Election Talking Points for Conservative Teens

September 11, 2020

With Election Day approaching, political conversations are heating up in high school classrooms and on college campuses. Conservative students may feel uncomfortable sharing their views, fearing repercussions from liberal instructors, especially if they support the re-election of Donald Trump. A recent Cato Institute survey found that 77 percent of Republicans feel less free to say what they think; nearly half of Republican college students report hearing professors go on anti-Trump rants in class, according to a poll by The College Fix. Whether or not you’re old enough to vote, it’s important to know the facts about how presidential elections work and why it’s OK to support the candidate of your choice. Here are fact-based talking points to counter your antagonists:

Private Property

“Social justice is more important than protecting rich people’s stuff.”

In the most important ways, the right of private property is the original social justice. Property is the foundation of every right we have, including the right to be free. It works like an economic Golden Rule; if your property is respected, is owned, you can see the wisdom in respecting a neighbor’s property. John Locke, the philosophical father of the American Revolution and the inspiration for Thomas Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence, stated the issue simply: “Lives, Liberties, and Estates, which I call by the general Name, Property.” And James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, echoed those thoughts when he wrote, “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” All of our rights — all of the things to which we are “entitled” — can be reduced to property. That enables us to separate genuine rights (things to which we hold title) from specious “rights” (things to which other people hold title, which we may want for ourselves). It was the genius of the old common law, grounded in reason and custom, that property, broadly conceived, separates one individual from another; and individuals are independent or free to the extent that they have sole or exclusive dominion over what they hold. The fundamental reason that Americans work so hard every day, are so productive, is to acquire property so they can remain independent and free.

Sources: https://www.cato.org/cato-handbook-policymakers/cato-handbook-policy-makers-8th-edition-2017/property-rights-constitutionhttps://www.amazon.com/Noblest-Triumph-Property-Prosperity-Through/dp/0312223374

Foreign Influence

“Foreign influence could rig the election in favor of Donald Trump.”

Americans have feared foreign interference in elections since the Constitution was drafted in 1787. John Adams wrote, “As often as Elections happen the danger of foreign Influence recurs.” But Adams and his colleagues could not have imagined the technological tools at the disposal of today’s foreign adversaries. U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge that information warfare is being waged from abroad, with China seemingly preferring Joe Biden over Trump and Russia favoring a Trump victory. To date the influence campaign has involved social media manipulation. While there is concern over a potential cyberattack threatening voter rolls and ballot security, most officials believe it would be extremely difficult to alter votes cast in a presidential election because the states use so many different voting systems and processes. 

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/01/737978684/what-you-need-to-know-about-foreign-interference-and-the-2020-election; https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/07/politics/2020-election-russia-china-iran/index.html

Electoral College

“Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 so she should be president.”

The system we use for electing a president is called the Electoral College, and it is not based on popular vote. Here’s how it works: When voters go to the polls, they cast their ballot for a slate of electors — this year Trump electors or Biden electors. The number of electors in each state is the sum of its U.S. senators and representatives. Under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, state legislatures decide how electors are chosen and distributed. In 48 of 50 states, the candidate who wins the most votes receives all of the state’s electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska allocate them by congressional district. States prefer the winner-take-all approach because it gives the voting majority in that state more influence in the Electoral College. A candidate must win a majority of the Electoral College (270 out of 538) to become president.

Source: https://www.270towin.com/; https://www.americanheritage.com/electoral-college-how-it-got-way-and-why-were-stuck-it.

“The Electoral College is anti-democratic.”

The Framers designed an institution for selecting the president that was republican in nature, not democratic. They debated popular election of the president but concluded that the public could not cast an informed vote. They considered having Congress make the choice but worried that the executive would be beholden to the legislative branch. The Electoral College was a compromise. The idea was to bring together a group of political leaders who would choose the president from the best possible candidates of the day. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68 that the system should reflect “the sense of the people,” but that “the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities” needed in a chief executive. He added, “A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” Although the Electoral College no longer operates as it did originally, it remains a uniquely American and representative institution.

Sources: https://www.factcheck.org/2008/02/the-reason-for-the-electoral-college/; https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp

“With 24/7 news coverage, the people can be trusted to make an informed vote.”

There are other reasons to preserve the Electoral College. It balances voting power across states so no one region of the country is dominant. If the president were elected by popular vote, a candidate could focus all attention on the east and west coasts and ignore the middle of the country. “Without the Electoral College, a relatively small number of states — in an extreme case, as few as seven — could elect a president and control the executive branch of the national government. How confident should we be that these few large states would act in the national interest, as opposed to focusing almost exclusively on their narrow state interests? However, with the Electoral College, even if one presidential candidate was able to win the Electoral College votes of the people of the seven largest states — a majority of the U.S. population — he or she still would need an additional 61 Electoral College votes to win. A presidential campaign that focuses exclusively on the largest states will lose.”

Source: https://thefederalist.com/2016/09/16/the-electoral-college-still-makes-sense-because-were-not-a-democracy/

Source quote: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/498512-the-electoral-college-is-not-democratic-nor-should-it-be

“Shouldn’t elections be based on one-person, one-vote?”

The U.S. House of Representatives is based on a state’s population and the concept of one-person, one-vote. The U.S. Senate, however, is based on equal representation. That’s why Indiana, with 6.7 million residents, has the same number of senators as California, with 39 million people. The Electoral College is similar. Both are considered an important part of our federal system, in which power is shared between state and national governments.

Source: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/defense-electoral-college

“The Electoral College is racist.”

The Electoral College led to slavery’s destruction. In 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln won the Electoral College by a wide margin but lost the popular vote. Had the Democrats won the election that year, the emancipation of enslaved people would have happened much later in U.S. history. At the Constitutional Convention, the debate over how to select the chief executive did not focus on slavery but on balancing the rights of different states: large and small, North and South. Jennifer Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center and a former member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, notes that, “Far from being racist, the Electoral College protects the interests of anyone in the minority — political, geographic, racial, or otherwise. By contrast, a nationwide popular vote would be, as Ben Franklin purportedly said about democracy, ‘like two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.’ Anyone who wants to protect the lamb should favor keeping the Electoral College.

Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/01/opinion/is-electoral-college-racist/

Ballot Access and Integrity

“There are still obstacles to voting in this country.”

Thanks to our long history of expanding the right to vote, we have universal suffrage in this country, which means all citizens over 18 are eligible. The exception is convicted felons who, in most states, lose their right to vote during their prison sentence.

“Republicans want to suppress Democratic votes by discouraging mail-in voting.”

“It’s true that Democrats tend to favor mail-in voting and Republicans tend to oppose it, but that is mostly due to concerns over voter fraud. A study by a Stanford University professor found that voting by mail yielded a small but roughly equal increase in turnout between the parties.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/12/873878423/voting-and-elections-divide-republicans-and-democrats-like-little-else-heres-why

“Voter fraud is a myth.”

Voter fraud is real. A Heritage Foundation voter fraud database contains 1,217 documented cases of fraud, and they believe that is just the “tip of the iceberg.” These range from ineligible non-citizens casting illegal ballots to politicians buying votes and rigging their own elections. There have been dozens of such cases in Indiana. In one, Lowell “Ross” Colen, a 10-year veteran of the Rising Sun Police Department, was forced to resign after pleading guilty to four counts of felony voter fraud. Colen was charged with illegally trying to help his father win election to the Rising Sun City Council by completing absentee voter applications and filling out ballots for people who were not eligible to vote in the county and in some cases forging signatures. The Heritage Foundation has found that “voter fraud is not particular to one party or ideology. At its core, people cheat in elections to further their preferred causes or to advance their own careers, and there’s nothing inherently conservative or liberal about the desire to win.”

Sources: https://www.heritage.org/election-integrity/commentary/more-proof-voter-fraud-real-and-bipartisanhttps://www.heritage.org/voterfraud/search?combine=&state=IN&year=&case_type=All&fraud_type=All&page=2

“Voter ID laws are designed to suppress Democratic votes.”

Voter ID is a reasonable requirement that protects the integrity of the ballot. Identification laws have been in place in Georgia and Indiana for many years, and there has been no drop in turnout of minority, poor, or elderly voters. U.S. citizens of all socio-economic categories need photo ID as part of their daily lives – whether to drive a car, buy a beer or board a plane. Most states offer free IDs to people who cannot afford them.

Source: https://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-photo-id-be-required-to-vote/voter-id-laws-protect-the-integrity-of-our-democracy

Mail-in Balloting

“Voting by mail is safer because of the coronavirus.”

Absentee voting is allowed in most states for citizens who are traveling on Election Day or physically unable to go to the polls. But there are reasons to worry about mass voting by mail. Critics say it makes it easier to commit fraud, intimidate voters and destroy the confidentiality of ballot. Also, it puts elections into the hands of the Postal Service, which has not proven to be competent. Critics have been calling for its reform or elimination since the early 1980s. Without the oversight of election and polling officials, ballots can be lost, disqualified or stolen.

 Sources: https://www.heritage.org/election-integrity/commentary/database-swells-1285-proven-cases-voter-fraud-america; https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa047.pdf

Value of Voting

“Why vote anyway? One vote doesn’t matter.”

Actually, a single vote can make a difference. There have been more than a dozen races decided by a single vote or ending in a tie over the last 20 years. In 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie out of more than 23,000 votes cast. Local officials broke the tie by pulling a name out of a bowl. As a result, Republican David Yancey was declared the winner and his party tool control of the state House by a single seat. In 2016 a Vermont state Senate Democratic primary was determined by one vote out of more than 7,400 cast.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2018/11/03/663709392/why-every-vote-matters-the-elections-decided-by-a-single-vote-or-a-little-more

Trump versus Biden

“If you support Donald Trump you must be a racist.”

I support Donald Trump because I agree with his economic and trade policies. I support Donald Trump because I agree with his views and policies on international relations. I support him because of his promise to nominate conservative judges. I support him because his policies have benefited black Americans more than the Democratic policies of the previous administration. Black author and political commentator Gianno Caldwell noted of Trump, “His recent police-reform executive order, the First Step Act, released thousands of people from jail (90 percent of whom were black). He has promoted ‘opportunity zones’ that incentivized private investment into marginalized communities, and also increased federal funding to historically black colleges and universities by 17 percent — a total exceeding $100 million, more than any president in history. Meanwhile, the Obama administration infamously removed a two-year Bush-administration program that annually funded $85 million directly to these prized institutions.”

Source: https://nypost.com/2020/07/04/trump-not-biden-has-helped-make-black-lives-better/


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