There’s something about the name “Clinton” that triggers a reaction from people. Whether it be a passionate smile or a scornful scowl, it is indisputable that the Clinton brand carries immense weight among Americans and foreigners alike.
With last week’s Republican National Convention and this week’s Democratic National Convention, partisanship and political views around the nation – including Exeter – have reached a high and, consequently, opinions of Hillary Clinton have come to fruition.
This week, Democrats from across America are convening in Philadelphia for one main reason: to formally pick the party’s presidential nominee. Like their Republican counterparts who met in Cleveland a week before, Democrats have held primary elections for the past six months to determine delegates who are attending the DNC now.
Jackie Weatherspoon, wife of Exeter faculty member Russell Weatherspoon, is one of those delegates. As told to me by her husband, Mrs. Weatherspoon was chosen to represent New Hampshire at the DNC by her peers in a local election. After giving a short speech about her views, she was elected by other Clinton supporters as a delegate to Philadelphia. There, Mrs. Weatherspoon is one of the 2,814 delegates at the convention who voted for Hillary Clinton.
Through primaries, Hillary Clinton’s delegate count — like Donald Trump’s — was high enough for her to clinch the nomination before the convention. On Tuesday night, she was officially announced as the candidate, making history by becoming the first woman nominee of a major American political party.
However, Clinton’s nomination has been somewhat tainted in the past few days due to the leakage of secret emails demonstrating an obvious bias towards Clinton by party leadership. This has partially validated the claims by Bernie Sanders supporters who believed that internal forces were working against the Vermont Senator during the primary season.
“Bernie got [betrayed]” said Dylan Santa, an Upper School student from California. As a result of the email controversy, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has decided to step down from her position as Democratic Chairperson.
Here at Exeter, students have expressed a variety of views on the Democratic nominee.
“I don’t know how someone who lets Americans die could earn our trust and become our president,” said Anna Harmon, an Upper School student. Harmon is referencing Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State during the Benghazi crisis in which four Americans died during a militant assault on the American embassy in Libya.
On the other hand, Neil Nie, an Upper School student from Massachusetts, holds a different view of Clinton.
“I think it is appropriate for Clinton to be the nominee because of her experience,” said Neil. “She has fought for civil rights and equality her entire life, and I believe her leadership and record sets her apart.”
Neil also agrees with Clinton’s plan to continue some of President Obama’s policies, notably reformed healthcare, which has provided an estimated 20 million people with health insurance since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Somewhere between Anna and Neil, Oliver Zoubek – an Upper School student from New Jersey – has a more nuanced view of Clinton.
“I don’t think she is trustworthy or responsible,” said Zoubek, reflecting Anna’s earlier statement. However, says Oliver, “In the event that she does become president, I do feel confident that her experience in foreign affairs would help the nation.” The latter statement resembles Neil’s beliefs more accurately.
From analysis, after observing both the students at Exeter and the mainstream media, it appears that one of the most common arguments against Clinton’s presidency is that she is untrustworthy.
On the flip side, one of the most common arguments in favor of Clinton’s presidency is experience.
Interestingly, Donald Trump is now leading Clinton in some “trustworthy polls” but lacking in most “experience polls” – a near inverse of her. This fall, it seems that voters are going to be choosing between what they value more: trustworthiness or leadership, among other things.
In the end, I like another statement made by Dylan Santa. “Basically,” says Santa, “Hillary and Trump are a rock and a hard place, and Hillary is just a bit softer.”
Though I personally think that Hillary is much better than Trump on many issues, I believe that the statement summarizes how many Americans feel in general about this election cycle.