s on your Facebook news feed, the radio, the TV and even debated in your classes. Presidential races often attract the attention of the media, but this one takes the cake with scandal after scandal being spun out and analyzed. After all, who could forget Donald Trump’s infamous “grab her by the p—y” quote, or the endless fiasco surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails?

As Canadians, most of us can’t help but watch the election the way one watches a car accident unfolding: with equal parts horror and fascination. The US is our biggest trade partner, and their policies have far-reaching impacts on global politics. With two of the most unpopular candidates in history running, most of us northerners are relieved to not be in their shoes.

Leading up to tomorrow’s election, I decided to head out across the campus and talk to a few of the American King’s students. I wanted to hear what their thoughts were on the race, and if they planned on voting. If I myself could choose one word to sum up their comments, it would be Armageddon.

Kyril Wolfe, a third-year student from Wakefield, Massachusetts, referred to the election as “the craziest, most ridiculous and most entertaining thing I’ve ever seen, even though it’s also plain-old horrifying.” When I asked him why he felt this way, he responded:

“The choice of candidates is just rather bad. Take a look at one candidate, who spends no time in politics whatsoever, seems a little bit shady as a businessman and also just as a person, he seems utterly without honour. On the other hand, you have someone who has spent their entire adult life in politics and is corrupt up to their eyeballs and seems to be doing literally everything that we would want the system not to do.”

Wolfe identifies as a right-leaning independent and plans to vote for Trump. Although he was the only Trump supporter I met on campus, he was far from being the only disillusioned young voter.

When I asked another student what he thought of the candidates he would have to vote for on Nov. 8, first-year student Andrew Burroughs, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, had this to say:

“Both candidates are symbolic of the wealthy and the powerful, and it’s Armageddon, because no matter who’s elected, nothing’s going to change. They’re both supportive of the wrong facets of society to change anything.”

Burroughs told me he was frustrated by the lack of respectable options and didn’t feel like either candidate would fight for the middle or working classes. He identifies as a centrist who considers himself socially liberal but economically conservative.

The biggest issue he’s concerned about this election season is income inequality. Although he’ll be voting for Hillary, he doesn’t particularly like her and feels she is the lesser of the two evils.

“Hillary Clinton is a liar, and Donald Trump is a crook.”

Ebi Helmke, a first-year student from Tampa, Florida, will also be voting for Clinton, despite her many misgivings. She has dual Canadian and American citizenship, but she has spent most of her life in the United States.

Helmke voted for Bernie Sanders during the nomination process, explaining that, in Florida, you can’t legally vote in the primaries unless you are a registered member of a political party. Although she originally identified as a left-leaning independent, she switched her registration to be able to support Sanders. However, many voters either didn’t register or were registered for a different party, which she thinks prevented Bernie from winning the democratic nomination.

Like Burroughs and Wolfe, Helmke is not at all pleased with her choice of candidates.

“I don’t think Hillary Clinton is going to be good for the country, I don’t agree with her policies, I don’t agree with her no-fly zone regarding Russia, but then Trump has no real political stance. He’s just an ideologue, he just says inflammatory things.”

Helmke thinks voting for Clinton is the best option, despite not agreeing with most of her policies. As she pointed out, Florida is a critical swing state where every vote counts, and she can’t think of anything worse than a Trump presidency.

However, if she lived in a state that was solidly democratic, she would be supporting Jill Stein, whose beliefs line up better with her own.

All three King’s students are dissatisfied with the candidates this year and are happy to be removed from the situation, if only temporarily. However, all three also stressed the importance of voting, despite not loving any of the candidates. Burroughs summed up the situation best, stating:

“[Up in Canada] I feel like a fish that got out of the fish bowl, but I’m looking in.”