Opinion: Students Should Know their Choices at the Polls

Ms. Julia Grant

With the election looming 11 months away, people are tuning in to process the candidates and score them on various topics they care about. 

CVU has a large number of students who will be eligible to vote in this upcoming election, and many of them are looking for a candidate they can stand behind.

 

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The options are becoming slimmer, as the past few weeks have brought the end of the campaign trail for many hopeful Democratic presidential candidates including Kamala Harris, Steve Bullock, and Beto O’Rourke. Among the many reasons for dropping out, these candidates have mostly blamed financial shortages or lack of support substantial enough to keep them in the race.

As the candidate pool narrows, it becomes more imperative that new voters remain informed on the remaining candidates as Election Day approaches rapidly. A better understanding of who’s running for candidacy and their stances on important issues is the best way we as young voters can make an informed decision and fight against political apathy. 

A poll conducted by the Washington Post surveyed young voters (ages 18-34) on the issues that are most important to them and the issues that will get them to the polls. The poll results showed that stances on social justice issues such as environmental issues, reproductive rights, and gun policy are most likely to persuade young voters to get out to the polls and vote for a certain candidate. 

This is a candidate breakdown on how the six highest polling candidates (in order of highest polling to lowest) Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, as well as Republican nominee Donald Trump, stand on these issues. 

Democratic candidates 

Joe Biden is the former Vice President under the Obama administration from 2008-2016 and has been a steady front-runner since announcing his candidacy. When it comes to environmental issues, Biden supports the implementation of a carbon tax as well as providing monetary incentives to farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Biden has claimed his long-term climate goal to have net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. Biden’s gun policy goals involve the implementation of a voluntary buyback program as well as universal background checks. When it comes to reproductive rights, Biden has historically swung back and forth on his views on abortions, but his most recent stance is that there should be some limits on abortion but not many. 

Elizabeth Warren comes from a teaching educational background but currently serves as a Massachusetts senator and has been since 2013. Warren proposes a ban on fracking and government-imposed regulations on carbon emissions as some of the goals of her environmental policy. On the issue of gun policy, the senator proposes a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks, and a ban on large-capacity magazines. When it comes to reproductive rights, Warren believes in few restrictions if any on abortions as well as federal funding for family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood. 

Bernie Sanders has served in the House of Representatives for 16 years and is now a Vermont senator and has been since 2013. Sanders has always capitalized on his environmental policy, which includes implementing a Green New Deal which includes the transfer of energy to 100% renewable, rejoining the Paris climate agreement, and reasserting the U.S as a leader for climate justice. On gun policy, the VT senator wants to expand background checks, prohibit high capacity ammunition magazines, as well as implement an assault weapon buyback program. His policy plans regarding reproductive rights include repealing the Hyde Amendment, fully funding Planned Parenthood and supporting women’s access to safe and legal abortions. 

Pete Buttigieg is a U.S. military veteran and has been the mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012. His stance on environmental issues calls for the implementation of a Green New Deal which would include carbon tax-and-dividend for Americans. Buttigieg also wants to invest in building a 100% clean energy society as a long-term goal. On the topic of gun policy, the mayor supports universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons as well as high capacity magazines. When it comes to reproductive rights, Buttigieg wants to Abolish the Hyde Amendment, as well as codify the right to abortion into law and prohibit state governments from interfering in private insurance coverage of abortions. 

Andrew Yang is an American entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist, and the founder of nonprofit Venture for America, which works to create jobs in struggling U.S cities. Yang’s environmental policy goals include achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, ending the influence of lobbyists and oil executives on environmental policy, and the implementation of a carbon fee and dividend. His gun policy stances involve the creation of a sensible gun licensing program, the creation of a clear definition of an “assault weapon” and preventing the manufacture and sale of that defined weapon. As far as reproductive rights go, Yang believes in protecting a women’s right to privacy- including access to safe and affordable abortions. Additionally, Yang calls for state placed restrictions to be reviewed by a board of doctors rather than politicians with no medical background.

Amy Klocbuchar is a lawyer and is currently serving on the U.S senate representing Minnesota, being initially elected in 2006, and re-elected twice since then. Klobuchar’s 

environmental policy ideas include rejoining the international climate agreement, bringing back and strengthening clean power rules and gas mileage standards put in place by the Obama administration, with the long-term goal of achieving 100% net-zero emissions by 2050. As far as gun policy, the Minnesota senator supports the implementation of universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks. She is also the author of the proposal to close “boyfriend loophole” to prevent domestic abusers from accessing guns. On the issue of reproductive rights, Klobuchar believes abortions should be safe and rare (due to better contraception) and that decisions regarding abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor. 

Republican candidate

Donald Trump is a former businessman and the sitting president of the United States, elected in 2016 and seeking reelection in 2020. Trump has had almost four years in office to make clear his opinions through policy decisions regarding his views on issues such as the environment, gun policy, and reproductive rights. On issues regarding the environment, Trump has been made it clear that climate is not a priority issue for his time in office. He has pulled the United States from the Paris climate accord and has sought to discard many environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration to reflect his stated position that climate change isn’t a pressing issue. On reproductive rights, Trump has asserted himself as a pro-life advocate, tweeting in May of 2019 that he is pro-life in all cases but a threat to the mother’s safety, rape, and incest. He has also threatened the funding of Planned Parenthood on the grounds that it supports more abortions. 

Informing young voters about the candidates and their stances on issues that matter to them will hopefully involve more young people in the decisions that will affect them more than anyone. Particularly, social justice issues such as the environment, reproductive rights, and gun policy need the opinions of young Americans in order to shape policy that aligns as closely as possible with the evolving views of the country as a whole. Encouraging our CVU community to be informed and engaged citizens are small steps we can take towards making a larger impact on the political climate of our country.

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