American students: Clinton’s edge over Trump is openness to diversity

Lena Gloria, Don Kevin Hapal

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American students: Clinton’s edge over Trump is openness to diversity
'I am voting for Hillary Clinton because she is smart, extremely intelligent, has an amazing demeanor, and will not cause World War 3,' says 25-year-old Mack Velle

NEW YORK, USA – Hillary Clinton has had a rocky relationship with American youth, which is surprising considering most millennial voters rallied behind Clinton’s fellow Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 elections.

During the presidential primaries, most young voters backed Bernie Sanders over Clinton. Even worse, during the campaign season last fall, national polls and surveys showed that the votes of those younger than 35 were slipping away and sliding towards third party presidential candidates – Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

But there was a glimmer of hope on October 24 for Clinton as survey results released by the Black Youth Project showed an increase of support from young voters. With this, Clinton is now projected to get the same youth vote share as Obama at 60% in 2012.

This is a significant leap from being pegged, by the same study, at below 40% of voters 18 to 30 years old last August.

Women and equality

With just a few days to go before the US elections, we asked some students from the Stella Adler Acting Studio in New York why they’re voting for the embattled Democratic candidate.

Anna Jackson from Washington, DC said the next American president should represent equality – something that the US “has been known for.”

“I support gay marriage, women’s right to choose, equality in the workplace. I don’t think that someone who treats women with disrespect should be allowed to rule the country,” she said.

“I think it needs to be someone who is open to the diversity that is America, and equality which represents – or at least used to represent – this country.”

For Taryn Pfeifer, meanwhile, her support for Clinton comes with wanting a woman at the helm of the nation.

“If their actual service is to be a figurehead then I’d rather it be a woman so we can show the future that yes, woman can run this shit. And from then on we see what she does, but her being there being what she is – I’m good with that.”

‘Anyone but Trump’

Meanwhile, some are motivated mostly by the fear of having Clinton’s controversial opponent, Donald Trump, as president.

28-year-old student Ashley Croft said she is voting for Clinton because she could never vote for someone like Trump.

“I’m kind of ashamed of us as a country that that guy has made it as far as he can because he’s not even an adult. He’s like a 3-year-old who’s grudged because his mom dressed him into a pumpkin costume. I could never, with good conscience, vote for that guy – because first of all, I am a woman. And I have friends who are women, minorities, not straight – I have a responsibility for the people I love not to vote for that guy,” she explained.

Melanie Liebetrau shares the same sentiment.

“I am going to be voting for Hillary Clinton because I am not voting people like Donald Trump. Mostly just because he’s a terrible person who’s done a lot of bad things to a lot of people,” said the 23-year-old student from Wisconsin.

Mack Velle, a 25-year-old student from New York who initially supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, also spoke out against Trump.

“I am voting for Hillary Clinton because she is smart, extremely intelligent, has an amazing demeanor, and will not cause World War 3,” said Velle.

“There’s such a stark difference between her and Donald, because the other person is not mentally fit to be president. I was rooting for Bernie Sanders… but there’s just no option now – it’s anybody for me, almost anybody but Trump.”

‘Most qualified’

Justine Magowan and Matt Maguire, from Vermont and Arkansas respectively, both said Clinton is the most qualified candidate to have ever run for the presidency.

“Hillary is the most qualified candidate we’ve ever had – she’s lived in the White House as the First Lady, and then Secretary of State, and I trust her,” said the 23-year-old Magowan who has already voted for Clinton through absentee ballot. 

“She is the only candidate that I know who will not actively try to control the choices I made for my body. That’s my biggest stake when it comes to president – if you don’t support planned parenthood, if you don’t support women’s right to choose, then you don’t have my vote,” she added.

“I feel that despite everything that’s coming through social media, we’ve never had a candidate more prepared for the job in the history of the United States of America than she is,” said Maguire, 27, who added that the presidency “requires somebody who has experience, is tough, and can handle criticism.”

“We need a leader who is a leader – and she is a leader. She’s done it time and time again, ever since her husband [was] a president, all the way up to becoming Senator from New York, Secretary of State.” –

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.