Clubs react to the presidential campaign
Voting citizens in Washington state had until Tuesday, May 24, to mail or drop their ballots in for the 2016 Presidential Primaries — though their votes may not have mattered much. Three political clubs on campus, Young Americans for Liberty, Western Libertarians and Socialist Alternatives have followed a race that is seemingly going to come down to presumptive nominees for both parties, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Young Americans for Liberty
Sean Rita started the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Western after seeing a need for a conservative movement on campus. Rita described the club’s ideologies as socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
“There are some Conservatives and Libertarians on campus that wouldn’t have come forward if there wasn’t this club,” Rita said.
Reactions to the Young Americans for Liberty club have not been 100 percent positive. Two people protested and someone else took down their flyers for their “Guns Aren’t That Scary” event, Rita said.
“There are some people who are being way too over-sensitive, you can’t really just have a different viewpoint on campus, they want this liberal campus utopia,” Rita said. “To me that’s ridiculous that you can’t hear someone else’s point of view and you get so mad that you take down someone’s flyers.”
Young Americans for Liberty cannot endorse any candidates officially. However, Rita said he has been both a Democrat and a Conservative in the past and currently supports Ron Paul.
“Ron Paul basically changed my life and my outlook on politics and also my morality,” Rita said.
“Trump is not a huge friend of liberty. But on the flipside neither is Bernie.”
On the 2016 presidential race, Rita said it’s simply a mess.
“I supported Rand Paul at the beginning,” Rita said. “I always see those Bernie stickers around Bellingham. I understand the appeal of Bernie Sanders, that he’s going to have the government save you from all the evil rich people.”
Rita said he views Sanders as similar to Trump, and that he is telling people what they want to hear.
“It’s not the youth’s fault that we’re growing up in such problematic times, but Bernie knows that he’s playing into these people’s desires for free college and free healthcare,” Rita said.
It’s a misconception that members of the Young Americans for Liberty club support Trump, Rita said.
“Trump is not a huge friend of liberty,” Rita said. “But on the flipside neither is Bernie.”
In the race to November, Rita said he wants people to know there are more than two ideologies to ascribe to, and a third party is an option. Rita predicted that Trump will get the Republican nomination and the Democratic National Committee will push Bernie out of the Democratic nomination.
Rita will be voting for the Libertarian nominee, he said.
The right to free speech must also include hate speech, Rita said.
”We need to allow these people to speak because that’s how we’re going to prove them wrong,” Rita said. “Instead of just suppressing their hateful ideas, we have to let them speak, because then we can use their arguments against them.”
President of the Western Libertarians Katrina Haffner said she had been a Republican in the past, but became disappointed with Republicans in the party. Haffner aligns with the Libertarian Party, specifically on issues of drug policy and corporate welfare, meaning the government offering welfare assistance to corporations.
The biggest misconception about Libertarians, Haffner said, is that people think Libertarians see the government as ineffective or inadequate.
“Just because they don’t think the government should be involved in a certain issue does not mean that they’re saying something is good or bad,” Haffner said. “For example, many Libertarians believe that business owners should be able to discriminate, and that’s not because these Libertarians are racist or bigots themselves.”
Haffner said if people knew a business discriminated, a boycott would be an option.
On the presidential race, Haffner said she was disappointed with the presidential choices even in 2012, and this year she said is disappointed with all of the mainstream candidates.
“I guess I never had much hope for this presidential election,” Haffner said. “A lot of us were expecting early on that Hillary Clinton would run.”
Haffner said a big issue with Clinton is her poor track record in supporting foreign involvement in other countries.
“A lot of people call her a war hawk and we stand by that,” Haffner said.
“I guess I never had much hope for this presidential election. A lot of us were expecting early on that Hillary Clinton would run.”
Haffner said Western Libertarians are not endorsing any specific candidate, and are unofficially against both Trump and Clinton. Members of the group are looking to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and other Green Party alternatives.
“I wish we would have seen more candidates like Rand Paul doing well,” Haffner said. “Personally I was not pro Rand Paul, but he was definitely better than many of the other Republican candidates. He was talking about how we need criminal justice reform and the effects [of] our current justice system.”
Haffner said she has problems with Sanders, but she believes the election will become a Trump versus Clinton race.
“I can’t make myself decide between the two and I don’t think that’s a fair choice for many Americans,” Haffner said.
As far as policy issues go, Haffner said it’s hard to tell where she disagrees with Trump because of his constant change of stance on the issues.
“One thing I can say for sure is that he is for a lot of things that are illegal and that are absolutely against the Bill of Rights,” Haffner said. “For example, he has said many anti-First Amendment things such as shutting down reporters and limiting free speech,” Haffner said.
Haffner said many in the Libertarian party despise Sanders because of his economic views.
“Free college, for example, sounds good, but then many Libertarians question the economics of that,” she said.
Haffner said Libertarians question if it would be moral for the taxes received from the people to go toward paying for someone else’s education.
“I think what may be the most interesting about this election is a [potential] third-candidate party rise,” Haffner said.
Western alumnus Ryan Reilly is the Whatcom County organizer of the Socialist Alternative club on campus. He acts as a liaison between the national organization and the Western club and the Whatcom County branch of Socialist Alternatives.
Reilly said he sees the 2016 race as historic.
“It’s the first time that we’ve seen, in a very long time, outsider candidates have an echo in the electorate,” Reilly said.
Socialist Alternatives, Reilly said, view Trump as a racist and a misogynist.
Reilly also said Trump supporters attacked immigrants in the street in the name of Trump.
“We’re really seeing an uprising, in a way, from the electorate, in saying business as usual amongst the two parties is not going to be tolerated anymore,” Reilly said. “We see that in a way with Sanders, who again, is making quite an echo.”
“I think people have just had enough. Income inequality doesn’t have to be a fact of life.”
Reilly said the current presidential race finds its origins from the economic crash of 2008, and the lack of recovery for the working class in the U.S., followed by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“We’re working longer hours, we’re working for less money, life is tough still,” Reilly said. “I think people have just had enough. Income inequality doesn’t have to be a fact of life.”
Reilly said the 2016 presidential campaign is, in many ways, just the beginning of a bigger movement.
“When it comes to Sanders, we support his call for a political revolution,” Reilly said. “We have a major party candidate that’s calling for a revolution against the billionaire class.”
Socialist Alternatives also support Sanders’ policies for $15 minimum wage and universal health care.
“As far as Hillary goes, there’s probably very little that we would support,” Reilly said.
Going forward, the Socialist Alternatives, with the help of Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, have been initiating a campaign to call upon Sanders to run through November, as an Independent, if necessary.
“We don’t necessarily think he would win if he did that, but it’s important to offer that left alternative to a Donald Trump,” Reilly said.
Reilly said Trump attracts the anti-establishment and people fed up with the state of the government currently, which is why it would be important for Sanders to stay in the race.
“He really has the genesis of a movement behind his campaign,” Reilly said. “It would definitely be a wasted effort and movement if he were to lose the primary to Hillary Clinton, which, in our view, he is likely to do, and then get behind Hillary Clinton.”