“With the 2016 election, before it came down to Hillary versus Trump, a lot of younger turnout was happening all across the nation, which was really heartening to see,” said junior broadcast journalism major Conor Rowland. “It got a lot of people involved, but the problem is, in our age group we really have the devotion and the time to be passionate about something, but we don’t have the experience, or I guess you could say maturity, to stand next to someone who has a different opinion and not scream and shout at them.”
For many current juniors and seniors, this was the first election in which they felt their votes and voices would matter and make a difference in the way the national government runs the country.
“Before the 2016 elections, my age group was dominated by a sense of despair where we didn’t believe that our vote mattered,” Rowland said. “Why would a bunch of 60 to 70-year-olds listen to 17 to 25-year-olds? It doesn’t make sense. Then all of a sudden, we were thrust into an election where we suddenly cared; we were charged; we were motivated to make a difference.”
Rowland grew up in a small, tight-knit community in upstate New York where everyone knew one another. Rowland said from what he can recall, the people around him “did not pay attention to politics,” but were nonetheless mostly Republican.
Rowland identified as a Republican himself for the majority of his life, but later in high school noticed his first shift in political ideology.
“In high school, I became a hardline liberal; but after years of realizing how the Democrats blatantly pander toward disenfranchised groups for voting power, I slowly gravitated towards a centrist’s stance.”
“After my experiences through the 2016 election, I wouldn’t say my political opinion has changed all too much; although I will admit that it has definitely matured in how I approached any form of political discourse.”
“I’m not saying the Republican party isn’t guilty of the same pandering tactics, but at least with them it’s pretty obvious and they don’t act like they rode into the room on a high horse. Nowadays, I feel as if my political opinion is reminiscent of a 1960s centrist, which was a stance that existed before the times of severe polarization that we see now. Unfortunately, in many topics this labels me as a conservative, which in today’s times sounds much like an insult.”
“Once it came down to Trump versus Hillary, there was a schism in our age group and people fell into this dilemma where they lost trust in our government and it boiled down to picking the lesser of two evils,” he said.
Rowland says that he is most influenced by and interested in international politics, which, he says, “are decided by nation actors.”
Rowland further expressed that major events and scandals in the White House make it “a revolving door.” He went on to say that scandals today are treated “more like celebrity news,” which is drastically changing how the public perceives politics.
“I’m sick of how things are run and the more I delve into my studies on politics, the more I realize this system isn’t sustainable for progress.”