Amid election discord, students show partisanship

Despite unpopularity, U political groups continue to vow support for their party’s nominations.

by Aaron Job

Despite polls showing historic unpopularity among the two main presidential candidates, the University of Minnesota’s College Republicans and College Democrats plan to support their party’s candidate.

As both parties solidify their nominees, recent events — like the Democratic National Committee email leak and radical proposals from Donald Trump including vetting immigrants from France or other countries hit by terrorism — have left many Democrats and Republicans dismayed with their candidate options with just more than three months before election day. 

Aditya Penugonda, vice president for Students for Bernie, said he wasn’t thrilled with the DNC — especially in light of recent emails suggesting it favored Hillary Clinton — but thought former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation was appropriate. 

While Penugonda said the group wasn’t thrilled about Sanders’ loss of the nomination, he said that turning from one’s political party or refraining from voting because one’s candidate of choice is no longer on the ballot is foolish.

“I would say that it’s a lot bigger than just the presidential race,” Penugonda said. “There’s a lot of other people on the ballot, so vote for who you want to vote for but make sure you’re aware of the consequences of what you’re doing.” 

College Republicans representative Theo Menon said — while stressing economic development and fiscal responsibility — he accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. 

“I think we’ve seen a lot of policies that have not worked well over the past few years, bridging back over the last two presidencies,” Menon said. “I think students are looking for something different, something unique, and I think that’s why Donald Trump definitely has an opportunity to appeal to millennials and people who are dissatisfied with the political system.”

Menon also attributed the polling success of Trump to his background in business and his status as a political outsider. 

Braxton Haake, the incoming President of the University’s College Democrats, said he finds Trump fascinating as a political science student, but terrifying as a citizen.

“[Trump] will flip flop not just day to day but conversation to conversation, and yet he has a reputation for being a straight shooter,” he said. “It seems that all of his strengths that his supporters list appear backwards. He seems to be the embodiment of the opposite of what they want … a character that seems like a walking oxymoron.”

Haake said that though he was dissatisfied with his party in light of the DNC email leaks, he said his group supports Clinton. 

“If you are a progressive — even if you have disagreements with Hillary Clinton — it’s still obviously in your best interest and the best interest of the country to vote Democrat,” he said. 

Menon, however, said he thinks that Clinton’s past actions in government work have left her with a complicated and scandalous persona. 

“I think Hillary Clinton is a very complicated candidate. Never before in American history, at least in this living memory, have we had a candidate so thrilled with past government scandals and situations that raise a lot of questions,” he said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.