By Samanta Gonzalez Castro and Ella Wilkerson
Houston, TX and Philadelphia, PA
On a recent Friday afternoon, residents strolled Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, eating ice cream and sipping coffee while enjoying the serenity of Hinds Plaza.
It only took one phrase to break the mood: the 2020 election.
“It’s gonna be a hot mess,” said Deidra, a 72-year-old retired teacher.
If President Trump wins re-election, “I’ll move to Canada,” said a 52-year-old man named Dwight.
Sarah, an 18-year-old college freshman, simply said, “Oh,” as her face fell.
Election season has always stirred passions. But in the age of Don- ald Trump, Democrats are feeling drained and overwhelmed, according to a Princeton Summer Journal street survey of local residents. Some just stopped and walked away. Others said they were taking a break from politics after 2016. Still others were wad- ing back in, looking for the candidate with the best chance of beating Trump. (None wanted to use their full names.)
The sentiments of the three generations of Princeton voters in par- ticular reflects the larger currents shaping the presidential campaign.
Facing a field of 24 candidates, all three are sampling the field.
Dwight watched the first Democratic debate in June, looking for some- one to address immigra- tion and healthcare. After Julian Castro’s breakout moment, Dwight said he’d be “willing to vote” for the former San An- tonio mayor and onetime secretary of Housing and Urban Development. But healthcare is a key issue, and while he sup- ports “Medicare for all,” he wants any new plan to maintain the private in- surance system. “We do live in a capitalist nation,” he said.
Deidra agreed, arguing that many of the ideas of progressive contenders like Sen. Bernie Sanders are too liberal for many voters. She likes Joe Biden, largely because he was vice president under Barack Obama. Trump, she said, needs to be defeated because of his aggressive immigration policies, including the so- called Muslim ban.
“For the love of God,” Deidra said, “if he wins, there is no God.”
Sarah, a freshman at Princeton University, said she’s been less en- gaged in the 2020 cam- paign, but her favored candidates also reflect the tension between the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic Party. “Bernie and Joe Biden,” she said, with- out hesitation. Sarah likes Biden because of his service in the Obama administration.
But for now, Sanders appears to have the edge. Sarah cited his proposal, first floated during his campaign in 2016, to pro- vide free public college tuition for all students.
A little more than a year before the 2020 election, these three different generations of Democrats show the po- litical uncertainty across the nation. But they are united in one belief: Anyone is better than Trump.