With Hillary Clinton as the first female major-party nominee, the 2016 presidential election is one of unprecedented change in American politics. However, her rise to candidacy has been marked by backlash from many Americans. Some argue that the resentment towards Clinton is unwarranted and dismiss it as the propagation of sexism in mainstream politics. Others assert that Clinton is unqualified for the position and deem her untrustworthy. This begs the question: Does the gender of the candidate play a role in how people shape their political views?
Sophomore Prabhat Jandhyala believes the gender of the candidate can play a role in politics, saying there are still many in America who are not willing to accept a woman as Commander-in-Chief. As a result, many aren’t as accepting of Clinton, regardless of her policies or views.
“I’m sure there are people who believe that because Hillary Clinton is a woman she’s not ready to be president or she’s really messed up,” Prabhat said.
In junior Natalie Standridge’s opinion, the gender of the candidate does not play much of a role in how much support he or she garners.
“I don’t think it really matters if the person is a female or a male,” Standridge said, “as long as what they’re saying is right.”
While Standridge believes that there should be a female president, she doesn’t think people should vote for a certain candidate because she is female. She thinks voters should support a candidate because their beliefs align with the candidate, not based on his or her gender. Standridge feels more inclined to support Clinton because of her activism regarding women’s rights, especially when compared with Trump’s recent remarks on women.
“Just knowing that someone who could be running our country has talked about locker room talk, did that,” Standridge said, “and used locker room talk as an excuse—it doesn’t really make sense.”
And while Trump maintains that “nobody respects women more than I do,” Standridge believes it’s just a ploy to garner more female voters. She thinks that when all is said and done, Hillary Clinton will have the upper hand among women voters.
Race has played a central role in the 2016 election because of Donald Trump’s disparaging tone towards Mexican and Muslim immigrants.
Junior Emily Zhang doesn’t believe being the child of Chinese immigrants has affected her political viewpoints in any way. Though she does not feel personally attacked by Trump’s comments, Zhang understands that she is an exception.
“I mean, if I [were] Mexican I would care,” Zhang said.
She calls him an outsider too, saying that Trump’s very own roots trace back to working-class immigrants and that Trump is only insulting himself with his comments. She thinks that race is inevitably a contributing factor to the political races.
“If there’s like a [candidate] that makes policies that help one particular group of people, then they’re more likely to vote for them,” Zhang said.
Just as racism is an inescapable part of society, it’s also an inescapable part of the presidential election.
Whether our support lies with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is dependent on not only their stances on controversial issues, but also on how closely our values align with theirs. Our religious backgrounds and beliefs may play as big of a part in our candidate selections as our views on abortion, criminal justice or gun laws. They can be influenced by the candidates’ viewpoints on controversial topics or swayed by something said during a debate. A person’s religious background isn’t confined inside the walls of churches and temples- its influence is seen at voting ballots as well. As a Muslim, senior Nadaa Moharram believes that her religion dictates much of how she lives and interacts with other people.
“It’s always hard to find yourself, especially in the United States where everyone is so diverse, but when you have a belief and a religion, it helps guide you through it,” Moharram said. “You’re standing with a group of people… you have a stronger opinion because you’re together.”
With Clinton under investigation for her email scandal and Trump facing criticism for his “locker room talk” and racist comments towards certain minority groups, many voters are hesitant about who should be president.
“You have different morals and values and a set basis of standards of what you want to get from your nation… and each of [the two major] political parties have different goals and basis of their methods,” junior Shaurya Srivastava said. “Based on how similar your religion and morals and values match with their basis of the political parties, you’re more likely to choose one of those political parties.”
Picking which candidate to vote for involves looking at their stances on many issues, but to some, their viewpoints on religion seems to be a key factor.
“[Trump] could be good for our economy, but other than that he’s destroying us as a diverse community,” said Moharram said.
With his past comments denouncing Muslims and other minority groups, it is not surprising that many individuals who practice a certain religion push away from the Republicans, although they may not agree on their stances on other controversial issues.
“Every time he speaks against the Islamic people,” said junior Shaurya Srivastava said, “I believe that those votes that could have gone for Donald Trump are going to Hillary Clinton.”
Sophomore Gurnarain Mann, who is Sikh, said that though he usually ‘goes with the flow’ and doesn’t get overwhelmed easily because his religion has taught him to be laid-back. If a candidate went against his religious beliefs, he would not vote for them.
“I [would] think they’re trying to oppress me,” Mann said. “They don’t want my ideas to be out there, my religion ideas.”
Being criticized for one’s religious beliefs means not being able to express oneself, not being able to live freely in a country that proclaims itself ‘the land of the free’.
“My beliefs are to be accepting and welcoming of everyone, Trump clearly does not convey that, and as a result of that I don’t think I would support him,” said senior Flora Dong, who is a Christian.
The purpose of religion is to unify people, to bring together a group of people who share many of the same moral values. When the candidates do not support a voter’s religion, it is a vote lost. Our religious backgrounds and beliefs play as big of a part in our candidate selections as our views on abortion, criminal justice or gun laws.
“I believe about what my religion says is how I should live and how I should interact with other people. Someone who is against that, that just creates a community that’s bitter and a community I don’t want to be a part of.”