What exactly is going on with the 2016 presidential campaign? This race is shaping up to be one of the most bizarre and unpredictable contests in memory. Where is it all heading? We can only guess at this point.
Two candidates are the center of this unpredictability: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. A year ago, few imagined either would win more than a primary state or two. Hillary Clinton was supposed to coast her way to victory for the Democrats. The likely Republican nominee? Jeb Bush – brother and son of two former presidents. Jeb came out strong, raising more money than his rivals, and was favored by Republican Party leadership.
However, that’s not what’s happened. Donald Trump, now the undisputed Republican frontrunner, humiliated Gov. Bush by mocking his “low energy” and criticizing George W.’s Iraq War as a disaster. Bush was also attacked by candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and finally dropped out after losing badly in the South Carolina primary. In the meantime, perplexingly, Trump’s popularity only continues to rise as he spews more insults and outrageous statements.
The Democratic race has been very interesting too. No one foresaw the phenomenon of “Feel the Bern.” Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, won the key New Hampshire primary and gained momentum from there. Describing himself as a “Democratic socialist,” Sanders has inspired and mobilized young voters. Supporters are drawn to his campaign promises to fight Wall Street, make public college education free, and provide Medicare for all.
So as the newest, youngest generation of voters, to whom should we turn? While I think all three leading candidates – even the obnoxious Trump – have their positive points, it didn’t take long for me to decide on Hillary Clinton. In fact, after learning more about her career and experience, I signed up to volunteer for her campaign.
Look at Trump. As someone from highly multicultural New York City, I can’t get behind his attacks on Mexican immigrants, China, and Muslims. He has proposed background checks for all Muslims in the U.S. and a ban on Muslim immigration. I’ve attended seminars on the law and the Constitution, and I know these proposals are against the ideals on which America was founded.
My family immigrated to America from Cuba over 20 years ago, and it wasn’t easy for them to reach these shores. But, once given the opportunity, my parents worked hard, started a business that continues to create jobs, and raised a family. While my family members have voted Republican in the past, Trump is just too extreme for their taste.
As for me, I’ve worked for my father’s company since seventh grade. I’ve spent time in every department, from accounting to shipping, and I’ve gained great respect for my coworkers, many of whom left their home country in search of a better life. I also attend a school with students from all over the world – Europe, Latin America, China, and yes, some are even Muslim. When I mention Trump, they seem both worried and offended by his words. Is this the sort of person we’d like to see leading the United States of America?
On the opposite side, I admire Bernie Sanders and the campaign he has run. He’s calling attention to a huge problem: the influence of Wall Street money on the political process. Not only that, he strongly believes in reforming the financial system to prevent another great recession like the one in 2008. Senator Sanders has also fought for civil rights and equality since the early 1960s, during the days of Martin Luther King Jr.
However, in spite of the great idealism Sanders brings to the table, I am convinced that Hillary Clinton should be our next president. Simply put, she is the most qualified, most experienced, and most effective candidate for the job. As Secretary of State, she helped restore America’s respect and credibility around the world – the opposite of what Trump would do. As First Lady, she put forth a comprehensive plan for health-care reform. She’s been fighting for equality and justice since her days at Yale Law, alongside her future husband, Bill Clinton.
I won’t list all of Clinton’s many accomplishments, but one of the biggest reasons I support her is personal. I know firsthand that she genuinely fights for the people she represents. As a senator from New York, she worked hard to help us recover from the 9/11 attacks. She took the time to meet with small businesses that had been affected, and secured funds to help them. Her concern for small businesses meant a lot to my family, as my father had started his own when he was just 19. I believe as president Clinton would fight hard – and actually win – on behalf of the American people.
Senator Sanders might not be as effective, and his seeming unwillingness to compromise his ideals may work against him. His call for a “political revolution” may deter potential supporters in the November election because most of us aren’t really looking for a revolution; we’re looking for a leader who can accomplish things within the system, not overthrow it. That person in 2016 is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.