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Students Divided on Presidential Campaign’s Top Issues

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Less than a week separates voters and the general election, and voters are still divided on the issues and the presidential candidates.

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, stand opposed on a number of key issues concerning voters.

The fate of the Supreme Court nomination ranks as the most concerning issue for readers, according to an online poll conducted by The Arkansas Traveler, followed by race relations as the second most important issue and college debt close behind as third.

Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by President Barack Obama for a seat as justice in the Supreme Court, has had his nomination stalled by Congressional Republicans for over seven months, after he was nominated in mid-March earlier this year.

While this is not the longest a seat has remained vacant, the average vacancy time since 1970 has been 55 days, which is 178 days less than the 233 days Garland has been waiting, according to research by the Pew Research Center.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has repeatedly confirmed that his presidency would drop the Garland nomination and replace it with one from a shortlist of candidates he has spoken about, while Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, has not confirmed or denied if she would uphold the nomination in her presidency.

Sophomore Taylor McDougall said both candidates may try to politicize the court.

“I believe the next decade will see several major decisions,” McDougall said. “I believe the most critical factor in nominating justices is that they are not political operators and do not allow the court to become a way to skirt Congress without executive order, an avenue I see both candidates trying to go down.”

For sophomore Baxter Yarbrough, healthcare is the most important issue of this race.

“Even though college debt is the issue that affects me most directly, I would say healthcare is the issue that’s most important to me,” Yarbrough said. “I personally believe that healthcare is a right for all humans and not a privilege for the few or even the vast majority.”

Yarbrough decided he would “vote for the democratic nominee no matter who it was once John Kasich dropped out of the race.”

Yarbrough said that he is voting for Clinton on election day.

“I will admit that my vote is probably slightly more of a vote against Trump than it is for Hillary,” Yarbrough said. “But I still admire and truly respect what Secretary Clinton has done over the years in the various offices, positions she has held and all she has done in regards to the progress of what a woman’s role in politics should be.”

Clinton, a long time champion of health care, has focused her policy on addressing major issues in the Affordable Care Act, whereas Trump has stated that Obamacare will be repealed soon after he takes office, if he wins.

Another issue important to students is race relations.

With many documented cases of police brutality juxtaposed with new movements like Black Lives Matter, race relations have been a key point in the presidential campaign so far.

Both candidates spoke on the issue in their first debate, and both thought they had the best chance to improve relations across the country.

Clinton cited Trump’s involvement with the “birtherism” movement as a disqualification of Trump’s racial neutrality, while Trump claimed he works with many people of color and he is best suited to repair the racial divide.

Junior Suzanna Gibbs said racial tension is an important topic to her, and she plans to vote for Trump.

“He’s still not my favorite person, but I applaud him for his business career,” Gibbs said. “And I think he’s capable of making strong connections. I feel like there’s a lot of unnecessary controversy at this point in the world, and there shouldn’t be.”

Gibbs was uncertain of Clinton.

“I don’t know how truthful she is, for multiple reasons,” she said.

Regardless of who their vote will be for, many students expressed dissatisfaction with both candidates.

McDougall said the candidates are both disappointing for a number of reasons.

“I would usually vote Republican, but Donald Trump has said some absolutely indefensible things about women and Mexicans, and I also think he does not have a serious grasp on the issues,” McDougall said.

McDougall also expressed serious concerns about Clinton.

“At the same time, the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has taken hundreds of millions in donations from multinational corporations and foreign governments, which I believe will stop her from pushing any of the reform that our government and political system so obviously needs,” McDougall said.

He will be voting for Trump in the general election because he sees him “as the only possible chance of true reform and change in this country, even if I do not agree with his personal statements,” McDougall said.


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