SHS students weigh in on 2016 presidential election

Editor's note: In the original post of this article, the Herald included that the Electoral College would place their final votes on Dec. 13 but in reality they vote on Dec. 19.

It came as no surprise to many that President-elect Donald Trump won big in Shelton, but some students in James Allan’s AP Government class at Shelton High School were surprised to see him win the nomination on a national level.

SHS senior Jaylan Leon said he was disappointed when he first heard of Trump’s victory.

“He’s said a lot of negative things and I just didn’t expect such a large percentage of the population to support him,” said Leon. “I wasn’t surprised that he won in Shelton, but I was shocked to see that he won the election.”

Allan said his class had been closely following the election process and has taken time to discuss both Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. The class had mixed feelings about both President-elect Trump and candidate Clinton. They expressed their opinions on both campaigns, as well as their concerns for what Trump’s presidency could mean for the United States.

SHS senior Tyler Werner said he wasn’t particularly fond of either candidate, but felt the media harshly attacked Clinton and her campaign with legal allegations of which she was never convicted.

“You can dig up dirt on anyone if you’ve been looking as hard as they have for years,” said Werner.

He added that while watching the presidential debates, he felt as though Trump didn’t explain any of his plans for the country. Many students in the class said they felt both candidates spent more time attacking one another than focusing on the country’s issues.

Although Werner doesn’t support many of Trump’s views or the strategies used in his campaign, he said he was proud to see a trend broken through this election.

“A part of me was kind of happy to see that they kind of did break tradition in that a candidate like Donald Trump with no political experience can be a politician, which is also bad at the same time but shows that an established politician can be defeated,” said Werner. “They talked about the money gap and how she also spent a lot more on her campaign and which also shows you don’t need money to run a successful campaign.”

While some students were happy to hear of Trump’s victory, others empathize with the people who have come forward to say they’re fearful for what his time in office could mean for their social communities.

SHS senior Saumya Shah said she supports people’s right to protest.

“I have a friend that goes to UConn who said the protests are not meant to attempt to change the Electoral College’s decision to select Trump as president but instead show solidarity among the groups he was more aggressive towards during his campaign, such as gay people or women,” said Shah.

Leon said he’s witnessed people scared within the black community.

“I’m not saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist,” said Leon. “But the people who did support him chose to do so even after his comments revealed racism in other people, and that wasn’t enough to sway them to vote in a different direction.”

Leon added that he thinks people are not protesting the turnout of the election but rather some of the messages Trump expressed throughout his campaign.

“The point of the protest wasn’t to say that slavery was going to be established, but that the hate and racist feelings are still relevant. I don’t think it was meant to be interpreted as an exaggeration, but was designed to catch people’s attention. Nobody would be talking about it if he just put up a sign that said, ‘Racism is still alive,’” said Leon.

Others in the class didn’t agree with the people protesting or their fears.

Jack Piscitelli responded to some people’s fear of Trump being elected by saying all presidential candidates when elected will have people who are fearful of what they will do once in office because of their own opposing views.

Werner said he’s witnessed and is confused by people who want to see Trump “fail” in his time in office.

“It’s kind of like wanting a pilot to crash a plane, while you’re still on the plane,” said Werner. “The people who are protesting, it just seems stupid how they said Donald Trump wouldn’t give up peacefully but now they’re protesting in the streets like it’s going to happen or there’s something they can do about it.”

SHS senior Alyssa Santos said she thinks no matter which candidate a person voted for or supported, the decision for Trump to be president is done. Santos added that she believes the important thing to do at this time, and throughout Trump’s term, is to push for change in the local communities by holding local politicians accountable to change any policies people disagree with.

Multiple students in the class said the 2016 presidential election showed that the United States was tired of the “typical politician.” Others felt as though the fact that Trump won the election by the votes of the Electoral College rather than earning the popular vote could ultimately affect people’s opinion on the value of their vote as well as future voter turnout.

While several students said the turnout of this year’s election could decrease the number of voters in future elections, others in the class said those who don’t vote shouldn’t complain about whoever earns the presidency.

SHS senior Alan Benson said he feels the Electoral College didn’t do what it was designed to do.

“I think the Electoral College did the opposite of what they’re supposed to do in this election, because they’re supposed to check the uninformed masses of voting for an unfit candidate, but in this case they voted against a seasoned politician,” said Benson. “Unfortunately in this case, at least in my opinion, they didn’t do what they were supposed to do.”

Other students agreed with Benson.

“Although I didn’t support either candidate, we created the Electoral College to balance things out. I think it’s unfortunate that in some cases they overrule the people’s vote. I think it can be helpful and can protect us, but it’s also bad because it blocks out the majority’s voice,” said Werner.

Allan reminded the students that the electoral votes aren’t finalized until Dec. 19, 2016.

Difference in political views among Shelton families

Shelton is a primarily Republican city, and students in the class shared their experiences of having political views that are different from those of their parents or other relatives.

SHS senior Brandon Van Akin said he and his father are Republicans, while his mother is a Democrat. He explained that their opposing political views can often lead to disagreements, and his mother was upset when Trump was announced as the president-elect.

Other students said they had been conditioned to “choose their battles” when discussing politics or views on social issues such as gay and transgender rights with people from older generations.

“I feel like that’s where most of the political differences are, and with things like that I have to just kind of bite my tongue, because you know you’re not going to get through to certain people,” said Leon. “For certain issues you can just see the generation gap, and how things they’re not used to, we accept, and things they believe in, we don’t, and vice versa.”

Leon said in his family, he’s interacted with younger relatives who have opposing views when it comes to gay rights, but he feels that they are easier to approach and have conversations with about his personal views.

The class closed the discussion by saying they’re waiting to see what Trump’s time in office will hold for the country and for families who are composed of members with various political views.