A Hillary Clinton supporter reacts as former Secretary of State Clinton enters the room for a speech in San Jose on May 26. Photo by Stephen de Ropp.
A Hillary Clinton supporter reacts as former Secretary of State Clinton enters the room for a speech in San Jose on May 26. Photo by Stephen de Ropp.

A deep and growing divide in U.S. voter ideology has shaped much of this presidential race, causing tension on all sides. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump are more disliked than any other candidates in recent history and most Americans, especially young people, expressed feeling an unprecedented frustration toward the presidential election — two-thirds of whom reported feeling helpless in the face of the election, according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Despite these feelings, young people could have one of the largest impacts on the presidential election. Those between the ages of 18 and 29 make up 31 percent of eligible voters.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the policies that will directly affect young voters:


Immigration has been one of the most contentious issues in this presidential race, making this election particularly personal for many U.S. voters.

Trump began his campaign with a strong stance against immigration. His flagship proposal has been to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico in an attempt to prevent crime and drugs from coming into America, despite the fact that 40 percent of undocumented immigrants arrive with visas and overstay their allotted times.

Trump said if he becomes president, he will ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — but has since clarified that he would suspend all immigration from regions affected by terrorism.

This immigration plan would also require vetting all immigrants coming in the country “to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people.”

In Trump’s immigration plan, he said he wants to “prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people.”

Clinton plans to continue Obama’s legacy regarding immigration by defending DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which are executive actions that provide deferred action to undocumented people — this doesn’t grant them full legal status, but it ensures they are exempt from deportation.

Clinton would also allow immigrant families to buy into Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Continue developing the newly formed relationship with Cuba

Health Care

To understand the proposals of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump, it’s important to look at the context they’re being created in.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, is an attempt to address some of major problems of the healthcare system. The ACA primarily sought to increase the number of insured Americans by:

Increasing the government program Medicaid

Setting up health insurance marketplaces, or organizations set up to facilitate the purchase of health insurance with government-regulated health care plans and federal subsidies

Requiring health insurance by taxing those who didn’t have it

Ensuring that no one can be denied health care due to a pre-existing condition

An estimated 20 million people have been insured by the ACA since 2010, including more than 6 million young adults, in part because the ACA allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans for longer.

Health care spending is still on the rise though. In 2016 alone, the U.S. will spend an estimated $3.4 trillion on health care, according to California Health Care Foundation. While the ACA can be partially blamed for this cost increase, the ACA didn’t attempt to tackle health care spending and costs.

Trump said he will eliminate the ACA and replace it with “Health Savings Accounts (HSAs),” but the U.S. has used HSAs since 2003. He also said he would change the way Medicaid is funded to block grants for states to administer their own Medicaid programs like Medi-Cal here in California. He hopes to stimulate the market by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines — a common proposal endorsed by Republicans. He would also make all health insurance premiums tax deductible and repeal the new taxes created by the ACA, resulting in a plan that would mostly benefit those with high incomes.

Clinton would amend the ACA by offering a public option on insurance marketplaces, opening up state coverage to more people than just the elderly and poor, including expanding it to immigrants. She said she would incentivize states to expand Medicaid and make enrollment easier. And lastly, said she will defend access to reproductive health care and double funding for community health centers, including rural health clinics.


Trump was labeled by the Human Rights campaign as “dangerously out of step with the fair-minded majority of Americans who believe that LGBTQ people should be treated equally under the law.” Trump has consistently been an opponent of marriage equality since running, saying once in office he would undo the ruling of the Supreme Court. He expressed support for North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the controversial law that requires people to enter the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate. He promotes passing the “First Amendment Defense Act,” which allows businesses to refuse service to queer folks.

Clinton pledged to “support LGBT youth, parents and elders”. She was criticized in the past for having a wavering stance on gay marriage, especially when she ran against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but now campaigns as the candidate for underrepresented rights. In her platform she promises “she will protect LGBT rights by ending conversion therapy” and will select a Supreme Court Justice who will not undermine the same-sex ruling.


Climate change is one of the largest and most threatening forces to human life as it stands. According to the National Academy of Sciences, now is a crucial time to take action.

Past efforts to address climate change include the 2015 Paris Climate Summit where 190 countries, including the U.S., established a framework for battling climate change and the November 2016 Marrakech Climate Change Conference that implemented a threshold for enforcement.

Trump wants to dismantle the 2015 Paris Climate Summit agreements, and he tweeted in 2012 that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. He hasn’t released a specific environmental plan, but in his energy plan, he says he wants the U.S. to be energy independent and will do so by opening federal lands to allow drilling for natural gas and eliminate prohibitions on coal leasing, which is federal land leased for coal mining.

Clinton said “she will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent by 2025 relative to 2005 levels” and will do so by investing in more clean energy and cutting oil and tax subsidies hoping to shift the market to one that prioritizes more clean energy. She also promised to tackle environmental racism, as half of the Latinx population live in areas where the air quality doesn’t meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

Student Debt

This generation of young people are the most educated generation in history, but they are also burdened by student loan debt more than ever. The class of 2016 graduated with an average of $37,172 in student loan debt. As student debt climbs higher, being in debt at 23 has become the norm.

Relieving this burden is one of the few policies Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on. However, how to go about relieving this burden is like everything else in this election — complicated.

Trump wants to relieve the burden of student debt by calling for an end to the federal government making money off student loan interest payments. He also suggested investing in K-12, including adding $20 billion toward “school choice,” which would allow every American living in poverty to choose which school they want to attend.

Clinton also called for a cut to the federal interest rate. She also promoted making community college free to students, and by 2021 vows that families making up to $125,000 will pay no tuition for in-state, four-year public colleges and universities (i.e., University of California and California State Universities).