by Barrett Fife, a Junior at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School
The presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders did not have much in common. However, they both captured the hearts and minds of the same demographic, one that rallied around the two candidates with a passion rarely seen from this group of voters. Obama and Sanders’s secret weapon is something that Hillary Clinton desperately wants (and needs) to get her hands on: The Millennial Vote.
While this demographic, which carried Bernie Sanders much farther than most expected, tends to go Democratic, it still isn’t free from the misinformation that has plagued this election season. Voters under 30, 73% of whom voted for Sanders, now begrudgingly have to decide between the only two consequential players left on the field. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have all the information necessary to properly make this potentially life changing decision.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t agree on much. However, they have a wide spectrum of beliefs, and some of their opinions clash more than others (i.e. their agreement on the Iraq war being a mistake versus their disagreement on abortion). The issue where they probably could not disagree more is the topic of global warming. And yet, 30% of Millennials see no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the subject of climate change. 28% also cannot distinguish between Clinton and Trump’s views on college affordability, an issue the former has talked about extensively and to which the latter has devoted only a few incoherent words.
Let’s break it down, starting with climate change. 75% of Millennials believe that global warming is an empirical fact, and 55% believe that it’s caused mainly by emissions from cars and industrial facilities. Donald Trump has frequently and firmly stated during his candidacy that he believes global warming to be a “hoax.” He has promised to end “totalitarian” taxes he believes are levied by the EPA, as well as ending the Paris Agreement, a global combative effort against climate change from the United Nations, currently supported by 190 countries. Without quoting any real scientific information or having any ascertainable understanding of the American energy industry, Trump vows to save the coal industry (an institution that is, by its very definition, on its way out) and stop wasting time on “phony” issues, like the “same old climate change bullshit”.
Hillary Clinton’s beliefs could not be further from the contradictory, baseless statements of her opponent. Clinton has a detailed clean energy plan, and she wants to outdo the rate and amount of renewable energy achievements that even Obama planned on making in the next five, ten, and thirty years. Clinton’s proposal includes producing a third of the nation’s energy from renewable sources by the year 2027, creating half a billion solar panels by 2020, and dedicating $60 billion to helping cities and states develop more climate-friendly infrastructure. Clinton believes that climate change is a serious global issue that needs to be strongly addressed, and she plans on putting the United States on track to reduce greenhouse emissions 80% (from the 2005 levels) by 2050.
There are pages upon pages of information showing how drastically Clinton and Trump disagree on the idea of climate change. However, if you look at the second issue, you will see that there is very little evidence indicating how much they contradict on dealing with college affordability, and that is precisely the issue. Trump has used small words, big hand gestures, and angry yelling to fake his way through most of the issues of this election. On the topic of college, however, he hasn’t even bothered to adequately comment on making it more affordable beyond saying he will “start some governmental program” to combat student loan debt.
Seriously, that’s it. And even that minuscule nod to the subject doesn’t acknowledge the pricing of college itself; it only addresses what happens after you’ve racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Since Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, Clinton picked up one of her rival’s most popular promises: free public college for anyone whose family makes less than $125,000 a year.
So here’s my message to millennials: I get that Bernie Sanders was an inspiring presidential candidate. He moved you at times in a way that was reminiscent of Barack Obama. Sanders ran a great race and fought valiantly, but after a long battle, Clinton rose the victor, having won millions more votes than Sanders. But Bernie’s movement challenged his opponent to reach a new level of progressiveness. They ended on positive terms, Sanders endorsed Clinton, and now it’s time to move on. We are down to the two finalists. One of them is Donald Trump, whom I don’t need to say anything more about. The other is a woman who is overwhelmingly qualified for the position, unbelievably passionate about this country, and laser-focused on helping you for the next four years of presidency and beyond. She has spent decades of her life in the public eye, so long, in fact, that sometimes when she appears on the news behind a facade of “scandal” and lies, she doesn’t even register as human as much as a political machine. But please, the Google search bar is right at your fingertips. Look up her stance on the issues that you care about. See how many worlds away she is from her opponent.
Please don’t go into this election voting with the same level of ignorance as other side. We’re fewer than fifty days away from the 2016 election, and it’s almost time for you to make not just a choice, but a difference. In Virginia, you really could be the person that makes history by casting the vote to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States.