Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are currently battling for the Democratic presidential nomination. As of this March, 64% of polled M-A students identify as Democrats. Clinton and Sanders have each accumulated dedicated support, dividing many M-A Democrats.
We asked M-A students to take an anonymous poll on whether they believe Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is a better presidential candidate. Out of 95 students, 36.1% of the polled students voted Clinton and 49.4% voted Sanders.
Many wholeheartedly support Clinton, despite what many view as her faults. Elder voters especially consider Clinton a better presidential candidate because of her experience and political knowledge. One M-A student said,“I think Hillary has more experience. Despite her faults, this experience will be more beneficial to her overall performance.” Clinton gained the trust of the older generation during her time as First Lady to President Bill Clinton from 1993-2001 and Secretary of State to President Barack Obama from 2009-2013. Another M-A student commented, “I think Hillary has a good amount of experience in government and she did a good job as Secretary of State.”
Many also admire H. Clinton for her work with children and families; she was co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. For some, her upbringing and political experience make her a prime candidate. Even though H. Clinton has done much good, many also point to her mistakes. To some, H. Clinton didn’t just sell the press and the public on her inevitability as the general election candidate; she sold herself the same bill of goods. Hubris may prove to be the campaign’s fatal flaw because of the way Clinton has so far presented herself. In addition, H. Clinton’s Iraq War Vote in 2002 authorizing military intervention in Iraq has haunted her reputation, and opened up a space for an anti-war candidate in this year’s primary.
Some would say Sanders has less executive experience than H. Clinton does, but others point out that he has served more years in elected office. In addition to being the current Vermont senator, Sanders was a representative in 2006, as well as mayor of City of Burlington, VT from 1981-89. In total, Sanders has served as an elected official for 34 years, which is 19 more than the average 2016 presidential candidate.
Many youth are more drawn to Sanders’s liberal thinking and honesty, than they are to H. Clinton’s cold indifference. One student stated, “I think that Bernie Sanders has a better understanding of and is more willing to listen to the issues faced by the American people like racism, economic inequality, etc. I also think he would be more likely to win in the general election because it’s clear that the majority of American voters want someone anti-establishment, as exemplified by the success of Trump, and Sanders is much more radical than Clinton.”
However, another student shared, “My biggest issues are war and domestic surveillance, and I think Sanders doesn’t want to go to war as much as Clinton. Even though Sanders is highly respected for his liberal beliefs he is also unqualified to become president. Clinton would best represent the interests of all middle-class Americans by making healthcare more affordable and helping women earn equal pay.”
Another replied, “I love Bernie for his undaunted idealism, but he is nevertheless a candidate who is unlikely to succeed in office. Although Hillary’s brand of politics inspires very little energy or excitement about the future, she has the experience and the moderate plans necessary to succeed as president.”
Some believe neither Sanders nor H. Clinton are worthy to be the Democratic candidate. One student shared, “I believe both candidates are highly flawed and neither come close to being prepared for a presidential status. I find it unfortunate a socialist is running for president in America in this day and age, considering our history, that would be an enormous setback. As for Clinton, [who is] responsible for many scandals, some resulting in death (Benghazi) she would not be a good choice. I believe she is the worst possible option, no matter how much I would love to have a female president in office.”
As the presidential campaigns accelerate, M-A students continue to examine and argue the different positions of the Democratic candidates.