Written by Julia Clements
Photos by Matt McGraw
The landscape of the city of Philadelphia has begun to transform as a result of the 2016 Presidential election. Philadelphia prepares to host the Democratic National Convention in July. Even our former mayor, Michael Nutter, has weighed in on the national election, suggesting that he wanted to ban Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from Philadelphia. This, in addition to a mural painted in the first weeks of March on a building at 22nd and Catharine streets, depicting Bernie Sanders with the accompanying slogan “Philly the Bern” highlights the hyper attention that the 2016 election demands.
That being said, this is the first presidential election that many college students have experienced as voting-aged adults. Our first chance to actively participate in a major political process happens to be one of the most unpredictable and bizarre elections that has ever occurred, and our voice may be the factor that decides the race. In fact, according to an index created by Kei Kawashima-Ginsburg, the director of CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, Pennsylvania comes in third on the list of states that the millennial vote will have the most impact on the 2016 election. This could be the most divisive, chaotic election that America has seen in modern history. And we, the lucky members of the millennial and post millennial generations, are at the forefront of this political warfare.
It all started preceding the summer of 2015. It seemed like the 2016 election would be typical and decisive. Hilary Clinton, one of the most prominent career politicians of our time was clearly going to run and was clearly going to win the Democratic nomination. The Republican Party had less stability, but no one could have predicted what would happen next. All of a sudden, celebrity personality and billionaire Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidential race. At the time, it was received as more of a joke than an actual campaign, instead an ambitious grab for publicity. However, as we all know now, it slowly became less amusing as Trump grew in popularity. On the other side, Bernie Sanders arose from relative obscurity and challenged Clinton. Sanders’ announcement hardly evoked a blink from the media and absolutely no one expected him to be true competition.
After months of surprising upsets, Trump is still leading in Republican race and Bernie is giving Clinton a run for her money. These wildcard candidates are what sets this election apart from any other election in history. They also are the game changers of the most turbulent election in recent years. A premier example of this divisiveness is the occurrences of violence at several recent Trump rallies. Most notably, protesters crashed a Trump rally in Chicago which led to confrontation, violence and arrests. Many of the protesters were no older than college students. The footage of protesters clashing with Trump supporters and police officers controlling the crowd were almost reminiscent of Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and 70s.
The conditions of this election have inspired young people to participate more than ever. The conviction of both sides are passionate and vigorous. Interestingly enough, Trump crusaders and Bernie believers have more in common than they think. Both candidates are results of an anti-establishment tone of the presidential race. This is a boiling point. Americans are sick and tired of the status quo and the usual political routine. Voters want an outsider. They want a representative that does not fear the consequences of speaking their mind and fighting for what they believe in. They want a self-sufficient candidate that lacks ties to outside interests. They simply want change. As starkly different Trump and Sanders are in belief, they both appeal to this current desire of the American people. And this desire may push through an election that will surely make the history books as one of the most unprecedented, unbelievable elections in American history; so be sure that you’re a part of it.