By Nana Ramsey
The Scene staff
The 2016 presidential election campaign is well underway, and Forest Park students, like people all over the country, are developing views on the candidates and issues.
In an informal campus poll, most students voiced support for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a liberal who has waged a strong challenge to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, for the Democratic Party nomination.
Fine arts major Jeremy Hampton, 20, supports Sanders because of his positions on foreign policy, law enforcement and the economy. He likes that Sanders is concerned about poverty and the disappearance of the middle class, and that he wants to create more jobs.
“The only good Republican was Abraham Lincoln,” Hampton said.
Hospitality major Brittany Bradley, 25, supports Sanders because she took an online test, and it showed that they shared the same views on many issues.
Bradley said that the Democrats seem to be more for the “underdog” and poor people. She would like to see the minimum wage raised.
Forest Park general transfer student Najma Sherzoy, 19, supports Sanders because she thinks his positions “make sense.” She agrees that it’s unfair for so much new wealth to go to the top 1 percent and that it’s hurting the middle class.
“It’s a new era for elections, with all the personality,” said Sherzoy, who considers herself a Democrat.
Three candidates are running in the Democratic Party primary. Besides Clinton and Sanders, the third is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Fourteen candidates are vying for the Republican Party nomination. They are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov.
Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Carly Fiorina, chairman of the non-profit philanthropic organization Good360 and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New York Gov. George Pataki, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Trump and Carson.
There’s one Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate in 2002 and 2010.
Dozens of issues are being discussed in the campaign, including the economy, immigration, health care, terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, Syria and its refuges, taxes, income and wealth inequality, the minimum wage, college access, Social Security and other entitlements, money in politics, climate change, racial discrimination, LGBT rights and veterans affairs.
Biology major Brian Johnson, 34, thinks the new president’s top priorities should be creating jobs, making higher education affordable and getting the country out of debt. But he thinks many candidates are more worried about their public image than the issues.
Johnson belongs to no political party. Some years, he agrees with the Republicans and some years it’s the Democrats.
Several students commented on the weaknesses and pomposity of billionaire businessman Donald Trump, now polling second to neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson for the Republican Party nomination.
Forest Park nursing major Ben Stanton, 61, said Trump doesn’t seem to relate to the people he wants to vote for him. Stanton sees himself as a Democrat because he shares the party’s values.
Hospitality major Joe Lappi, 65, considers himself an Independent. He doesn’t care which party he’s voting for as long as the candidate is best for the country.
“The elections are a farce, like looking at a circus with Donald Trump out there,” he said. “… Clinton’s going to get it because she’s got the pull.”