As the 2020 presidential election inches closer, the staunch political views of students amongst a hyper-politicized electorate have sparked tensions at the University of New Mexico. From Democrats to Republicans to every party in between and on the outside, UNM students are voicing their concerns about the upcoming election.
Many individuals have said neither major party candidate — President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden — is their ideal choice. However, many have settled into voting for one of the two.
Daniel Klause, a senior political science major, said Trump has his vote in November.
“I identify as a Republican (because) I believe in the strong values of personal responsibility. The whole idea of limited government — not (zero) government but limited government — (is) that people are responsible for their personal actions, and the less the government’s involved in (our) personal lives, the better,” Klause said.
UNM alumni Colan Mackenzie said he will be voting for Biden next month. Mackenzie graduated with a double major in history and political science in 2018.
“Should Biden be elected, some of the more egregious acts our current government (is) carrying out could be stopped,” Mackenzie told the Daily Lobo in a private message on Twitter.
However, Mackenzie voiced his preference for Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as have other left-leaning individuals and groups.
“Essentially, it boils down to harm reduction rather than actually being motivated to vote for a Biden/Harris ticket, because I dislike both of them quite a bit,” Mackenzie wrote.
This contrasts with the views of many Republicans, who sit on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the independent, Democratic-leaning Sanders.
“I think it’s a sad day in America when someone who classifies himself as a socialist — and I understand he calls himself a Democratic socialist, but a socialist nonetheless — is on the top of a ticket for one of the major parties of the United States, if not the largest,” Klause said.
Noah Dowling-Lujan, president of the campus organization UNM Democrats, said he will definitely be voting for Biden in the election, calling Biden a “serviceable compromise.”
“Almost any other candidate would be doing a better job than (Trump) is right now. It’s just unbelievable the amount of sexism, racism and discrimination that has come out of the Trump administration — the amount of crime that’s happened,” Dowling-Lujan said.
Dowling-Lujan voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primaries but said Biden is still doing well, especially considering that he is coordinating with both Warren and Sanders in his campaign.
“If you have ever (valued) just basic decency, you shouldn’t vote for Donald Trump,” Dowling-Lujan said.
According to Dowling-Lujan, a majority of UNM students are progressive, and he isn’t surprised that so many wanted to vote for Sanders before his primary loss to Biden.
“Above all, they put weight into progressive policies, so that’s why I think a lot of college students are wary about Joe Biden just because they’re more interested in progressive policy than they are in some attachment to ‘vote blue no matter who,’” Dowling-Lujan said.
Klause said Trump isn’t a perfect candidate, but there were “a lot of the uncertainties surrounding 2016 of whether he was actually going to go through with some of the promises on the campaign (and) he has, so I think it’s easier to vote for him this time knowing that what he says he’ll he probably do, as far as Congress and just politics in general allow.”
For example, Klause said Trump has followed through on getting jobs back to the United States as well as delivering on foreign affairs, such as being aggressive with trade and military policy with respect to the Chinese and Iranian governments.
“I am alarmed by some of the people who seem pretty against America and (the) fundamental values that it stands for. While I don’t deny that we have an imperfect past, I do think that we have a lot to fight for, and I think the president is on board with that,” Klause said.
In contrast, Dowlin-Lujan said Biden’s stances on affordable education and health care are a significant reason he should have people’s support.
A Twitter poll asking which major party candidate individuals plan on voting for highlighted political tensions over the upcoming election, evoking impassioned arguments in the comments.
Dowling-Lujan said the dominant politics on campus affect how political discussions play out, especially since UNM is a predominantly white campus in both the student body and administration.
“I think that really impacts the ability that we have to talk about the issues, because we’re coming to the table with different understandings of campus life and life outside of school,” Dowling-Lujan said.
Addressing personal relationships, it’s becoming difficult to separate politics with friends and family, according to Dowling-Lujan.
“We are more and more partisan than we ever have been,” Dowling-Lujan said. “While I obviously think it’s possible to be friends with different political views, I think that especially now as people associate politics with their own morality that it’s a lot harder to separate that from the individual.”
Megan Gleason is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716