The Road to the White House
November 8, 2016
Spread across the headlines of mainstream media everywhere is the idea that the 2016 election is one for the history books; a ground-breaking, extraordinary procedure of events that this country has been through 57 times before, from the election being launched over a year before the general vote to the results of the primaries. But what would a high school student know of how unimaginable this election has been? Because of the age range of Robinson students and perfect timing of this election, the 2016 election, coupled with the musical Hamilton is probably the first experience most Robinson students have had with American democracy. Along with most teenagers across the country, this is the election that is teaching the majority of Robinson students most of what they know about participating in politics.
“In 2012 the presidential election was really interesting to me because I was in civics class… [but] now that I’m older, I listen to the media a lot more and I’m more interested,” said senior, Karenna Oner. Even though she is not eligible to vote, the election has still been a learning experience for her. “There’s a lot more coverage … even if there’s something happening in the world the headlines are always from the campaign.”
On March 23, 2015, about a year before presidential primaries began, republican Ted Cruz was the first to announce his candidacy for the 2016 election. 16 more republicans followed in suit, including neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and businessman, and current GOP candidate, Donald Trump.
Within the mix of these political outsiders were some familiar political faces, including Jeb Bush, son and brother to the former Bush presidents. News outlets overflowed with predictions on how the 2016 elections would result in the continuation of the Bush dynasty. However, in the background, a not-so-subtle Trump took hold of the polls consistently at first. His upfront call for change, most notably in foreign policy, created a compelling aspect to this election that drew populous attention to the race. Being a more radical and outgoing (to say the least) republican party candidate, Trump immediately distinguished this election from any other. He both polarized the Republican party, and engaged people in politics who otherwise may never have gotten involved. Trump’s upfront and boisterous personality ignited the entire nation, whether it was the people hoping his support was temporary, and others who excitedly rallied around this potential change in Washington.
The Democratic Party was also met with a returning figure when Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for the nomination. Clinton ran alongside Harvard professor, Lawrence Lessig, United States Senator, Jim Webb, and former governors, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee, and most notably, United States Senator, Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ spark for a political revolution resonated with many teens, polling 84 percent support from young democrats in the early stages of the primaries. His platform revolved around economic inequality and wealth distribution; keeping the 1% in check and giving more power to the middle class.
In the end, Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first female nominee from any major party. Donald Trump also made history by taking the nomination for the Republican party without any previous political experience, which hasn’t happened in 60 years.
Although Clinton and Trump dominate the national polls and news cycle, they are not the only presidential candidates that are appearing on ballots this November. Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson are both gathering support from voters who are unsatisfied with Clinton and Trump. In addition to the usual committed third party voters, Stein has gathered additional support from Sanders supporters who refuse to vote Clinton, and Johnson has rallied many Republicans who simply can’t put their support in Trump.
“There [is] a lot of dislike for the two candidates because of all the scandals… they’re not very likeable people so a lot of people [are] getting more behind Gary Johnson and other options” said Oner.
The characters that surfaced during this election cycle made 2016 a memorable election for the entire country, and an interesting start to many people’s political participation. This uniqueness set the precedent for how Robinson students will look at United States civics for the rest of their lives.