“Let’s make America great again!” is the mantra shouted by businessman Donald Trump and his supporters.
For the entirety of this election season, it seems the Republican Party has been trying to distance itself from Trump. However, this has been fading during the past few weeks with the endorsement made by longtime Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.
While the party establishment has been warming up to Trump, it seems as though millennials have not.
“In a hypothetical Clinton v. Trump contest in November, voters under 35 would choose Clinton by a crushing 52-19 percent,” according to USA Today.
This isn’t surprising given a number of Trump’s positions, rhetoric and past statements. He has made various disparaging comments about women, Mexicans, Muslims and others, which is clearly not something many millennials want in a presidential candidate.
The Republican Party was founded in the abolishment of slavery, among other issues, but it evolved into the party of state’s rights and less government regulation. Many millennials hold these issues as less important compared to things like LGBTQ rights, legalization of marijuana, income inequality and nationalized healthcare.
The candidate who talks most about these issues is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders is incredibly popular among millennials, as well as students at Plattsburgh State. My roommates definitely “feel the Bern,” even though I probably feel whatever the opposite of that is.
Regardless of what my roommates and other PSUC students say, do the numbers back it up?
“A new survey of 18- to 34-year-olds found that if the Democratic primary were held today, 46 percent of millennials would vote for Sanders,” according to a January survey conducted by Time magazine.
That’s purely on the Democratic side. What about the Republicans?
Trump wins the support of 26 percent of millennial Republicans, according to the same survey. This doesn’t mean much, however, because most millennials tend to favor the ideas and plans pushed by progressives like Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Another interesting find: “Nearly one in four Republicans would defect to the Democrats if the GOP nominated Trump against Clinton,” according to a USA Today survey.
This means across demographics such as age, religion, and race many Republicans are not comfortable with Trump as their nominee. Many students I’ve had conversations with use words like “loudmouth,” “brash,” “racist” and “egomaniac” to describe him.
Are they right?
I used to think so. I used to think Trump was a know-nothing, do-nothing, narcissist. Is he?
Perhaps, but so are most celebrities our generation idolizes. I actually started to listen to what he was saying and read his plans on his website. As a Republican, his healthcare plan is pretty good. It promotes the free market and repeals Obamacare in its entirety — both key parts of any plan I would support.
Does this mean I am ready to endorse him? No, I have already voted for Ted Cruz. Would I vote for him over Clinton? Maybe, and I’m not alone. His “Students for Trump” Facebook page has over 2,000 likes, which is more than Clinton’s corresponding Facebook page has.
Trump is not the perfect presidential candidate. Millennials are running scared from him and the Republican Party because they think of him as a racist and sexist bigot. While those claims might not be true, there is a reason people think them. Millennials want someone like Sanders who is inclusive, open and will give them things like free college, while also addressing issues like income inequality.
As a Republican, I see the appeal but not the practicality with plans Sanders has proposed. With Trump, I understand the appeal, and I see the practically. Neither Trump nor Sanders is perfect — far from it — but regardless of your opinion, both men are changing politics and are giving us all something to talk about.
Email Joseph Bochichio at firstname.lastname@example.org