My hometown of Forest Grove recently became the center of a heated debate. When two kids hung a banner in the cafeteria of Forest Grove High School saying “Build That Wall,” the backlash was phenomenal. The story spread like wildfire throughout schools in neighboring cities, and a protest was formed outside of the school, demanding for the kids to be expelled. These kids suffered no severe punishment – and they shouldn’t.
I understand the backlash. I understand that in a school district made up of a large percentage of hispanics, the community might question these events. It is important to note, however, that these kids were expressing the campaign slogan of a presidential nominee. The problem with punishing these kids is that the words they wrote are views shared by millions of Americans and have been the campaign promise of someone who may be this nation’s president.
For high schoolers, the most important personality trait a politician can have is trust. Sure, adults care about this as well, but for youth it is paramount that they can trust their candidate. This is because we are raised in a society that expects and even forces kid to trust adults. If you’re 60 years old, it is less necessary that you trust adults then it is for an 18 year old to trust adults.
This is why the youth came out in droves for Bernie Sanders. Bernie is the grandpa who spoils his grandchildren not with candy and treats as is the stereotype but instead with free healthcare and education. He stands as a model citizen, speaking out against corruption, never aligning himself with ‘big money’ but instead running his campaign off of pocket change. With an average campaign donation of under 30 dollars, Bernie was the person young people could trust.
But the Bernie days are over. And those who aren’t members of “Bernie or Bust” must pick a new person to back.
Hillary Clinton has been considered the least trustworthy presidential candidate of recent. Between deleting emails, giving private speeches behind closed doors, and getting questions for of debates before they take place, youth is resisting voting for “Her.” Many say they will vote for her because they want to see a woman in the White House. However, the young vote cares little about this. Preferring one gender over another is something done by past generations. In fact the closest thing to youth’s center of concern is trust. It is in this category that Hillary finds herself losing the votes of teens.
Although he says it like it is, speaking from the heart, and is never censored, Trump is far from trustworthy. He flip flops. He lies on camera. With hidden tapes and suggestive tweets, Trump is far from perfect. His character is across the board repulsive. The youth knows they aren’t voting for a decent person. However, when he speaks, people want to be able to trust him. He uses hyperbole to describe how bad the world is now and how good it will be when he gets elected. He talks in soundbites, dominating the media that the youth consume so much of. And in these sound bites, he comes off as trustworthy.
Build that Wall. Take this quote at face value and it reflects perfectly the interests of teen voters. It is simple and straightforward and yet it is Trump’s entire plan for how to deal with foreign affairs. Youth look through the racism and find the nugget of truth, simplicity, and honesty.
So when kids make a poster reflecting an idea that is shared by millions of Americans, retold in every major newspaper, and tweeted around the world, what they are doing isn’t being racist. Instead, it is arguing for public policy they support, public policy that is honest and genuine. It is become of this that it makes no sense to punish kids. When millions of adults are voting for this slogan, it makes it accessible for kids to demonstrate their support for it as well.