Photo courtesy of whitehouse.gov

Presidential primaries competitive in both parties

By Abe Field /// Staff Writer

As 2016 comes, so does the presidential election. This year looks to be one of the most polarizing years in history between the Democrats and the Republicans.

In Iowa, Ted Cruz came away with a convincing win with 27.6% of the vote followed by Donald Trump with 24.3%. For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a virtual tie, with Clinton getting 49.9% of the vote and Sanders getting 49.6%. In New Hampshire, Trump won the Republicans with 35.3% of the vote and Sanders won the Democrats with 60.4%.

Abraham Weill ’17, a Political Science major, expressed excitement about the success of outsider candidates.

“It’s really cool to see Bernie, and even Trump and Cruz winning primaries because none of them are who the party establishment or big money wants to win,” Weill said.

Despite the media spectacle surrounding this stage of the election, some individuals are unhappy with the process. Sarah McDonagh ’18, a member of the L&C debate team, voiced her dissatisfaction with the primary system as a whole.

“[The primaries] are representative of a plutocratic system [which] the sham of American “democracy” has become.”  

Trump, the billionaire businessman from New York, has been leading the Republicans so far this year. Trump’s campaign strategy has been to appeal to working class citizens with college educations, and has hinged on the massive amount of media attention that he has gotten. Every outlandish comment or claim he makes, however offensive it is, boosts his media attention and often coincides with a boost of support in the polls as well. Trump’s most popular statements have also been his most provocative. He speaks his mind, and he has been far from the typical candidate. This makes him even more difficult for other candidates to attack because they do not know whether or not to take him seriously. Trump is dominating in the polls because he has learned how to get attention. Trump is smart enough to know that he is playing the media, and it is working for him because much of campaigning is getting in the news. The calculated things that he says get people rallied. Asher Kalman ’18, president of Lewis & Clark’s young Republicans Club, remarked upon Trump’s successful use of social media.

“Trump is getting the most out of Twitter because his message is already essentialized, so a character count does little to detract from it,” Kalman said.

Cruz, the Junior senator from Texas, though not as brash in his campaign tactics as

Trump,  is still known for his strong opinions on immigration, healthcare and religion. Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada, and some candidates have attacked him for his foreign birth. From the beginning of his campaign, Cruz has defied expectations. After starting the CNBC debate on October 31st in 6th place, Cruz more than doubled his support and, according to many, won the debate. In the months that followed this debate, Cruz emerged as a second Republican front runner and continued to battle in the polls with Trump. Since Cruz’s father emigrated to Texas from Cuba, he qualifies as the first candidate of Hispanic descent to win the Iowa caucuses.

The Republican field also includes Florida Senator Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

The Democratic primary has been an even closer race. Sanders, a previously unknown Senator from Vermont, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been fighting tooth and nail for the Democratic nomination.

In his first major political venture since running for Senate in 2007, Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist. Sanders’ campaign has exceeded expectations in what many thought would be a race dominated by Hillary Clinton. Sanders has relied completely upon individual donations, and draws large crowds to his events. Much of Sanders’ support comes from working class citizens under 40, and he is very popular with the youth. The cornerstone of Sanders’ campaign is fighting the growing economic inequality in the middle class. Sanders has stood out to younger voters for his proposed policies on college education and making all state schools free to attend.

Clinton is no stranger to the Presidential primaries. In 2008, she finished second to Barack Obama, but later became his Secretary of State. The main themes addressed by Clinton’s campaign are inequality in the middle class, improving the Affordable Care Act, and expanding women’s rights in the workplace. Clinton’s campaign has been marred by the Benghazi hearings and an email controversy. Both of these events have lost Clinton credibility, and Democrats are split between Clinton and Sanders.

Only time will tell how these elections will go, as they seem right now to be quite a toss up.

The Oregon primary is on May 17th. Voter registration materials for the state of Oregon can be found at oregonvotes.org.

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