Editorial: Cast a Ballot, Not a Stone

Why college students should vote

Assistant Editor-in-Chief Hannah Hawkins

Note from about myself: I am not a political guru. I have never really been into politics until this election, and even now, I still know relatively little. I will be the first to admit that. But after doing some research, my hope is to bring an unbiased report of the presidential candidates, and why everyone - especially my fellow students at UH Hilo - should vote.

This year’s presidential election has been shocking, to say the least. During the third presidential debate, I almost could not take the candidates seriously. The first two debates really irritated me, but by the third I was laughing about the ridiculousness of the candidates-- Trump’s snarky remarks and Grumpy Cat scowl, coupled with Clinton’s Cheshire Cat grin, which flashed whenever Trump hurled allegations against her. What a hoot.

It’s interesting to me to see Trump airing live to millions of people while in front of a podium talking about “Crooked Hillary” - instead of sitting behind a table talking about who to fire, as if he’s still on The Apprentice. And how about Clinton and those emails. So much controversy, it baffles me that they still haven’t come to a solid conclusion on all of it.

Much to our entertainment, Trump is still tweeting and opening grand new hotels, and Hillary is attending Adele concerts right before Election Day. Never in a million years did we expect this to be the outcome presented before us: candidates who are so different, yet so similar.

They have had their glory. Now is our time. We the people hold the power to decide who we want to be our next commander-in-chief - who will shape America in the time to come.

I took it upon myself to see what UH Hilo students had to say about this election. Of the students polled, 58 percent do not plan to vote during this election. Of the other 42 percent who do plan to vote, 60 percent of them already know which candidate they will back; half said they were voting for Clinton, while the other 50 percent simply prefered not to answer.

It was curious to me why so many prefered not to answer when the results were kept anonymous? Maybe for a sense of privacy, maybe for fear of scrutiny or judgement. After all, some people hold very strong opinions of each candidate. I’m not here to say one person is right while another is wrong. It is apparent that some people love to argue and this debate is one that could go on forever.

Instead, using common knowledge about the parties - Democrats typically being more liberal and Republicans being more conservative - let's put all the Trump versus Hillary banter and bullsh*t aside and look at what each candidate stands for.

Here’s what I found:

Donald Trump

  • Supports building a wall to control immigration; he has previously expressed support for deporting all illegal immigrants, and banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
  • Generally opposes new spending; prioritizes budget cuts, debt reduction
  • Generally against across-the-board cuts in entitlement programs
  • Opposes restrictions on gun ownership and use; endorsed by the NRA
  • Supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”
  • Pro-life
  • Believes marriage equality should be decided among the states
  • Supports lowering taxes and eliminating certain tax brackets

Hillary Clinton

  • Supports making public colleges tuition-free
  • Supports certain restrictions on gun ownership and use, including background checks and banning several types of assault weapons
  • Has called for “fixing” Obamacare
  • Supports “comprehensive immigration reform,” including a path to legal status and citizenship for some undocumented residents currently in the United States
  • Advocates for raising the federal minimum wage
  • Pro-choice
  • Supports LGBTQIA+ rights, including marriage equality
  • Supports the creation of a tax credit for the middle class, while raising taxes on wealthier earners, including an increase in the capital gains tax

To me, all the political talk in media - including TV and the Internet - is exhausting. Does it really even matter in the end? Granted, there is some validity to what the news brings us. But some of it really seems like just entertainment- something done for show. Media broadcasts seem to be heavily saturated with Trump verbally bashing Clinton, and Clinton bashing Trump. They both make lofty promises of what they will do once they are in office, but do we really know if they will keep their word? How will they make these ideas happen? If the candidates were as keen to talk just about their plans of action - instead of airing out dirty laundry, - perhaps this race wouldn’t have been so emotionally draining.

We’ve all been around people who are over-the-top dramatic or prey on emotions. Do we really want someone like that to be our leader? Hopefully, if that happens they will change their tune once they are in office. But at this point it seems like we are having to pick between the lesser of two evils. But wait! We shouldn’t forget about the third-party candidates.

Jill Stein

  • Pro-choice
  • Campaigns primarily on economic and environmental issues
  • Supports cuts in defense spending cutbacks in the military
  • Supports LGBTQIA+ rights, including marriage equality
  • Supports the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Supports legalizing marijuana
  • Has advocated for free college, as well as forgiveness of student loan debt
  • Supports gun safety measures, including background checks
  • Has called for implementing “single-payer” universal health care

Gary Johnson

  • Opposes defunding Planned Parenthood
  • Prioritizes debt and spending reduction
  • Supports LGBTQIA+ rights, including marriage equality
  • Would eliminate corporate taxes
  • Wants to legalize marijuana instead of spending $70 billion on 1.8 arrests
  • Supports education reform, including “school choice”
  • Opposes mandatory vaccine laws
  • Generally opposes restrictions on gun ownership and use
  • Has called for less federal control over entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid

Although there seems to be many unknowns in this presidential race, one thing that is apparent is the end is near. Election Day is Nov. 8, and on that day we will likely know who will become the 45th President of the United States of America. I urge every student to cast a ballot, if they have not already. The importance of doing so is vital.

Our generation may be very affected with the outcome of some of these issues - college debt, health insurance, social issues, and constitutional rights, to name a few. If we do not show up to vote, we will have no say. It may be as good as crumpling up tens of hundred dollar bills in some cases and throwing them in the trash. We as young adults must educate ourselves and utilize our right to vote.

I do not care who you vote for. You may be an arch-conservative, or a full-blown liberal. You may not take a strong stand on most issues; you may hold gripping convictions on some. I challenge you to stop criticizing each candidate based on what he or she may or may not have done, said, or meant. Instead, make a decision based on what they can and WILL do for our country. Stop passing judgement and throwing stones at the candidates. Let us not forget that they are human just like us. Instead, go out to the polls - or mail your ballot - and help our country continue to grow.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.