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Election 2016: What You Need to Know

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Auburn chapter.

Congratulations, collegiette. You’ve made it to your first presidential election. 

Ever since you were a kindergartener wearing your American flag t-shirt from Old Navy your mom made you and all your siblings wear on the Fourth of July, you have been dreaming of the day you could vote in the presidential election, making a lasting impact on the beautiful thing that is American democracy. Then you learn about the electoral college and how little impact your vote actually has, but that’s another story.

Your day is here. You, a person who likely is not sure what the rest of your life is going to look like, can help determine the future of one of the greatest nations in the world for four whole years.

Do not ruin this for us. America deserves a president who reflects the opinions and the feelings of the majority of the public, but there’s a serious lack of knowledge about the candidates, their policies and their plans for the future of the United States.

So, read this to get educated about your vote, and choose wisely. America’s next four years depend on it.



Hillary Clinton (Hillary for America)

Why people like her:

Girl Power!

Hillary is the first woman to run in a presidential election that actually has a chance at winning the Democratic nomination. Her election as president would be a concrete step towards gender equality in the largely male government and would provide a voice for a largely marginalized half of the population. She is also a proponent for women’s rights, promising to work to close the pay gap, fight for paid family leave and to protect women’s health and reproductive rights.


Clinton has had years of political experience, starting as the First Lady, becoming senator of New York and holding the position of Secretary of State. She has an incredibly qualified background, especially in the area of foreign policy. She is the most widely traveled Secretary of State in history, attending 112 countries and 306 diplomatic meetings. She has a history of being willing to stick her neck out for causes she believes in, being one of the first candidates to discuss racial inequality with reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Clinton supporters believe she would do the same as president.

Why people don’t like her:


Basically what happened was that when Clinton was Secretary of State, some terrorists took over a diplomatic compound in Libya, begging questions about how it happened –people were curious as to why there were American diplomats there in the first place, how we were unable to secure the base or get there in time to stop the attack. A committee discovered that Clinton had been using a non-government email account to send classified information, using a server that was susceptible to cyberattacks by foreign countries.

Too long, didn’t read: They do not trust her judgment because she used a vulnerable email server to send juicy info that could’ve compromised national security.


Since Clinton has been in the public eye for years being First Lady and running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, she has let plenty of opinions fly that have not been approved by her campaign manager. In 2000, she said she was opposed to gay marriage, but as of today she is a proponent. She condemned Barack Obama for his ideas on gun control, but is now a supporter of gun control. She has made a consistent habit of going back on her votes as a senator, in favor of taking a position more favorable to voters today. She claims that she has done this because she has made significant strides in her beliefs, which are reflected in her policies, but opponents accuse her of both not being genuine in her beliefs and changing policy to garner favor with liberals.


Bernie Sanders (A Political Revolution is Coming, #feelthebern)

Why people like him:

Appeals to Millenials

Over the course of the election, Sanders has consistently locked down the young vote. This generation has grown up in a time of national debt and economic depression, war out break, seemingly without end, and sky-high unemployment rates. Sanders has promised student loan reform and free college tuition, as well as overall economic equality. His main platform is one of debt reduction, which unsurprisingly appeals to a generation that feels like it is drowning in debt, because they needed to go to college to enter their field, but feel uncompetitive in today’s job market. Sanders has made political involvement cooler for young people, evidenced by his dominating social media presence and the significant amount of his campaign stickers seen on college campuses across America.

Consistent Policy

Unlike many candidates, Sanders has maintained a record of voting that has stood the test of time. His current policies and opinions as a presidential candidate reflect the actions he took as Vermont senator. He has consistently voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline, promoting big corporations and Wall Street, and has voted for reproductive independence for women. Meanwhile, other candidates have changed opinions regarding their official policies that contradict their prior actions as politicians.

Why people don’t like him:


Sanders has such extreme ideas about economic equality that many criticize his ideas as socialist, or trying to have a large government that owns the means of production of goods and services and subsequently controlling the amount of money earned by the people providing these goods and services. Sanders has embraced his position as a Democratic socialist, but has denied that he believes the government should overtake the means of production. Socialism is an idea closely associated with Communism, something that Americans have traditionally hated, because of its limitations on freedom. Therefore, opponents have criticized his policies as Communist and un-American and have insisted that the policies would not mesh well with an American free market.

Economic incompetence

Recently, Sanders posted a tweet on his account (@SenSanders) saying “You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt, but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?” Sanders opponents have mocked this because they think it demonstrates fundamental misunderstandings about the economy- homes can be refinanced at a lower interest rates, because the home acts as collateral for the loan, and student loans are unsecured with collateral. Basically, if you stop paying your mortgage, your house gets repossessed, but if you stop paying your student loans, you just get more debt. Critics say that although many Americans do not understand this discrepancy, a president should have a better understanding of basic economic principles before they are allowed to determine economic policy.



Marco Rubio (A New American Century)

Why people like him:


Rubio is a young, Christian candidate who is willing to stick his neck out for his faith and his beliefs even at the expense of political gains. This makes him appeal to the large young Christian majority in America. Rubio has demonstrated a willingness to let his faith take precedence over politics in several public arenas. This has made people believe that he is a faithful candidate, who will stick to his guns (ha, gun pun) despite any political downfalls that may provide. 


Despite the fact that Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants, he has a staunch policy for border security and enforcing immigration laws in the workplace. Because of his personal association with the issue, one would predict that Rubio would be pro-immigration, but he is exactly the opposite. His status as the child of immigrants has made him a semi-expert on the subject, and his anti-immigration stance has made people believe that as president, he would not let things like family issues interfere with his decisions on domestic policy. Rubio believes that “enforcing immigration laws is not anti-immigrant,” an idea which handily appeals to Republicans with a compassion for immigrants.

Why people don’t like him:

Hates his job

Rubio’s career as Florida senator has been characterized by impatience with Congress and its gridlock. An anonymous Floridian friend of Rubio’s has been quoted in the Washington Post as saying that Rubio hates his job as senator. While he has been pursuing Republican candidacy in the 2016 election, he decided to leave the Senate. His senate seat is often empty for important congressional events like votes, and he insists that he is taking a sabbatical from Senate to run for president and make the votes taken in the Senate meaningful again. All of this put together has called into question if his frustration will roll over into the presidency and affect his decision making. Opponents have said that regardless of frustration, Rubio should have taken on the burden of doing the job he was elected to do and might neglect to do his job as president also.


While in Senate, Rubio had a minimal number of wins. Despite a large number of proposals and bills he did support as a new senator, he did sponsor, helping to pass, comprehensive immigration reform, making the pathway to legality easier for illegal immigrants. His other accomplishments have included helping to pass bills, naming September as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month and congratulating the Miami Heat for winning the NBA Championship. Many think this record of unsuccessful pursuits might follow Rubio to the White House, which is an undesirable quality in a president.


Ted Cruz  (Reigniting the Promise of America)

Why people like him:

Most conservative candidate still in the race

According to this article, which combines the voting scores, the fundraising and the public statements made by the candidate into a score of how conservative they are, Cruz has the highest overall record of being conservative out of all of the 2016 Republican candidates. This appeals to Republican voters, who in 2012 self-identified as conservative at a rate of 75% during the primaries.


Many believe that Cruz has a lot of “backbone” for a presidential candidate. His campaign has designated him as a Washington outsider, which is appealing to a large portion of Republicans who believe that Congress is corrupt.  The large majority of Americans have grown cynical about the abilities of Congress to actually enact change, and Cruz reflects these ideals.

Why people don’t like him:

Debate on whether he’s a natural born citizen

For a person to run for president, he or she must be at least 35 years old, a U.S. resident for 14 years and a “natural born citizen” of the United States. There has been some debate as to what a natural born citizen means. It could mean that someone has been a citizen from birth, which applies to Cruz because he was born to an American mother and thus has birthright citizenship. However, because Cruz was born in Canada, many people (including fellow candidate Donald Trump) believe he does not have a natural born right to citizenship, particularly with Cruz’s conservative stances on immigration and citizenship.

History of unpopularity with fellow lawmakers

Cruz’s time in the Senate has made him several enemies. He has described his Congressional colleagues as being part of a corrupt “Washington cartel,” making other senators feel called out and criticized. According to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-Iowa) in a CNN article, Cruz has burned bridges with his fellow senators. Cruz critics believe that as president, his actions as a senator would have created a divided Congress that would be difficult to pass his promised legislation through.


Donald Trump (Make America Great Again!)

Why people like him:

Economic expertise

As multi-billionaire owner of Trump Enterprises, there is no doubt that he knows how to handle money. Job creation would likely be no problem for a man who employs millions. He was the only candidate who self-funded his campaign, something which he claims points out that he would not be influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups. Trump claims that he could reduce America’s national debt using business tactics he has used as a billionaire entrepreneur.

Willing to say what he believes without worrying about political correctness 

Trump has completely disregarded the idea of being politically correct in his statements, claiming that he doesn’t have time to pander to those who would be offended by his political incorrectness. Basically, Trump says what he wants and people love him for it. Supporters believe that today’s atmosphere of everyone needing to be politically correct and not offend people has homogenized opinion in America and forced candidates to say the same things over and over. Trump has stepped out of this cycle, and supporters feel this is something to be celebrated.

Why people don’t like him:

Comments marginalizing minorities 

The fact that Trump stepped out of the arena of political correctness has led to him saying some things that people have classified as sexist, racist and all around prejudiced. He has been quoted as saying that the women who have succeeded on his reality TV show, the Apprentice, have succeeded due to their sex appeal. He stated on The View that his daughter Ivanka was so beautiful that if he weren’t her father, he would date her. He generalized that all Mexican immigrants are racists and drug dealers to justify his border control policies. He has perpetrated terror about Muslim people. Critics of Trump find his refusal to be politically correct abhorrent, and believe it could affect foreign relations negatively.

Inexperienced in politics 

As a businessman, Trump has little to no knowledge about how being a politician in America works. His knowledge of the process of passing bills and enacting policies pales in comparison to the other candidates. In several debates, Trump has revealed a lack of  knowledge of the issues that are important for a president to know about. Critics believe his experience in economics does not outweigh his lack of experience in domestic and foreign policy.

Other candidates running on the Republican ticket include neurosurgeon Ben Carson, political protégé and brother of the prior president Jeb Bush, and Congressman John Kasich. However, these candidates have not fared very well in the Iowa caucus or general polls.


Alright, now you know. Go forth and vote, but do your research first.


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Meghan is a senior at Auburn majoring in microbiology and minoring in journalism. She has been a contributing writer for Her Campus since her freshman year of college, and she absolutely loves it! Her life is made up of alternating periods of stress and relaxation, but full of joy. She loves octopi, Dr. Pepper and strong jawlines.