Make America Great Again. These words were able to help capture the nation and lead the march to one of the most unlikely presidential results in history. With the election of Donald Trump, many questions have been raised by the Simpson community as to what this new America will look like.
ID Magazine conducted a public opinion poll the week leading up to the election to try and better understand how Simpson would be voting.
The Simpson poll showed top three issues were the economy, higher education affordability and health care as the biggest concerns of Simpson students. When asked who they would vote for if the election were today, 61 percent of respondents said Hillary Clinton while 24 percent said Donald Trump.
This is a stark contrast to the final results in Warren County at large. According to the Associated Press and Politico, of the 3,858 eligible voters, 70 percent of Warren County voted for Trump. The outpour of support for Trump in Iowa was well documented and from the very beginning Trump was able to key in on issues that many Iowans found important. From the moment Trump announced his candidacy, immigration reform was put forth as a pillar of his presidency. While much attention was brought to the discussion of building a wall, a deeper discussion about the place of Mexican-Americans in our state was being had.
Freshman Ashley Cruz has seen both sides of the debate and understands why people are frustrated. Cruz’s mother legally immigrated to the United States when she was 8 and is upset about the handling of illegal immigration.
“My mom is a Trump supporter, and I asked her why and she was like, ‘Well it is not fair for people who aren’t citizens to come to the states and get benefits while those who have been citizens for a while don’t get that benefit,’” Cruz said. “So I guess I get where she comes from when she says Trump is not just a racist.”
Here in Iowa, the discussion surrounding undocumented immigrants was amplified by the tragic death of Sarah Root, a college student in Council Bluffs that was killed by a suspected drunken driver who was in the country illegally and eventually fled while on bail. Sarah’s Law, a piece of legislation introduced by Iowa and Nebraska lawmakers,
would prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take custody of an individual who is in the country illegally and charged with a crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury.
Issues like immigration where key in changing the look of voting groups who were active at the polls this year.
One of the most noticeable impacts being felt from this election cycle is a resurgence of voters in the political process from different walks of life. During the primary process, many young voters returned to the polls for Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders or later campaigned for a third-party candidate. While the Iowa caucuses came down to a virtual tie, this shift in voter awareness seemed to fade going into the general election. In ID’s election poll, 77 percent of respondents felt more involved in the political process than in the past. While the majority of registered voters polled where independents (38 percent), only 15 percent of Simpson students said they would be voting for third-party candidates.
The shockwave of this new engagement can be felt in the protests happening at high schools and campuses across the nation. Sophomore Cecilia Martinez is double majoring in political science and philosophy and said there is a place for protest if one feels the need.
“I can see how some people say that they don’t really don’t know what else to do. That is one thing they know they can do. They can stand up and raise their voice and things like that,” Martinez said. “There is always going to be people who say, ‘Oh you’re being violent, you’re being disruptive, you’re not doing it right’ as if there is a right way of doing these things. I think it is important that people are mobilizing and really standing up for what they believe in.”
While the voices of many young people are being heard, the impact of non-college-educated white voters was perhaps the most influential group in getting Trump to the White House. The reach of this group was strong in Iowa as most of the counties that flipped during this presidential election were heavily impacted by the white non-college educated vote.
“I think what we’re talking about here is people looking at eight years of Barack Obama not feeling that great about where the country is right now, even though here in Iowa the economy is better on average than a lot of the other states that we saw flip (in 2016),” said Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register, while speaking at election forum event at the Iowa Tap Room. “I think people saw the fastest way to that change would be to change the occupant of the White House (sic).”
“Most Iowa incumbents did get re-elected. There were only six seats that changed (for republicans),” Obradovich said.
According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters (ages 18-29) supported Clinton over Trump by 55 percent to 37 percent.
However, There are concerns in the state of about that the future of the Democratic party.
“There has been this concern of quote ‘brain drain’ of Iowa college graduates over the last 10 to 20 years. It is kind of the younger and somewhat more progressive people that aren’t staying around Iowa,” Political Science Department Chair Kedron Bardwell said at the Iowa Tap House event. “They’ve been voting in other places and so even though you have these ruts and stagnation in the population of some of these rural areas, they still are a significant part
of the Iowa population.”
Another issue that is close to Bardwell was the strong adoption of Trump among the evangelical community. While Trump has commented that he is “not sure” whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness in his life, he was able to win over 80 percent of the evangelical vote in Iowa.
“That (Supreme Court appointments), I think for the most part, overrode for people in the pews any concerns about Trump’s temperament or his moral standing,” Bardwell said. “Within the evangelical elite community and leadership community there was even a very sharp divide between some of the old religious right and some of the younger newer evangelical voices but it didn’t pass down to the pews.”
The polarizing nature of this election has created less opportunity to explore the middle-ground issues like providing paid family leave and a rejection of most major trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that the two candidates shared. In the week following the election, Trump announced a unique student debt plan The
Washington Post calls “the most liberal student loan repayment plan since the inception of the federal financial aid program”.
Perhaps one of the most difficult thing to measure moving forward will be how this election has impacted young people, especially those who are not old enough to vote.
According to the New York Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking episodes of harassment and discrimination since the election, said the most commonly reported location for harassment were K-12 schools.
The unexpected impact of this exposure will be a challenge for future educators and mentors looking to explain the events surrounding the Trump presidency.
Martinez found that hostile interactions are not just headlines in the news. Martinez identifies as queer and is the president of Simpson PRIDE, They are concerned about the treatment of individuals of all ages.
Martinez’s 11-year-old nephew was being harassed by classmates because of his Latino heritage and was taken aback.
“I had never seen younger children feel that too. They’re impacted as much as we’d like to think that they don’t understand what is going on. They get it,” Martinez said. “I’ve talked to some professors on campus where their kids were asking them questions about things on election night. That is something that I never really thought of before, how younger children are impacted by this. They aren’t able to go out and form their own opinions so there is just a lot of repeating of what their parents say and that is interesting to me.”