Democrats and Republicans back their political picks
The U.S. is on fire with political fervor, as the country marches closer and closer to November’s U.S. presidential contest. Though politics are often a subject left to those 18 and older who can vote and have a say, millions of teens and young adults across the country are interested in the vast and tricky world of politics.
Students at ARHS have always been notorious for their political savviness, and with the 2016 race as close as ever, many students are more engaged than ever.
Abigail Morris, a sophomore at ARHS, identifies as a Democrat, but said that it doesn’t always mean she fully supports everything the Democratic party stands for. Morris prefers to get her political 411 mostly online. However, she said, “I love going to Fox New’s website for a good laugh sometimes.”
Like many in Amherst, Morris supports Bernie Sanders “all the way.”
“[Sanders] votes pro-choice and is in favor of all LGBTQ issues 100% of the time,” said Morris.
Morris also likes his views on health care reform and the rising costs of college. She believes these things should be easily accessible to all no matter their financial status.
One issue Morris felt Sanders had not addressed enough was the Black Lives Matter movement, or what Sanders would do to keep funding Planned Parenthood.
“They are seen as this abortion clinic that is sucking money out of the government,” she said, “when in reality they don’t actually get any federal funding for abortions and less than 3% of what they actually do are abortions,” she said.
Morris has been a strong advocate for Sanders since the beginning of his campaign and has found it very easy to speak out in public about it, especially at ARHS. “I do feel comfortable in Amherst because most people have similar, liberal views as my own. But in other places I’ve lived and gone to school, much less so,” she said.
The hashtag phrase #feelthebern is commonly heard at ARHS and around Amherst regarding candidate Bernie Sanders throughout the 2016 presidential race, but many students at ARHS have a different preference for their ideal candidate.
One of these students, junior Mikah McNamara, supports Hillary Clinton as her favorite candidate. McNamara agrees with many of Clinton’s positions including her plan to toughen gun control laws, offer equal pay for equal work, stop climate change, and expand upon the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
McNamara also said that she believes Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders share a lot of common ground when it comes to the issues they support.
“I do feel comfortable expressing my political opinion, despite how many Bernie Sanders supporters there are at ARHS. But I wish that more Hillary and Bernie supporters could see the vast amount of common ground both the candidates share,” said McNamara.
“The fact is that Hillary and Bernie agree upon most liberal and progressive issues, so if people could see more of these similarities, it would create a more accepting environment for people to voice their opinions,” she said.
Though Amherst has always been a notoriously liberal town, there is also a significant population of adults and students who are Republicans and conservatives. One of these students, an anonymous ARHS junior, said her favorite candidate is Donald Trump.
“I mostly agree with building the wall because I don’t like immigrants getting in illegally,” said the student. “He’s also all about American business, bringing back American jobs from China, and bringing back companies that have moved overseas to cheaper regions. He is also for capital punishment and is against the legalization of marijuana, all of which I agree with.”
Though this student was always an avid Trump supporter, there were some issues where she disagreed with him. “I don’t like that he is pro-life because I feel like abortion should be a mother’s choice and not the government’s,” she stated.
Many students feel comfortable voicing their political views in school because they often share opinions with the majority of the students and staff. Because ARHS is predominantly liberal, some students who have more conservative views fear that they’ll be alienated if they speak out.
“Being attacked about this kind of thing makes me very upset. People are often very one-sided and don’t care or value other’s opinions,” said the Trump supporter.
Junior Lada Kvasyuk also shares similar conservative views, but was an avid supporter of Republican candidate Ted Cruz before the primary. “I agree with Ted Cruz the most, but sometimes I’ agree with other candidates such as Ben Carson and Donald Trump,” said Kvasyuk.
Some of the policies that Kvasyuk and Cruz agree on are those regarding Iran, his plan to fix the national budget and economy by cutting government spending, and implementing a nationwide flat tax rate with a maximum rate of 10%.
Often times environmental issues are not a focus in the Republican party, but Kvasyuk feels that there is a need to help the environment “without obsessing over it and overspending tax dollars on it.” Like other conservative students, she doesn’t always feel comfortable sharing her political opinions in public.
“People can be very hostile and often don’t understand what the definition of an opinion is. A lot of people praise accepting differing opinions, but don’t get that politics fall into that category and even if you’re morally opposed to something, others might see it differently,” said Kvasyuk. “That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. People believe different things; it’s not just black and white. Everyone has America’s best interest in mind, they just have different ideas about how to accomplish that.”