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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The Lesser of Two Evils

Young Voters Struggle to Find Representation Among Presidential Candidates
Hannah McDonough
On Tuesday, March 5, otherwise known as Super Tuesday, voters cast their votes at polling stations such as the Austin Public Library. As a result of the 2024 presidential primaries, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are the official party nominees, but many young people don’t feel like either candidate represents them. “It’s just [between the] lesser of two evils,” Lexy Hall ’24 said. “We really just haven’t had a good president in a while. We haven’t had someone who has been making good change because our country has become so extremist.”

Ahead of the recent presidential primary election on Tuesday, March 5, there was a lot of doubt revolving around the turnout of Gen Z voters. In fact, the attendance of this newer generation of voters was projected to be significantly less going into the 2024 presidential election compared to the 2020 election.

In the early voting stages of the Super Tuesday election, the majority of about 2 million early voters in Texas were older Republicans. One of the main reasons for this is that young voters don’t feel like they have a good candidate for whom to vote. The largely Democratic or Independent members of Gen Z have two options: either vote for Donald Trump, who most don’t feel support their viewpoints, or vote for Joe Biden, who many are disappointed with after supporting him in past elections.

“I don’t feel that either [candidate] shows much promise for my political values,” new voter Lexy Hall ‘24 said. “I’m just hoping that next year or in the next four years after this next election, I’ll have a better candidate to vote for who represents my values better.”

Despite Gen Z’s general political left-leaning, many young voters still don’t identify with the Biden campaign for re-election, primarily due to a lack of alignment on specific issues. For this reason, more young people are leaning Independent than older generations.

“[I choose] Biden over Trump though I don’t support any particular candidate so wholeheartedly,” an anonymous student said. “I prefer to support a particular stance on individual issues, and then see which candidates align with the issues I care most about, instead of idolizing any specific political party or candidate.”

Specifically, young voters have attacked Biden’s stance on the situation in Gaza and his lack of action on climate change and abortion rights. Many simply feel like Biden isn’t doing enough, leading a large number of young people to choose to abstain from voting in the 2024 election.

“I understand not liking Biden, but that doesn’t mean you can abstain from voting,” Hall said. “We don’t have any good presidential candidates. The issue with that is that nobody wants to vote, but you have to vote. If you’re not voting, you’re basically conceding that you want someone else to win, [and] that you don’t care about the future of our country.”

With Nikki Haley dropping out of the race, Trump is the Republican nominee, meaning that the election will be another Trump vs. Biden battle, similar to the 2020 election.

“I’m hoping Biden will win, because he seems like the lesser of two evils,” an anonymous student said. “Although his age has led to many health problems that hinder his ability to lead the U.S., Trump could be even worse, inciting hatred and fear as he did during the pandemic.”

Many younger people don’t like the current candidates because they don’t feel like older politicians truly reflect their values. According to a survey sent out by Westwood Student Press, some of these issues include gun control, foreign affairs, human rights, and climate change action. With Trump’s lack of support for certain items like gun control and Biden’s lack of headway on topics such as climate change, many members of Gen Z feel disappointed in the presidency.

“I definitely do value social values,” Hall said. “The Democratic Party [is] all about more equity, more social norms, helping raise up diversity. Then for Republicans, I actually really liked their economics most of the time. They’re very good at [regulating] economy and a lot of foreign affairs. That’s my big issue. My values can’t be upheld by either candidate.”

The November presidential election could be a close call, since Biden and Trump’s favorability ratings among U.S. citizens are almost even, according to a Gallup poll. Based on trends from the 2008 and 2020 elections, young voters could have a significant impact in this election as well. Whether or not they vote, the election will feel the effects. If younger people vote, they could get their preferred candidate in power. If they abstain from voting, they could either achieve their goal of making a statement that current politics don’t represent them, or they could change the results of the election by causing the largely preferred party to not get enough votes.

“It’s incredibly important [to vote],” Hall said. “I mean, a lot of people think that their vote doesn’t count, but it does. Your votes are always [going to] count. There’s no better way to say that. Especially with the political times we’re in right now, it’s so important to be voting.”

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About the Contributor
Hannah McDonough
Hannah McDonough, Horizon Assistant Editor
Class of 2024 I am so excited to continue working on the Horizon this year! Aside from writing and reporting, some of my favorite things to do include reading, listening to music, and watching Gilmore Girls.

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