As political figures begin to announce their candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, college students are starting to decide which policies mean the most to them and who they’re going to root for. I asked 10 different college students from several different universities which 2020 presidential candidate they planned to vote for and which policies helped them make their selection. Here’s what I found:
1. Rainn Jackson
Rainn Jackson is a Junior Photo/Media Art Major at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. For the 2020 election, they plan on supporting Bernie Sanders, the same candidate they supported during the 2016 primaries. Rainn plans on supporting Senator Sanders mainly because “he supports college for all and medicare for all which will actually save us money in the long run and because it just makes sense not to force people into debt.” Rainn also believes Sanders brings more to the table than the other Democratic candidates in the way of morality, stating that “Bernie has been an activist basically his whole life and other candidates do not seem to support the working class in the same way” although they admit that “he’s not perfect but he’s much more progressive than anyone else running for the Democrats.”
2. Hannah McLaren
Hannah is currently a Sophomore Biology Major at Chattanooga State Community College who is putting her support behind Kamala Harris mainly because “she makes a good foil for Trump. She’s a young woman of color and idyllic enough to give hope to voters that have been discouraged over the past few years.” Supplementing the juxtaposition, Hannah adds, “I agree with her policies like Medicare for all, social justice reforms, and financial reforms that help the middle class.”
3. Samantha Barber
Samantha is a Sophomore English Major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Samantha has her eye on Bernie Sanders in particular because “he has a very bold progressive policy agenda that [she] believe[s] is a better response to social and economic issues in our country than any other candidate”. When asked which policies of Senator Sanders’ she was most attracted to, she responded, “specifically, I like his strong support for environmental policies to combat climate change and his agenda for making higher education more accessible”.
4. Nicholas Morton
Nicholas Morton is a Sophomore Political Science Major with a concentration in International and Comparative Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Nicholas feels that at this point, it's still too early for him to completely commit to one candidate, but “if I had to pick one now, I would say Bernie Sanders”. When asked about his reasons behind his support for Senator Sanders, Nicholas stated “I agree with his stances on reforming the criminal justice system, free education, free universal healthcare, higher taxes on corporations, legalized marijuana, more gun control, and [his] stance to help make DREAMers fully legal. I think he’d also have the best shot at beating Trump, which isn’t my main reason for supporting him, but I do take that into account”
5. Joshua Solloman
Joshua is currently a Senior History Major at Oglethorpe University who has also decided to put his support behind Bernie Sanders. “Generally I try to stay as neutral as possible,” he says, “but I have leftist inclinations. I really like the idea of a president who is not only for the people and their wellbeing, but for the lower strata of society as well because more often than not these people are left out in larger political decisions.”
6. Caleb Dean
Caleb is a Sophomore Theatre Arts Major at Drew University who is rooting for Cory Booker “because of how well he’s treated New Jersey and how bipartisan he’s willing to be.” Booker won Caleb’s respect particularly because of “his ability not to present himself as a Democrat or a Republican but more as a politician.” More important to him than any of his specific policies, Booker’s bipartisanship was what really won Caleb over. “I’ve always thought partisanship to be detrimental to policy. Party loyalties and grudges have always impeded progress.”
7. Tyler Comeau
Tyler is a Junior Communications Major at Franklin Pierce University who is backing Bernie Sanders for the 2020 election. Tyler feels that Senator Sanders is “the only candidate willing to address issues of corporate money and influence in politics”. Although the Democratic candidates for this election seem to all share similar ideals, Tyler is still drawn to Senator Sanders, stating that “Bernie Sanders [in particular] has the right temperament, voting tract record, and willingness to address issues of social justice to be our president.”
8. Kaylen Garrett
Kaylen is a Sophomore Film Directing Major at Watkins College of Art Design and Film and is going to cast her vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential election. Kaylen says that she has several reasons for choosing Senator Sanders over the rest of the Democratic candidates but that her top reasons include “his support of a woman’s choice to be pro life or pro abortion, he wants to control gun violence, and he has been going to walk-outs and sit-ins for ages and someone willing to do that is important to me.” Much like the other college students interviewed, morality seems to be what attracts Kaylen to Senator Sanders the most.
9. Sam Davis
Sam is currently a Freshman Sustainable Agriculture Major at Warren Wilson College who is rallying for Julian Castro. “I saw that he’s a huge supporter of LGBT rights,” says Sam, “and I saw a news article about how he supports reparations for black people which I think could be really helpful to a lot of people.” Sam seems particularly excited about Castro’s social stances, stating, “I think I read somewhere that he believes transgender Americans should be allowed to serve in the military and that gay marriage should be protected under law, which are things I think definitely need to be addressed in our current [political] climate.”
10. Don Black
Don is a Senior Analytics Major at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and is planning on casting his vote for Elizabeth Warren. Particularly appealing to him are her views on “childcare, breaking up the tech giants, her wealth tax, and her affordable housing plan”. Don says that “she has a focus on retail politics that [he hasn’t] seen in others”. Don believes that Warren is “probably the most realistic about accomplishing change, she wants to focus first on corruption and is willing to eliminate the filibuster”.
From what I gathered talking to students attending colleges across the country, there seems to be a preference for Democrats, and Bernie Sanders is certainly a popular choice. Being a strong advocate for free college has attracted thousands of students to Senator Sanders’ platforms, but most students seem to be seeking out the candidate that displays the most compassion. Bernie Sanders appears to embody a solution to the values represented by the current administration and is already well-established in the hearts of high school and college students, but with the 2020 presidential election still more than a year away, it's too early to predict whether popularity with students will carry Bernie Sanders to the white house.
Forrest Palmer is a Transgender Man dedicated to using his writing platform to advocate for minorities within the LGBTQ+ community. He has been writing short stories since the fourth grade, attended an audition-only fine arts high school for creative writing, and is continuing his journey as a writer as an English major in college.