UGA Students’ Views on the Presidential Election

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By Ashton Jones

Every election the polls try to predict the outcome, but they can never tell a complete story about the mindsets of demographics. And more importantly, the thoughts of individuals.

Given this, I found it important to consider the thoughts and feelings of millennials, for many of whom this is their first chance to vote in a presidential election. What do they think about America today? What do they think about each candidate? What about race relations in this country? Where will this country be four years down the line?

To find out the answers to these questions, I spoke to four University of Georgia students. Each student — Adam Hitti, Louis Conde, Hannah Sbaity, and Jade Fortiner — all come from different backgrounds and political affiliations, but they congregate mostly around the same major and year. Their opinions, just like circumstances, are fairly varied, and all offer unique perspectives on our current election.

I have chosen certain questions to publish in this article, but when the interviews were conducted, all were asked the same questions. This allows for an easier comparison of views. Further, there has been light editing to allow for better understanding of the interviewee’s conversations in a written format. The questions are denoted in bold, while answers are in standard print. All photos were taken by Shubham Kadam.

 

Hannah Sbaity

Age: 18

School Year: First

Major: Political Science and International Affairs

Political Affiliation: Democrat

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about the possibility of Donald Trump being our next president? 

I am totally against the idea. I don’t feel comfortable, especially as a Middle Eastern woman. I am very offended by what he says; not only for my kind but also for others who are minorities in this country. I think he is rude, and is unthoughtful about what he says and is inconsiderate; and in order to be president, you need to consider those from other nations, especially when America is a “melting pot”.

And what about Hillary Clinton?

I am a Hillary supporter all the way. I love her. I think she is the right person. I know a lot of people in America don’t agree, especially with her husband’s past, but I don’t think that has anything to do with her being president. I think her staying by his side and pushing her way through and making something of herself, and becoming the most powerful person in this nation, shows how strong of a woman she is and how great she will be for our nation.

Where do you see America in four years?

God help it. It is heading in the wrong direction, especially with external conflicts. If you look at it foreign policy wise, I see- I predict- a lot of problems, not only national security, but natural resources, especially oil in the Middle East. If we continue to see problems happening in the Middle East, I don’t know how much of any effect that will have on our oil supply, but we [may] start having to resort to our national oil reserves.

Which candidate do you believe will win this November?

It’s a close call honestly. I’m just praying it’s Hillary because America could be doomed if Trump becomes president. So it could go either way; it’s a close call…they [both] have [a] large amount of supporters. We’ll see how it goes.

Race relations in this country are not stable as they were even just four years ago; do you believe that either Clinton or Trump can mend these divisions?

Definitely, Hillary [since] Trump is just adding fuel to any fire that’s already out there…if anything, Hillary throws ice on everything, and cools its down.

 

Adam Hitti

Age: 18

School Year: First

Major: Political Science and English

Political Affiliation: Republican

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about the possibility of Donald Trump being America’s next president?

It’s pretty scary that the fate of our country is in his hands, especially about the stuff he says and the things he believes in.

And what about Hillary Clinton?

The same thing goes- it’s pretty scary that our fate could be in her hands as well. She doesn’t really say rational things. She has a little more, you know, experience. However, some of the things she does may not [be safe].

Elaborate on what you mean as scary on both candidates?

Scary as in the next four to eight years, either candidate, who [both] lack…the mindset to become president. Who lack the leadership. Who lack the traits necessary of a person who can run a country…filled with millions of people…who can control our lives for the next four years is pretty nerve-wracking.

Where do you see America four years from now?

[He chuckles] Even worse than it is right now. …I think the national debt will further increase. I think the defense of our country is going to be greater [sic], you know, vulnerable. We might be in a war four years from now…in the Middle East. I know tensions are going to rise here; it’s just not going to be a good atmosphere for us to live in.

Race relations in this country are not as stable as they were even just four years ago; do you believe that either Clinton or Trump can mend these divisions?

[There is a short pause] Well I can tell you that one major candidate who would not do that would be Donald Trump. Obviously he is a bigot. He is a racist. He’s ignorant. Again, I don’t really have a preference for Hillary Clinton, but I do feel as if anybody was to unify the country in some sort of way, [it] would be Hillary. Just given [that] she is the first woman president; she’s [got] women on her side. She’s got…the Democratic votes.

 

Jade Fortiner

Age: 18

School Year: First

Major: International Affairs and Biology

Political Affiliation: Independent

 

 

 

 

What are your general feeling about this election?

Both of the candidates are terrible. All of the candidates, I guess; there are more than two. No one knows what they are doing about anything, and they’re all interested in themselves…so it’s really irritating to watch.

Then how do you feel about Donald Trump being America’s next president?

Well, if I wanted an authoritarian dictator, there are multiple other countries I can move to, but I chose America, and I hate him.

What about Hillary Clinton?

I think she is a threat to national security. I don’t trust her, but she’s also not a racist.

Where do you see America in four years?

I think it is going to be an interesting situation. Racial tensions are definitely increasing. I don’t know. I think it’s going to be more divided.

Race relations in this country are not stable as they were even just four years ago; do you believe that either Clinton or Trump can mend these divisions?

Definitely not Donald Trump. That’s for sure. I don’t really think that any of them are making that a focal point. …I have heard them argue more about tax returns and emails instead of about what they plan to do for our country’s [race] relations.

Which candidate do you believe will win in November?

That’s a hard one. I…bounce back and forth; I think it will…depend on what stupid comments Trump makes that week, and if we find out anything about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

 

Louis Conde

Age: 20

School Year: Third

Major: Political Science and International Affairs

Political Affiliation: Democrat

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about the possibility of Donald Trump being America’s next president?

Honestly terrified. Disappointed. I feel like crying every time I think about it. It’s probably the worse situation that we could possibly put ourselves in. I mean placing a sexist pig as our president would be the worst thing to do as a country.

In the same regard, how about Hillary Clinton?

I mean she’s the most qualified candidate we have ever had. She was Secretary of State; she was already in the White House before. She’s worked in government since she was like 15. I believe that she could do a good job at what she does. I personally don’t like some of her policies, but I prefer her to lead a country than anybody else. …I feel some passion towards some of her policies like her immigration or education ones. There are just some I’m a little indifferent about.

In general, how do you see America four years down the line? Do you think it is going to be a better place or is it going to be a worse place?

Oh! [He laughs] It depends on who is going to be president. If Hillary is president, I feel like we will progress forward. Not a grand huge jump forward. But in a Trump presidency, I see a dim light at the end at the end of the tunnel for America. [It] will be a rough time.

Race relations in this country are not in a good place; I think we can [both] agree on that. …Do you believe Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, someone else would be the best fit to bring people back together, and mind those situations?

I would not say any of them are the best fit to bring any of these situations together. …Hillary is a Democrat and …Jill Stein supports social reform. Gary Johnston does. Trump says he does, but in reality he doesn’t. They’re all upper class white individuals; they don’t understand the system like that [sic] there is social racism. They don’t understand the struggle that some people go through. They pretend like they do, but they don’t understand. So I feel like if it is going to be someone, it’s going to be the people.

Conclusion

When these interviews were conducted, there were still a couple of weeks left in the election, and now America is on the edge of electing a new president. I think I can make the bold claim that when this election has finished, everyone, even through all its entertainment, will be glad.

Thus, what can easily be taken from these interviews is the anguish and angst about this election cycle present in millennials, or as better put by Conde: “I feel like crying every time I think about it.”

Yet, regardless of this feeling, each interviewee agrees that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate in this election, and has the best ability to calm racial tensions. While Donald Trump is seen as a “bigot”, a “racist”, and “ignorant,” who is simply just “adding fuel to any fire that’s already out there.”

However, interestingly, this does not mean that they view the future of America in a positive light. In fact, they see “a lot of problems — not only national security, but natural resources, especially oil in the Middle East.” It is depressing to note that the up-and-coming generation sees the future in a dangerous problem-ridden light. But, perhaps this is realistic.

Nevertheless, the theoretical future has infinite possibilities, and thus this election will have one of the greatest impacts on how this future is formed. America is literally choosing its destiny. What will affect this destiny? Perhaps Fortiner has the answer: “I think it will depend on what stupid comments Trump makes that week, and if we find out anything about Hillary Clinton’s emails.”

Trump has since been accused of sexual crimes after these interviews were conducted. Will this cause Trump to lose the election, as Fortiner predicts?

And Clinton has found herself back in the email scandal after James Comey’s letter to Congress. She was recently exonerated for the second time on November 6. But still, will this cause Clinton to lose the election, as Fortiner predicts?

We will just have to wait and see.

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