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Posted by: Pupils | 14 November 2016

US Presidential Election

Last term’s EU referendum and this week’s US presidential election have given our students great opportunities to learn about democracy both in Europe and the USA. On 8th November, the day American voters cast their ballots for a new president, Y9 and Y10 students met together to discuss how they would vote if they were American citizens. During the previous week’s ETS lessons, Y9 students had researched the American election system, the platforms of the two parties and the personal appeal (or not) of the main candidates, so they were well prepared to present some of the key issues to their Y10 partners. Discussions ranged from the candidates’ stance on gun control, Russia, abortion, same-sex marriage, to their personal values and temperament, and their role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces with access to the nuclear weapons’ codes.

Students were then invited to say who they would vote for and why. 29% said that they would not vote for either: “They’re both as bad as each other.” “They both have views or lifestyles I really disagree with.” “I can’t put the fate of America in either of the two candidates’ hands.” Two students decided they would vote for the independent candidate, “as a protest vote” or because “neither of the other two deserve to be president”. Nearly a quarter of the students supported Donald Trump, all citing his stance on marriage and abortion that they felt was more in line with traditional Christian sexual morality. However, 35% of students decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, mainly because she was not Trump: “She is the better of two evils”; “There are more good things about her than Trump”, “I don’t particularly trust her but I don’t trust Trump at all”. One student commented: “I don’t like the way Donald Trump talks about women”, while another approved of the Democrat candidate’s policy on legalising the status of 11 million immigrants.

Throughout the process of researching and discussing the issues at stake, students showed themselves willing to consider other points of view carefully and to modify their views as new information came to light. If only all political debate in the adult world were conducted so respectfully and thoughtfully!