Millions of people throughout the country have been voting early at the polls and by mail and are persuading more to get out and vote. Others have been passionately advocating for specific issues. Some are voicing support for President Donald Trump to be in office for another four years and some are advocating that Democratic nominee Joe Biden should be the 46th president of the United States.
Lehigh students are no exception. Many students are motivated by the potential implications of this crucial election and have been politically active in supporting candidates and specific issues.
Hannah Kushner, ‘21, voted straight blue by mail in Delaware and believes this election is important.
She said the biggest issues on the ballot are the pandemic, climate change and health care.
Kushner said millions of people have lost their health care during COVID-19 and thinks the number would only increase if Trump is re-elected. She also supports Biden’s plans for climate change and handling the pandemic.
“There are a lot of urgent issues on the line that (Biden) has, if not the perfect plan for, but at least a pretty decent plan for, where I think Donald Trump would go in the wrong direction,” Kushner said.
Marietta Sisca, ‘23, voted for Trump by mail a few weeks ago and said the president shouldn’t be judged based on this year alone.
She said no president could handle 2020 perfectly and believes Trump is doing the best with the information that he’s been provided with. Sisca also approves of Trump’s tax plan.
“I think a lot of the hate he’s getting in the media and from the general voting population has been based on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the racial tensions and the economic situation we found ourselves in 2020 specifically, which has been an incredibly difficult year,” Sisca said.
Sisca said if Trump gets re-elected, he will continue to make decisive decisions with foreign nations and has the potential to keep building from the crisis we are in.
Sisca said health care and the pandemic response are two of the most important issues for her this election. She said guidance on reopening the economy should occur on the local level rather than the federal level.
Anna Nicosia, ‘21, voted by mail for Biden in her home state of Montana a few weeks ago and agrees there’s a lot on the line.
She said her main motivation for voting for Biden is to not “repeat the last four years” and believes he can move the country forward in a better direction. She said Biden wasn’t a lot of people’s first choice as the Democratic nominee, but that he will bring an element of decency to the government that young people aren’t seeing right now.
“I think the reason young people are rallying around Biden, is not because they think he’s a super progressive candidate, even though he does have some good ideas, but more so moving the country forward and away from the fragile state of democracy we have right now,” Nicosia said.
Nicosia said the biggest issues facing the country right now are health care and COVID-19 and how the economy is going to be revived. She said it’s hard to focus on anything else, but climate change is another important issue that’s on the line.
Nicosia also brought up that gun violence wasn’t mentioned in the presidential and vice presidential debates despite record gun sales during the pandemic.
Maanik Singh, ‘23, dropped off his mail ballot in person on Oct. 30 and said the integrity of this country and an effective response to the pandemic are most at stake for the election.
He said he didn’t have a strong preference for either Trump or Biden, but chose the candidate that he felt like was the better option for the country in the long term.
“I think just overall the unity in our country is something that we’ve been lacking recently,” Singh said. “It’s always been like, ‘Oh, Democrats do this, Republicans do this.’ There’s always friction in the Senate and House. The job isn’t getting done effectively, which is to provide for the U.S. citizens.”
Each of the Lehigh voters agreed the result of this election will have long-term implications for the future of this country, for them personally and the country as a whole.
Kushner said the country is divided right now and isn’t sure if the election will help with that or not. She said she is worried about what will happen with the country on Nov. 4, no matter who wins, but said Democratic supporters will be out on the streets.
She said the country would see more effort toward unifying the country and the Black Lives Matter movement if Biden were to win.
Kushner also said the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is a big concern for her. She said Barrett hasn’t publicly offered a firm stance but feels Barrett will attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.
“As a young woman on my parent’s insurance, I could potentially lose access to their insurance and also access to birth control, abortion rights should I need it,” Kushner said. “I feel that very personally.”
Sisca said everyone at Lehigh should be engaged in the election because students will soon be graduating and entering the workforce.
“I’m going to be getting a job and entering adulthood, paying taxes on an actual engineering salary and not just lifeguarding a couple hours a week,” Sisca said.
Sisca said she is afraid the country is going to get more polarized after the election and hopes that both sides can start working together more. She said health care, dealing with COVID, climate change and creating jobs for people shouldn’t be as political as it is.
“I’m hoping that after this election, we can move past that and start working together, ideally,” Sisca said.
Nicosia said she would be most impacted by this election in terms of the nation’s response to climate change. She also said reproductive freedoms and health care are important for her.
“As a woman, reproductive freedom is super important to me,” Nicosia said. “Whether or not Roe v. Wade gets overturned, for myself and other women, I think personally impacts us like how much we are legislatively governed, how much our reproductive freedom is legislatively governed by the U.S. government.”
Nicosia said she agrees the country is polarized right now and an upside to Biden winning would be that it’s a great opportunity for the country to heal.
“I think that moving forward with the election, and if Biden were to win, it would be a pretty crucial moment to try to make politics a little less inflammatory,” she said. “Just have a president that works to serve all people in the U.S., not just their specific constituency.”
Singh said, though, that the mindsets from both candidates might be outdated and it would have been better to have a younger candidate who could provide a fresher viewpoint that appeals to the younger generation.
Singh said he’s happy people are recognizing that their vote matters for this year.
“I’m glad that people are recognizing the value of voting, compared to 2016 when everyone was like, ‘Oh, I don’t like either candidate, I’m just not going to vote,’” he said. “But that undermines our power of democracy because if you don’t vote, you’re taking away your voice, even if you think one vote isn’t going to make a difference. It really does in an indirect way.”
Didn’t realize an “actual engineering salary” topped $400k+ your first year out of college, but hey — love the optimism! Here’s to hoping hiring managers still want you to work for them after seeing your name on this, because I would not hire anyone with this type of public track record. Best of luck 🙂