Election Year at ACAD
Every four years, the presidential election fuels anxiety in homes across the United States. Tensions rise, and signs and bumper stickers fill neighborhoods. This year has been particularly intense. Disagreements surrounding policies on coronavirus, police reform, abortion access, immigration, the environment, and taxes have been at the forefront of the news. People seem to be more polarized, and finding common ground is difficult. To capture a snapshot of student opinion, The Spartan Review interviewed two eleventh graders who self-identify as liberal and two eleventh graders who self-identify as conservative, all of whom requested to remain anonymous.
All four of the interviewed students mentioned immigration as a topic of concern and major motivation in choosing a candidate.
Source #1, a self-identified conservative, said, “I personally agree with how President Trump has dealt with immigration issues. … This issue became apparent to me when one of our family friends who was an immigrant explained how it was a frustrating topic for him because it took him several years to immigrate with lots of studying and papers to become a citizen, while others would come over in as little as a year illegally.”
Source #2, a self-identified liberal, also considers immigration a key issue but disagrees that Republican policies provide safety for those seeking to immigrate. “Trump’s immigration plans have cut legal immigration nearly by half,” Source #2 said. “The immigration process can take years for those wanting a path to the United States, and for someone living in an overpopulated country like India, they may have a waiting time of five decades, due to the disproportionate limits on employment-based green cards by country. Biden plans to undo some of Trump’s excessive restrictions on immigration.”
Both conservative students mentioned abortion as a primary factor determining their political ideology.
"I believe that each and every human should get the chance to live. Biden's campaign website says that he would ‘protect the constitutional right to abortion,’ which I find morally wrong,” Source #3 said.
Source #1 echoed this statement, expressing, “Due to religious reasons I do not agree with abortion. However, I also believe that God gave us free will, and I have no right to tell someone what they can and cannot do. The issue for me with aboritions is that it is affecting minorities, and in particular African Americans, more than it is affecting any other race in America.”
(above) Portrait of Donald Trump (2017) from The White House. Public Domain.
Different from the right-leaning students, the left-leaning students found climate change and environmental policy a driving factor for their political orientation.
Source #2 expressed, “Trump is infamously a climate change skeptic, and plans to roll back environmental protections and is in the process of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. … What he doesn’t realize is that decreasing climate protections now will cause a greater economic burden in the future. ”
Souce #4 agreed, saying, “I think that it is very important for us to rejoin the global climate accord because it is important both for helping the future and America's international reputation.”
Portrait of Joe Biden (2013) from the White House. Public Domain.
While the student Democrats advocated for increased taxes to fund public health care, Republican students expressed approval of tax cuts.
Source #3 supports President Trump’s tax cuts, believing they help the economy as a whole. Moreover, Source #3 argued that tax cuts particularly help small and local businesses. “I think it is incredibly important to help small businesses and keep our economy going strong to provide jobs and high quality for each and every person,” Source #3 said.
Source #4, on the other hand, argued that healthcare should be universal, even if taxes must be raised. “I agree with Biden’s plans for healthcare, which include giving all Americans an option to join public health insurance and lowering the Medicare qualification age from 65 to 60. I think that this is important because I personally believe that healthcare is a human right. … Biden's plan is not universal healthcare, but I think it is an important advancement in the system,” they said.
In a state that is currently split half-and-half between liberals and conservatives, all votes matter, and education on politics is extremely important. Hearing other voices is important for examining and modifying our own values, in a cycle of growth and community support. At Athens Academy, our teachers and administrators work hard to create a community where all voices are heard and respected.