America will elect its 45th president this November, and citizens across the nation are anxious to hear who the official nominees will be. For the past eight years, the U.S. has been headed by its first African-American president, and many wonder if the next one could be equally as revolutionary… that is, a woman.
Leading the polls for the Democratic nomination is Hillary Clinton, previous secretary of state and the wife of 42nd President Bill Clinton. Clinton, a 68-year-old grandmother, is currently the top choice for the Democratic Party. But her polls are steadily dropping, and a New York Times article published in December addressed a vital shortcoming in her campaign: she lacks the support of young American women.
According to three Women’s Studies students, Clinton is definitely not their first choice. But all would vote for her if it came down to it, as opposed to a conservative.
“I am more afraid of who the conservatives would pick,” said one male student. “Like God forbid, Donald Trump. Either that or Jeb Bush. She is the lesser of two evils.”
“I think she is good for white women,” said Devaney Sparrow, an 18-year-old student of color, who supports Bernie Sanders. She appreciates Sanders’ involvement with Black Lives Matter. “I think [Clinton] tries to be too in-the middle so she can please everybody. I feel like she’d be good for women, but not for any woman of color. I’d like her rather than any conservative Republican, but I would rather of course have Bernie.”
Nineteen-year-old student Quinn McCray said she previously had a conversation with her mother, who supports Clinton.
“[My mother] feels like after waiting so long to see a woman get in the White House, that to not take the opportunity would just be wrong,” McCray said. “Hearing that, I personally still support Bernie Sanders because I like a lot of what he says. I want to strive to create a society and country that I want to live in, and I think he aligns with a lot of my values. But if it came down to it I would absolutely, totally, positively support Clinton, as opposed to anybody else. I don’t know if she would be that bad, I just don’t know if she’d be able to create the kind of changes that I’m looking for.”
Michael Ceriello, a political science professor at Clark, believes that there is a divide between the different generations of American women.
“Baby boomers just remember when the idea of having a female president was absurd,” Ceriello said. “In their time, a woman’s place was in the home, not in the military or any place of power. They lived through what we would call the feminist movement. They remember the struggle.”
The New York Times article, “Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid,” gives statistics from a Pew Research Center study conducted in May. The data showed that on average, female Generation X’ers (ages 50-70) are 17 percent more supportive of Clinton than Young Millennial women (ages 18-25).
“Age is a big piece of it,” Ceriello said. “Baby boomers just think, ‘I can vote for the first female president!’ They are excited for an oppressed group to gain political power.”
Ceriello also said that older women’s politics would tend to align more with Clinton’s policies. And while the younger generation is leaning more heavily on Sanders, Ceriello said he doesn’t believe Sanders will win the Democratic nomination. When this happens, Ceriello said Sanders will endorse Clinton, leading many of his followers to end up voting for Clinton in order to ensure that a conservative doesn’t obtain office.
“Eight years of potential presidential office is a long time if you’re 15,” Ceriello said. “Maybe not if you are 50.”
Tim McPharlin, another political science instructor at Clark, said he expected that younger people would be more on board with Clinton. He was surprised with the Pew study’s contradiction of that.
“We are overdue! It is time for a woman to be president,” McPharlin said. “But no, that doesn’t automatically mean you should vote for Hillary. I think what’s more important is having a qualified [person] in which we can trust.”
Melissa Boles, the adviser for the Clark College Young Democrat’s Club and a 27-year-old millennial, has a different opinion about Clinton. She plans to vote for her.
“I believe that she has a strong background, solid plans for solving some significant problems, and I also believe she is most likely to be able to work with our current Congress. Sanders has a lot of good qualities, but I’m concerned we have a Congress that wouldn’t be able to work with him,” Boles said.
Boles said she thinks she is in the minority in this opinion: many of her friends support Sanders. Two of her mother figures, both around 55-years-old, have similar opinions about Clinton. According to Boles, both said they will be voting for Clinton in the upcoming election.
“It’s about it being the right person, not their gender or sexual orientation,” Ceriello said. “It just has to be the right person for the job.”