Analysis

Hilltop Extra: “Election 2016: America’s Favorite Sitcom” Full Interviews

In our previous article “Election 2016: America’s Favorite Sitcom,” we were unable to include all of the parts of the three interviews due to article length limitations. So, we decided to publish the full transcripts on the website for you. The Hilltopics staff would like to thank the three people interviewed for this article, and we hope you enjoy!

Mr. Andrew Forrester: Honors Humanities Professor and PhD Candidate

Alec Mason: Many have said that this election has been one of the most controversial in history, do you agree with that?

Andrew Forrester: No, I’m not a historian but the level of discourse we have engaged in politically this year has been lowered. Anyone familiar with earlier election cycles would realize that politics is almost always dirty.

AM: A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that only 27% of citizens aged 18–29 support Trump. Comparing this to the 38% of people in the same age group that support Clinton and the 28% that support a third party candidate like Johnson or Stein, why do you think Trump’s support among millennials is so low?

AF: Millennials are more likely to be democratic or left-leaning—or at least left of center. Generally, support for the GOP is from Evangelical circles, and these seem to come from an older group of pro-government religious people. Additionally, I think that millennials are an ironic group of people, and Trump is just fuel to the fire of ironic mockery.

AM: What effect, if any, are third party candidates like Johnson and Stein having on this election?

AF: I think that they are seen as—if not a viable option to win—at least a viable option to communicate distaste for the two parties, for the problems in the two parties, and for the corruption in the two parties. And so, if nothing else, I think they give people an outlet to express their dissatisfaction with the current standing of politics. How are they affecting it? I would say that they are possibly at the very least diminishing the lead by which the winning candidate will win, but I don’t know if they are necessarily making an ideological impact.

AM: Another recent Pew Research study showed that while 30% of Clinton supporters are pessimistic about the future of the United States, a staggering 68% of Trump supporters thought the same. What does this reveal about the differences in rhetoric between the two major candidates?

AF: I think that the entire Trump campaign is based on a cloudy dissatisfaction with the way things are. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of concrete policy points for things that need to be fixed or going to be fixed. I think Hillary Clinton has something like thirty policy points on her website whereas Trump has like six. I think that Trump taps into a narrative that appeals to a generation of people who believe that something is broken and needs to be fixed, and generally what they mean by “something is broken” is that their lives have not panned out the way they wanted them to, and they blame that not on themselves, but on other people. And that generally leads to the idea that people are changing what made America great in some sense even though what made America great has always been progress, change, diversity of people, and diversity of opinions.

AM: What is your advice to the students of Southern Methodist University as many of them prepare to vote in their very first presidential election?

AF: To research! I think that’s it. (laughs)

Disclaimer: Transcribed from audio recording of interview. Some filler words and phrases were omitted.


Heather Smith: First Year Pre-Law Student from Houston, Virginia-Snider Commons

Alec Mason: Many have said that this election has been one of the most controversial in history, do you agree with that?

Heather Smith: I agree that, in this day and age, information travels a lot faster than it did in earlier elections. Since it is controversial that issues travel faster, and there is a larger portion of people that are voting today than there were in earlier years. Yes, I do think that this a more controversial election than previous ones.

AM: A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that only 27% of citizens aged 18–29 support Trump. Comparing this to the 38% of people in the same age group that support Clinton and the 28% that support a third party candidate like Johnson or Stein, why do you think Trump’s support among millennials is so low?

HS: I think that teenagers and young adults tend to be more liberal than they were because the idea of freedom and expressing yourself has become more important, and generally speaking liberals tend to be more Democratic or Independent than Republican.

AM: What effect, if any, are third party candidates like Johnson and Stein having on this election?

HS: In this election, people are not generally happy with the two main candidates, so the third parties have a greater shot at getting larger support from people.

AM: Another recent Pew Research study showed that while 30% of Clinton supporters are pessimistic about the future of the United States, a staggering 68% of Trump supporters thought the same. What does this reveal about the differences in rhetoric between the two major candidates?

HS: Trump is promoting the idea that a lot of things need to be fixed in America, and that things are really bad, and that we need dramatic change. Versus Clinton who is more for incremental change, and it’s a little less dramatic than what Trump supports in the whole “banning all Muslims from coming to the United States.” It kind of spreads fear versus hope for the future in my opinion.

AM: What is your advice to the students of Southern Methodist University as many of them prepare to vote in their very first presidential election?

HS: I think you really should educate yourself and not do what someone else tells you to do voting-wise. Really look at the candidates, see what their ideals are, [and] see how that fits with you. And really you should vote; it’s your government even if you feel that this isn’t the best election. It’s still—for many of us—our first time to vote. And so, you should do it.

Disclaimer: Transcribed from audio recording of interview. Some filler words and phrases were omitted.


Aabid Shivji: Debate Team President, Ware Commons Resident Assistant

Alec Mason: Many have said that this election has been one of the most controversial in history, do you agree with that?

Aabid Shivji: I think there have always been controversial elections, but people really openly decry this election because both major party candidates are representing things that the American people feel are repugnant. The advent of mass media through the internet and television have added to the amount of controversy “exposed” about each candidate to the public, meaning that as we continue to move forward with elections, anything a candidate has done wrong in the publicly viewable arena is going to be viewed with a larger and larger microscope as politics becomes more viral. I do think, however, that there is something to be said about how a celebrity candidate can heighten the influence of these variables.

AM: A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that only 27% of citizens aged 18–29 support Trump. Comparing this to the 38% of people in the same age group that support Clinton and the 28% that support a third party candidate like Johnson or Stein, why do you think Trump’s support among millennials is so low?

AS: I think young people in general, and I may be wrong about this, feel like the “big guy” is a problematic figure, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on. This would explain the interesting percentage that supports a 3rd party candidacy. Trump’s support being low, conversely, is an indicator of younger people still being around people with so many different interests. Being new in the workforce, being in college, and other new experiences faced by people in the age group specified involve a lot of interaction with those who don’t share their viewpoints. This means that younger people don’t have access to the same echo chamber that adults over 30 have developed in their place of work, friend circles, and social spaces that allow views such as Trump’s to become acceptable and commonplace, in my opinion.

AM: What effect, if any, are third party candidates like Johnson and Stein having on this election?

AS: Third party candidates are definitely taking votes away from the major parties in this election. However, I feel that their lack of success even when so many people hate both candidates speaks to the electoral system in the United States so heavily concentrated in having 2 parties at a time. Sure, Johnson’s support has started to show inklings of a possible transition out of power for the Good Old Party and a come up for “Libertarians,” but generally this still displays that more than 2 parties can have power in our system at one time.

AM: Another recent Pew Research study showed that while 30% of Clinton supporters are pessimistic about the future of the United States, a staggering 68% of Trump supporters thought the same. What does this reveal about the differences in rhetoric between the two major candidates?

AS: I think this poll is indicative of the nature of the different sides of the spectrum coming out of 8 years of “liberal” control of the executive branch. Democrats are less willing to be troubled about the future of America because they think the liberal agenda is gaining traction and has supplanted conservatism as what seems logical, and that the continued election of liberals because the conservative candidates say ridiculous things will lead to more policies that they like. Conversely, Trump supporters are demanding, largely, a return to the “good old days” of the Reagan administration and earlier times by virtue of wanting the old way of government to come back, as is the underlying justification of conservatism. For them, because America has changed so much since the days they romanticize, and future seems to be a continuation of the liberal agenda, they would be more pessimistic about what the country is going to look like moving forward.

AM: What is your advice to the students of Southern Methodist University as many of them prepare to vote in their very first presidential election?

AS: My advice to SMU students would be to research their options for the Congressional election because I almost feel that the outcome of that process will be much more indicative of where we go for the next couple of years than who wins the presidency. This presidential election is one where, regardless of who wins, the checks and balances between the branches are going to constantly be exercised, and so the full scope of who can be elected should be examined.

Disclaimer: Interview conducted via email correspondence. No omissions were made.


These interviews were conducted by Alec Mason. Click here to see more of Alec’s work.
Special thanks to Mr. Forrester, Ms. Smith, and Mr. Shivji for their participation.

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