Vivekae Kim and Kennith Gonzalez
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Vivekae Kim (left) at a Democratic Party office in Chicago, Illinois; Kennith Gonzalez (right) at a Republican Party office in Hackensack, New Jersey

CREDIT: Bob Stefko (Vivekae Kim); HollenderX2 (Kennith Gonzalez)

Choosing Sides

Two teens explain who they’re supporting for president—and why they chose to get involved

Why I’m For Hillary Clinton

BY VIVEKAE KIM, 17, Chicago, illinois

What it means to be an American has changed and continues to change: By 2055, it’s projected that the United States won’t have any single racial or ethnic majority. 

For a nation founded on the concepts of equality and diversity—one that’s always had “minorities”—this represents a monumental shift. It’s amazing that many of us will experience these changes in our lifetimes. But it also poses a challenge: How can we ensure we’re simultaneously a diverse society and an inclusive one? 

Hillary Clinton believes in a country that lives up to our founding motto: E pluribus unum—out of many, one—and that’s why I’m with her. We need a leader who embraces all of our nation and all its racial, gender, and cultural diversity.

Clinton understands that issues of racial justice are inextricably connected to criminal justice reform, voting rights, gun control, access to higher education, and comprehensive immigration reform. She understands how to effectively govern. Her judgment, temperament, and understanding of the intricacies of policy are what we need to move our nation forward. 

‘Clinton believes in a country that lives up to our founding motto: E pluribus unum.’

As the Illinois chair of High School Democrats of America, I’ve been able to meet and work with fellow Democrats. It’s been inspiring to discover so many people who are passionate about the same issues I am. It’s been incredibly rewarding to help mobilize fellow high schoolers to hold voter registration drives, community phone banks, and other election events. 

But I’ve also been out in the field, knocking on doors to gauge support for Democrats and recruit volunteers. Over the summer, I made hundreds of phone calls to find out which way voters were leaning and to invite them to volunteer and show their support at local events. I’ve found that being active in politics is an essential avenue of societal change—a way to continually push for those same foundational ideals of equality and justice that we, as a nation, have yet to completely achieve. 

This election is critically important for the American people. Knowing that my daily work for Hillary Clinton can help ensure that our nation fulfills its promise is incredibly empowering.

Why I’m For Donald Trump

BY KENNITH GONZALEZ, 15, Union City, New jersey

After years of watching the news, last year I decided that simply watching was not enough. The issues of terrorism, unemployment, and illegal immigration were simply too important for me not to get involved. 

My parents are Cuban immigrants who came here in search of the American Dream. They risked all they had so their only son could be afforded every opportunity this great country has to offer, and I can’t let their sacrifice go to waste. 

I quickly realized that the candidate who was addressing these top three issues most passionately was Donald Trump. 

No one else showed a higher level of energy than Trump. I admire the fact that he’s beholden to no one and mostly uses his own money rather than funds from special interest groups. Listening to him speak at two rallies, I saw that Trump loves this country. He doesn’t pander to certain ethnic groups. He wants to make America great again for all Americans determined to work for what they want. 

Last December, I started a local chapter of National Teenage Republicans in Hudson County, New Jersey, where I live. Since then, I’ve spent months recruiting fellow students to join the group and working to elect Republicans to local offices. Volunteering at Trump’s headquarters in New York City during the primary, we made phone calls encouraging every registered Republican to vote.

‘Trump will make the country not only stronger, but safer.’

As chairman of the New Jersey Teenage Republicans, I’m working to spread conservative ideals throughout the state and get more teenagers involved. Over the summer, I went to street fairs handing out candidates’ flyers and Trump lawn signs.

I’ve found many people who share my values. The idea that young people all identify as liberal is a myth. If it weren’t for Trump’s candidacy, I wouldn’t feel so involved in this election—a historic one that will determine so much for our future. And as much as I’m proud of my Cuban heritage, I’m an American. That’s why I think the issue of securing our borders is the most important one in this election.  

All of Trump’s ideas will make the country not only stronger, but safer. In 2016, many young people want to “Make America Great Again,” and I’m doing all I can to make sure that the American people elect the only candidate left who’s fit for the job: Donald Trump.

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