If I Could Vote For President
Alexis Joy Viloria | Maui High SchoolWith the presidential election nearing closer and closer as each day passes, Americans all over are wondering who they trust to uphold the values of this country while benefiting all citizens. Those who are pondering who should bear the power that leading this country entails have every ability to choose who gets their vote. But what about the members of this country, whose futures depend on the president, that can’t vote?
The younger ranks of this country are getting more and more involved in politics as many decisions of the government up to this point have undoubtedly affected their futures. Witnessing the effects of this pandemic, racial injustices, and impacts on their education, present and future, this generation of youth is empowered to take matters into their own hands, encouraging all people who are eligible to vote. Two concerned high school students expand on their hopes for this country’s next leader.
Maui High School Junior Altene Tumacder shares his words regarding this country’s leadership. Though we are still currently being led by the winner of the last election, Altene says he was too young to fathom the importance of political involvement but knew where he stood politically. “Although I wasn’t very politically active back then, I believed that the outcome of the last presidential election was a defeat. I was in the seventh grade and knew very little of the two candidates, Hillary and Trump.”
Though currently unable to vote, Altene has a set of principles to keep in mind for who he advocates for as the forefront of our country. “The qualities I look for in a president are humbleness, thoughtfulness, understanding, resilience, and education. I also believe a president should care for the people of their country. A president should not disregard the conflicts that occur in our country. Rather, a president should recognize, assess and evaluate the problems in our country.”
What are those conflicts Altene sees? Everything from racial discrimination to healthcare to higher education. “There is a payload of issues that the president should address.” Amidst the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Altene sees the addressing of racial injustices as a crucial action. “Of the many, I think that the president should address the immense racism that is present in our country. We the people witness an extensive amount of hate. With the leadership we need, our country will prosper.”
An officer of his school’s pre-professional medical club, HOSA, it is natural for him to advocate for healthcare rights. “Another issue that I would want the president to address is healthcare. Many citizens struggle to receive essential healthcare and I feel that a president should seek ways to give healthcare to all.”
Wanting to go into the medical field, Altene also finds being able to afford a good education to do so is of mass importance as well. “I also believe that the president should address the expensive higher education tuitions. Many students are not able to afford college causing them to turn to other options such as joining the military or getting a job right out of high-school. With free higher education, many students would be able to fulfill the dreams they have had regardless of their financial situation.”
For all of the eligible voters of the Filipino community, Altene leaves these thoughts, prompting everybody to keep the future generations in mind. “To the eligible voters of the Filipino community, as a member of this country’s future, I ask that you make your vote count for a leader that is capable of stabilizing our country. Using your vote gives us the hope of having a brighter and successful future.”
Junior Kalem Ringlen, also at Maui High School, shares his take on the presidential elections. Looking back at the past election, Kalem remembers how he felt when President Trump was first elected. “Reflecting back to the last presidential election, I can vividly recall being in shock and mildly disappointed. As I was watching the results come out, I was almost certain that Hillary was going to win. It would’ve been empowering to see a woman in office for once, obtaining a position that no other woman acquired.” Though the election didn’t go in his favor, Kalem believes it is still the President’s right to serve the term he was elected for. “But we owe President Trump the opportunity to show his capabilities of running this country.”
Acknowledging the results of the election, Kalem can’t help but imagine where the country would be like now if it had gone otherwise. “To this day, I still wonder what it would’ve been like if we gave Hillary the chance to define the fate of this country,” Kalem says.
If it were up to Kalem, he would pick a president who has “any experience in politics, and if so, their successes or failures, seeing how they responded to such defeats in their careers.” Caring less about political parties, Kalem puts importance on a figure with a deferential character who will advocate for every American. He wants “Someone who can put their country before their party, whether they are a democrat or republican. They do what best fits the people’s interests and needs. Also want to see that they show humbleness, instead of allowing their ego to dictate their judgment to see what best suits them not us.”
Looking at the effects of COVID-19 on the United States, Kalem wishes for a president who will enforce guidelines to take the pandemic by its reigns and return the country to normalcy. “First and foremost, I would appreciate it if the president addresses this COVID-19 pandemic diligently and appropriately. Currently, we feel completely hopeless as we see cases increasing. In addition, people aren’t taking this seriously and aren’t following health protocols. We need to enforce stricter laws so that we can reduce interaction, therefore decreasing the number of cases we have.” Alongside efforts to curb the effects of the pandemic, Kalem also would like a president who would make higher education more affordable, citing college’s steep price tag as the reason many students don’t strive to continue their education. “Affordable education would be convenient and encouraging to students who feel like they can’t go to school because they can’t afford it. Education is something I value but it’s discouraging to see the high expenses to attend college. It would be motivating to see more of this country’s youth continuing their education after high school due to more affordable education.”
Like Altene, Kalem also sees racial discrimination being a prominent issue in today’s society. “I also want a future where we as human beings feel comfortable in the body we’re in, without feeling we don’t fit society’s standards. I would highly appreciate if the future president shines a light on the racial discrimination that is occurring in our country right now.” As many continue to deny the presence of racism, Kalem encourages everybody to simply look around them and realize the effect that systemic racism has on groups of this diverse country, including our very own amid this pandemic. “Realizing that it’s an actual reality that’s occurring and that it’s been going on for too long, that it needs to come to an end!”
Kalem knows his stance on how our government has handled the pandemic and assesses how it will affect the upcoming elections. “Up to this point, I see that our current president isn’t fit for the job and that we gave him enough time to prove himself. If the current president doesn’t show adequate effort towards this pandemic, that would make people doubt his ability to run this country, reconsidering their vote, and giving another candidate an opportunity to assess this current situation.”
To any member of the Filipino community who is able to vote, Kalem also leaves his message. “Voting is an opportunity for you to use your voice and to demand change in this country.”
Though at this point in time, the country is very politically divided, it is no doubt every person should exercise their right to have a voice in this country’s future, no matter who they support or what they believe in. All that this new generation of Americans asks is you keep in mind their future, their life, and most importantly, the lives of every single American no matter their race, religion, orientation, or income. Vote on behalf of the future.
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes that education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Alexis Joy Viloria, a Senior at Maui High School. She is the founder and President of Maui High’s SaberScribes journalism club, and Vice President of the Silversword Chapter of the National Honor Society. Alexis is a part of Maui High’s air riflery team and is also a committed member of HOSA-Future Health Professionals as the Secondary Representative of the Hawai‘i HOSA State Council and a HOSA state gold medalist and international finalist. Alexis hopes to one day become a Pediatric Physician. She is the daughter of Alex and Juvy Viloria.