By Cody Jones, News Staff Writer
Republican politicians and donors recently began backing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and some students at UNC Asheville are conflicted about the implications.
As the general election draws to a close, some high-profile Republicans, like Sen. Jeff Flake and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, said they oppose Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump because he is too extreme and does not represent Republican principles.
Some Republicans who oppose Trump, like Rep. Richard Hanna and former Sen. Larry Pressler, said they will support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to keep him out of the White House.
Elli Cole, a sophomore psychology student from Fresno, California, said she is glad the political parties are working together. Cole said she identifies more as a Democrat.
“It’s good to see people coming together and not sticking to those strong political values, moderation can be good,” Cole said. “I’m happy to see that, but the division is definitely growing. The Trump fans are way out on one side and the Hillary fans are way out on the other.”
Jessica Odette, a sophomore atmospheric science student from Waterville, Ohio, said she is happy to see the parties working together, too. Odette said she is a Republican.
“I don’t think people who identify with one political party should vote for their party just because it’s their party,” Odette said. “I think they should vote for who they think is the most qualified to be president and I respect that.”
Odette said the two political parties still have some work to do when it comes to bipartisanship.
“There are certainly some things that both parties need to work at agreeing on,” Odette said. “The Zika virus, for example, I don’t really understand why there would be a divide with that. It’s a terrible disease.”
Cole said she has concerns about the role of money in politics.
“I think it’s awful. I really think big businesses need to get out of politics, their interests are not my interests,” Cole said. “They’re not working-class or middle-class interests. They are filling their pockets and destroying the environment at the same time.”
During the primaries, Clinton’s campaign began reaching out to a divided Republican Party in order to secure support in the form of endorsements and financial contributions. Among those supporters are donors to the Bush family and millionaires who previously fundraised for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run.
Odette said money in politics is normal.
“Everything revolves around money and now it’s basically whoever has the most money wins,” Odette said. “Between Trump and Clinton, they both have a lot of support and a lot of donors, so I think it’ll be a tight race to the end.”
Cole said she worries Clinton may be influenced by donations.
“I don’t know how she could not be beholden,” Cole said. “If somebody gave me $100,000, it would probably be pretty hard to tell them, ‘Nah, I’m not going to do anything for you.’”
Republican members of Congress and former administrative officials expect Clinton to offer access and influence over her administration in exchange for their support if she is elected.
Former Connecticut Republican Congressman Christopher Shays told Politico, “It wouldn’t just be in token positions. I think her motivation would be this would enable her to be a better president.”
Peyton Walker, a junior music student from Kernersville, said money should not be in politics.
“It’s worrying. I’ve heard and read a lot of different things about Hillary and all of the things that have happened to people who oppose her,” Walker said. “So I definitely don’t support just giving her even more money to continue. That’s all I see right now is corruption and manipulation of the system.”
Dana Schlanger, a senior literature student from Yorktown Heights, New York, said Clinton is taking advantage of the divide within the Republican Party.
“I can understand why she is trying to appeal to the Republican base, because she does understand that there are Republicans who refuse to support Donald Trump, so I’m not surprised she’s pandering,” Schlanger said. “I see it as her being an extremely moderate candidate, she’s not really left-wing, but she is more left-wing than Trump.”