Election sparks interest
November 7, 2016
When sophomore Anika Hanson finished voting in the mock election, she noticed it sparked conversation among students.
“I heard a lot more students talk about the Presidential candidates and the Constitutional amendment,” Hanson said. “I think it had positive effects because now people are learning about other candidates and what they stand for.”
According to social studies teacher and mock election coordinator, Carly Kregness, Park participated in the first ever state-run high school mock election, Students Vote 2016, where students voted for candidates who will appear on the ballot Nov. 8.
“The students in the school voted for who they would choose and we did it for President, Congress for the 5th district, the two state offices for the State Senator for District 46 and the state representative for District 46,” Kregness said. “There is also a Constitutional amendment for the state of Minnesota on the ballot this year and so students voted on that, too.”
Hanson said the mock election helped students feel their views were heard.
“I feel like kids are going to think that their opinions matter more because (the school is) asking for what kids think,” Hanson said.
Kregness said the Presidential election resulted in Clinton winning 65.5 percent of student votes, followed by Trump with 11.5 percent. The third party candidates each won less than 5 percent of the vote.
“People guessed that Clinton would win because this is a DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) heavy district, because the Democrat most often wins in St. Louis Park in general,” Kregness said. “That was the most likely scenario.”
Hanson said the results of the mock election interested her because the presidential race has sparked a lot of controversy.
“I feel like it is more of a controversial election this year and (the State) wanted to get students’ opinions,” Hanson said. “I liked how they were getting the school’s opinions and I think it will be cool to see all the different schools’ (opinions) in the state.”
Kregness said she noticed many students arrived unprepared to vote in many of the down-ballot races, and hoped this election raised students’ awareness of smaller elections happening around them.
“A lot of people walked into our mock election and knew who they wanted for President but did not know anything about the Constitutional amendment or maybe one of that State representative elections,” Kregness said. “I think that that’s really important for people to be prepared to vote for other races and try to be informed.”
Ideas stem from parents
University of Minnesota assistant political science professor Dan Myers said one of the biggest influences on developing a child’s political viewpoint is their parents.
“The biggest influence is definitely the parents,” Myers said. “If you want to know one thing about what an 18-year old’s political affiliation is, then the one piece of information you want to know is the parent’s political affiliation.”
Senior Dotan Appelbaum said as a child he identified with his parents’ political party because that was the only party he was exposed to.
“My mom is very left wing, my dad is probably center-left,” Appelbaum said. “For a while I didn’t really care. I guess I thought I was a Democrat or whatever because that’s what everyone seemed to be.”
Sophomore Evelyn Nelson said politics had little effect on her life until this year.
“We never really mentioned politics in our family,” Nelson said. “It just wasn’t something we were all interested in,” Nelson said. “Throughout the year, I have become more interested in what’s happening around us and so has my family.”
Freshman Mara Sanchez said although others influence her, she seems to most connect with her parents’ political ideas.
“I’ve always also let my friends and the people I hang out with influence me,” Sanchez said. “I believe what my mom believes, how the country should be based on a frame of love,” Sanchez said. “That’s something she passed down to me.”
Nelson said she progressed her political views by surrounding herself with like-minded people.
“I am pretty liberal and I agree with most of the Democratic views,” Nelson said. “Throughout middle school and especially in high school, I have surrounded myself with people that also lean toward the liberal side of politics.”
Junior Gisele Villagrana Salazar said she feels it’s important to develop individual ideas.
“People should really think about (politics) for themselves and not adopt their parents’ views, just adopting your parents’ views won’t benefit you.” Villagrana Salazar said. “If you genuinely think your parents views are good and agree then that’s fine, but you should be able to think about it for yourself and make your own views.”
According to Myers, uninformed decisions can pose a significant danger to the voting population.
“I think it is a bad sign if we’re not thinking about the issues more deeply in a broader sense, not just what you’re voting on,” Myers said. “I also think it’s a bad sign if it means you lose your ability to see the other side, or see those who disagree with you as confident, well meaning adults.”
Views clash within family
History teacher Scott Miller said as a child, he lived in a household where politics sparked many political arguments.
“I can’t talk to my dad now about politics,” Miller said. “We used to intellectually spar a lot, and I really enjoyed it actually, but he has gotten to be way more in the direction of his political party.”
Nelson said although her parents have generally held liberal beliefs, her father’s viewpoint has changed, creating political clashes within her family.
“(My dad) doesn’t approve of Hillary’s ideas or beliefs and therefore wants to vote for Donald Trump. I personally don’t approve of Trump and what he stands for at all, and I can’t really see at all why my dad does, since he has been liberal for so long,” Nelson said. “It seems foolish to vote for someone who is against everything you believe just because you don’t like the person on ‘your side.’”
Following his freshman year mock senate, junior Jack Dooley said the issue of abortion sparked a heavy political debate in his household.
“I went home and told my mom about it and she kind of forced out her political viewpoint on it,” Dooley said. “I tried to voice mine and she came back at me pretty hard.”
Miller said the polarization of the political sides has made discussions at home difficult.
“It’s gotten to be tough in the last five to seven years with political conversations,” Miller said. “I think the country has become so much more polarized, and I’m experiencing that in these conversations.”
Myers said political decisions may be obvious for voters because of increasing party polarization.
“I think in general today we are much more polarized along partisan lines than we have been in recent history,” Myers said. “It sometimes makes the decision pretty easy.”
According to Appelbaum, a political argument in his house elicited frustration.
“A lot of (the situation) was disagreeing about how we saw the situation, what was the truth to us,” Appelbaum said. “That was frustrating, being told that you’re wrong about what the world is.”
Miller said although it is frustrating, family arguments can increase knowledge about politics.
“I would say you’re going to be a smarter individual if you try to understand the logic of the other side,” Miller said.
According to Myers, origins of differences between parental and child political views is unclear, but they may be advantageous.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a very clear understanding of how (different political views with parents) affect people throughout their lives,” Myers said. “You might hope at the very least that would help the student understand the opposite perspective and be able to put a human face on those views.”