If you have been near a television recently, there is a strong chance you have heard at least some talk about the upcoming 2016 presidential election. News outlets such as NBC, CNN or Fox News have released regular poll numbers and airing debates. Or perhaps you’ve heard certain candidates being the epicenter for many comedians jokes such as Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, and John Oliver just to name a few. Regardless of how funny their jokes may be, the upcoming election is something to take seriously, although we are well over a year away from the actually November 4, 2016 election day. We as voters should still stay up-to-date with all things political. Which is why I sat down recently with our local government and all things political expert, Dennis Pohlman the assistant professor of Government, History, and Political Science and asked him his thoughts about the candidates and the advice he has for young voters.
Robbie Rodgers (Interviewer): Although we are still well over a year away from the presidential election, it seems like every time you turn the news on we hear talks about poll numbers and results from debates. My question is have you already started following the election or do you think it is still too early?
Associate Professor Pohlman (Interviewee): Oh Certainly, I wasn’t able to watch all of the last debate because it was over 3 hours long and was going on through 10 o’clock. But already we have already started to see the Republican field start to get smaller. Two candidates have dropped out, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Scott Walker the governor of Wisconsin and I don’t see how Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia is going to remain in the race with limited funds.
Robbie Rodgers: Do you see more candidates dropping out sooner or holding off to the end?
Associate Professor Pohlman: The Iowa Caucuses should help narrow the fields down. Since history has shown nobody who hasn’t placed 1st or 2nd in the caucuses has been nominated, in recent decades, the realization that they’re not going to win should come for some of the candidates. As well, there are a limited amount of donors, and all the candidates are tapping into the same pool of money, so I think the donors are going to decide who has the likely chance of winning and cause those with a lack of funds to reconsider.
Robbie Rodgers: What about Donald Trump?
Associate Professor Pohlman: Since Donald Trump can fund his own campaign and is at the top of the polls, he should in the meantime continue to be a factor in the election. More debates are scheduled, so we will have to see if he trips up, but it doesn’t really matter what he says in public because it seems the more outrageous things he says the more attention he gets. It seems he’s immune to the same mistakes other candidates make. I do find it intriguing that the three non-politician candidates are leading in the polls.
Robbie Rodgers: How do you think student s should go about researching candidates such as Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Dr. Ben Carson who have no political experience to research? Do their business and personal lives matter?
Associate Professor Pohlman: I think it is going to matter a lot in Fiorina’s case. Her only political experience was failed run for senator of California, and although she did seem to receive a boost in the recent debate, her background will ultimately hurt her, because she was fired from Hewlett-Packard and the company shed a lot of jobs during her time as CEO. Shareholders were not happy with her, but she said she did what had to be done, and left the company with a nice bonus.
Robbie Rodgers: For Dr. Carson?
Associate Professor Pohlman: Dr. Carson has a very compelling personal story. He is a noteworthy heart surgeon and has donated his time to those who couldn’t afford surgery. He was the chief of staff at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, which is one of the best hospitals in the country. He is a soft-spoken guy and seems to be sensible to many people. I don’t know if his comments on Muslims will make a difference. There are hardly any Muslim voters in the primaries, so it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Many, though, have been questioning if we should be more inclusive, the Constitution doesn’t bar anybody from being president of the United States, regardless of their religion.
Robbie Rodgers: Switching gears, on the democratic side we see the candidate Bernie Sanders, who is a socialist, closing in on Democrat Hillary Clinton in polls. My question is to some voters who is Bernie Sanders, and what does it mean to be a socialist?
Associate Professor Pohlman: Sanders is actually calling himself a “Democratic Socialist”, so he is trying to make a comparison to the Democratic Socialist parties of Europe, and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, as an example. She represents that party in Germany, but there are other Democratic Socialist parties all across Scandinavia. Sweden in particular, but so are Denmark, Iceland, and Norway. Bernie Sanders is the farthest left when compared to Hillary Clinton. He draws in a lot of support from college students because of the different message he delivers. However, he fails to connect with minorities and struggles with older voters because he is unclear about his plains with Social Security and Medicare. Socialist tend to favor government ownership of portions of the economy, such as airlines, railroads, telephones and internet service. They do have Government run health care and dominate education, but at the same time you pay higher taxes in order to pay for these government services and programs.
Robbie Rodgers: One last question to ask for the closing. What would be some advice you would give college students who could be voting for the very first time in this upcoming election? What advice would you give them when it comes to researching candidates?
Associate Professor Pohlman: I think especially if you’re a first-time voter, emotion is going to carry the day. I would if possible go to see the candidates in person. Eventually the candidates will make their way to our location. We’ve already hosted six Republican candidates in St. Louis and the Missouri Primary is going to be in either March or April of next year. I think we ought to invite as many candidates as possible to appear here at East Central College: I mean why not? Candidates have come to our area before. Back in 2008 President Obama gave a speech at a park here in Union. Student Government should send out letters of invitation to all the candidates. Hopefully we could host one or a few candidates, since they are all looking for the opportunity to appear before student crowds. It would be good for us and them. I don’t think we will host a debate any time soon, but in the meantime as long as there is a news camera and a crowd politicians are liable to show up. I think Bernie Sanders would be an interesting candidate to invite because his message is certainly different compared to the other candidates, and he seems to draw in big crowds at college campuses such as the University of Oregon.
Robbie Rodgers: It seems like Bernie Sanders appears to be drawing in a lot of support with college students, especially those here on campus.
Associate Professor Pohlman: Well so far, college students though, are notorious for showing up for rallies and talking enthusiastically, but then not ending up registering to vote. People under 25 are viewed as unreliable voters. So if you believe in a candidates ideals and they match up with your beliefs, then you need to follow up with it and register and vote in the primary and general election. Then once you vote, it seems like regardless of the outcome, if you start voting at a young age you tend to keep voting for the rest of your life. As well we need more civic education in the United States and need to convince more people voting is important.