On Tuesday, March 1, Virginia will hold its presidential primary, giving many PVI seniors the opportunity to vote for the first time. Despite many students expressing a general dissatisfaction with the pool of candidates, most seniors interviewed said they do intend to vote in the Virginia primary.
Primaries (or caucuses) are held in each state before the Nov. 8 general election in order to narrow the field of candidates and determine who receives the nomination in each party. The delegates are awarded proportionally in most states, so even if a candidate does not win outright in the state, he or she can win some delegates.
The Republican field this year is large and diverse. Currently, business giant Donald Trump holds a solid lead over the rest of the candidates, having won both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, plus the Nevada caucus. Close behind are Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, followed by dark horse John Kasich, who is the current governor of Ohio, and surgeon Ben Carson.
Caitlin Kwalwasser ‘16 expressed a popular opinion on the diversity of candidates running for the GOP.
“Many people are upset with the establishment, which has led to a diverse range of candidates from an evangelical surgeon [Carson] to a former tv show host [Trump],” said Kwalwasser.
For the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is squaring off against Senator Bernie Sanders. Even with only two candidates, the competition for the nomination in this party has been heated, with incredibly close races in the previous primaries.
When comparing the two parties, Sydney Conway ‘16 said the Democratic side has impressed her more.
“The Democrats are taking it a little more seriously than the Republicans,” she said. “They talk more about initiatives and real issues they would take in office. As much as Trump gets the attention and support from other voters, I don’t think he’s the best candidate.”
Candidates in the race for the Republican and Democratic nominations this year have to address domestic issues including taxes, health care, immigration, climate change, gun control, and criminal justice, as well as international threats such as ISIS. Additionally, with the recent news of Justice Scalia’s death and the uncertainty of whether political wrangling might prevent President Obama from confirming a successor, the potential choice of the new president to name a replacement will affect Supreme Court decisions for decades to come.
Needless to say, members of the Class of 2016 who choose to vote will participate in the first stage of a crucial election on March 1.
Acknowledging the importance of the election, several seniors expressed disappointment in the strength of this year’s candidate pool and feared the election is more about money and personalities than the real issues.
“To be honest, my opinion on the field of candidates is its extremely poor and the future of America does not look as bright as it once did,” said Spencer Lee ‘16. “Politics has evolved to what appears to be middle school quarrels.”
Classmate Tom Bourgeois ‘16 also decried the divisiveness and monetary focus of this presidential race in particular.
“This election shows me something I personally dislike: partisan-politics and the division it causes. Throughout the campaigning and laundering of funds and endless swirl of pointlessly expensive and resource-consuming madness… no politician has actually sought out logical argument.”
Kwalwasser also lamented how the political circus that occurs during primary season has distracted from the problems the country faces.
“It’s hilarious but also disheartening because they all seem to be vying for attention rather than the common good,” said Kwalwasser. “It’s the first election that I can vote in, and I honestly am not excited by it.”
Several more students shared similar sentiments, saying that they do not strongly support any of the candidates as the future leader of our country but will vote regardless, citing civic duty. Several students also acknowledged that their studies in government class at PVI have furthered their awareness of politics and inspired them to form an opinion on the subject.
“AP Government has definitely played a role in my political interest,” said Lee. “It has allowed me to make more informed decisions and see opposing standpoints on particular issues.”
No matter which candidate they vote for, the class of 2016 will play a role in the next chapter of our history on Tuesday.
Feature Image (Photo credit: Brendan C./ Flickr)