With only three weeks left of the election season, various first-time voters are torn. Choosing between the “lesser of two evils” is how some people have been looking at the election ballot, and for some Keene State College students, they are no exception.
When President Bill Clinton visited the KSC campus on Monday, Oct. 17, many students attended in order to decide if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the right choice.
Bill touched upon many policies such as healthcare, higher education and drug abuse, but all these messages were aimed at getting students passionate enough to vote.
“I want you to go out [in] the next 22 days and first, feel good about your country and your future and know that nobody is in a better position,” Bill said, “but know that it does require answers over anger. It does require empowerment over resentment. It does require cooperation over endless conflict and it requires, as hard as it is sometimes, bridges not walls.”
Hillary’s policies were new for some students to hear, but others have been set on Hillary and her policies since the primary results were released back in February.
KSC junior Bethany Peterson said she is definitely voting for Hillary. Although she was a Sanders supporter before the primaries, she said voting for Sanders is a waste of a vote.
“I was supporting Bernie originally, but I know that writing in Bernie isn’t going to do anything,” Peterson said. “As a Democrat, we need to stand together to get other Democrats into office. Students need to hear what their [Hillary’s] campaign is about because I think that the student population is going to be a majority of Clinton’s supporters.”
While some students such as Peterson have switched their support from Sanders to Clinton, others are still undecided.
KSC senior Brian Arnold said he is unsure who he will vote for, but recognizes that voting in this election is very important. “This election is not up to the standard that we have seen in past years. This is a bad election, but it is still our civic duty to go out and vote,” Arnold said. “If you don’t voice your opinion when you have the opportunity, then you shouldn’t talk down when the decision has been made.”
Deciding not to vote has been a default for people who are frustrated with the two candidates from the major parties. Similar to Arnold, Peterson said not voting because of disappointment will only make things worse.
“What I’ve been saying to all of my friends who don’t want to vote is that they need to educate themselves. If you’re standing by, you are basically giving a vote to the other person. Yeah, it sucks and it is a really hard decision, but not voting is not helpful for anyone in this society. As an American, I think everybody should care,” Peterson said.
While a majority of the crowd at President Clinton’s speech were Hillary supporters, advocates for Hillary’s opponent, Donald Trump, did not go unnoticed. Trump supporters stood nearby with signs and t-shirts stating “Hillary for Prison 2016” and “Make America Great Again.”
KSC junior Hunter Cinq-Mars was among the group of protesters, and said Hillary’s past “really scares him,” but Donald Trump is not exactly what he had in mind for the next president. “It’s not exactly what I was hoping for, and I do think it would be better if he had a better background,” Cinq-Mars said.
Keene resident and veteran Jim McConnell was also among the Hillary opposers.
“I’m supporting Donald Trump. He wasn’t my first choice, but he won the primary fair and square,” McConnell said. “As far as I’m concerned, the Clintons have dedicated their lives to giving white trash a bad name. Beyond that, I think the Clintons in a lot of ways are exactly what we don’t want in government. Trump is an outsider, and I would hope that he would shake things up a little bit.”
When asked about Trump’s vulgar comments in the Access Hollywood video and allegations of sexual assaults, McConnell chose to focus on the comments from the video. “When I look at this war on women, I don’t see it, particularly around here. I mean we have a female governor, we have two female senators, I mean women run this place. The fact is that that’s an attitude, quite frankly, I wouldn’t tolerate under any circumstances,” McConnell said.
Trump and Hillary were not the only candidates with support, however. A few supporters of Gary Johnson appeared on the sidelines to inform people on the libertarian party.
KSC first-year Robert Bilodeau held a sign in Johnson’s favor behind the barricade at the event. “A lot of people are settling for Hillary because they don’t like Trump and I feel like that isn’t right,” Bilodeau said. “I feel most people are libertarian by heart and believe in personal freedom and fiscal responsibility, but I don’t think Hillary stands for those things.”
Even some volunteers now under the Clinton campaign had swayed toward third party candidates after the primary results were released. KSC senior Matthew Bergman was amongst the many volunteers for Clinton, but he was not dead-set on Hillary until recently.
“I was a very avid supporter of Bernie and then after the primaries. I switched over to Jill Stein,” Bergman said. “After I saw Jill Stein in a CNN town hall, I was like ‘nope’ Hillary needs to be president.” When deciding between Hillary and Trump, Bergman said there was no competition.
“She has the presence, the leadership and the experience necessary to run a country,” Bergman said. “There are plenty [of] things wrong with Clinton, but there are infinitely more things wrong with Trump and I would much rather see a Clinton presidency than being led by a demagogue.”
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org