Editor’s note: As the Nov. 3 election draws near, the Daily Universe is exploring different national and local issues impacting voters in a series of stories.
Members of the BYU College Republicans club are confident that President Donald Trump will be re-elected on Nov. 3, and club president Samuel Crofts said 2020 is an especially important election for students in Provo.
“For a lot of people our age, these are really formative years in terms of our opinions,” Crofts said. “Lots of people are telling you how to think or to feel, so elections are a good way to evaluate what issues are important to you.”
While Crofts said Trump isn’t a perfect candidate, he feels optimistic about his re-election.
“Donald Trump is our guy,” Crofts said. “He best reflects the ideals of the BYU College Republicans. There’s a lot of debate on what the proper role of government should be, and Trump offers a better plan for the proper role of government.”
Crofts recommended that any student still on the fence consult their non-political friends and economics professors in making their decision. Both Democrat and Republican pundits and commentators have described the 2020 election as a “battle for the heart and soul of America.”
John McHenry, a junior in Middle-Eastern studies and Arabic, agrees with this assertion.
“This is an absolutely important election,” McHenry said. “There’s a big divide in the country right now, and I think the issue is becoming more about whether or not we want to preserve the traditional America that our grandparents had or not.”
McHenry, like Crofts, is optimistic about Trump’s chances of re-election.
“He was the best candidate in 2016 and he’s the candidate today,” McHenry said. “He has taken a hard stance on two major policies: immigration and trade. His best hope of re-election is to stick to the issues that got him elected in the first place.”
Yet, like many Americans across the country, McHenry is hesitant to share his political beliefs on social media for fear of the response he may get.
“I don’t talk about my political views online,” McHenry said. “I don’t see a point in that. I fear I might be ostracized by those in my friend circles. It may create a wedge between me and others.”
Other Republicans on campus are emphasizing different ideals, such as American exceptionalism. Isabelle Walker, a freshman studying anthropology, said the 2020 election is particularly scary to her.
“I feel like the election is about American values at its core and loving America,” Walker said. “Values like American exceptionalism and patriotism are at stake. I know so many people in the middle politically that have decided they’re going with Donald Trump because of his stance on American exceptionalism.”
Walker’s reference to American exceptionalism comes from Trump’s proposed “1776 Commission,” an educational commission for the support of patriotic education the president said on Sept. 17 he would create by executive order.
“Looking at history objectively is important,” Walker said. “But I think appreciating America is important, and today’s ‘cancel culture’ of American values is scary to me.”
Walker said she feels optimistic about Trump’s re-election, adding that he is the only candidate who has a clear plan for the next four years.
“I feel like Joe Biden is vague in the things he wants to accomplish, and I believe the (Sept. 29) debate reflected that,” Walker said.
She reflected on how the election has affected her and her hesitancy to openly speak about her political beliefs on campus.
“I’m from Arkansas,” Walker said. “There, I would talk freely about my politics. Here, I feel almost scared to wear my Trump gear and announce my support for Donald Trump. I haven’t been able to be as bold for Donald Trump as I have back home. I’ll often hear my professors denounce Trump during class when politics have nothing to do with the lecture.”
English student and Republican Sydney Hendershot has also noticed the effects of the election coming to campus. She said this is one of the most important elections the country has ever had.
“There are a lot of things each side is promising,” Hendershot said. With Democrats trying to fend off the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s new Supreme Court justice nominee, in the days before the election, “Trump is trying to shoehorn (in) a new justice, I’m just excited.”
Like her Republican counterparts, Hendershot is confident that Trump will be re-elected for an additional term.
“I don’t think the Democrats are putting their best foot forward,” Hendershot said. “As they make their policies more severe, people will look for someone more moderate.” Hendershot said, “I’m not a huge fan with the way Trump has handled the recent protests, but I think he will be re-elected. He gets hated a lot more than he deserves.”