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0000017c-7f7e-d4f8-a77d-fffffe370000Utah Public Radio is dedicated to bring you in-depth political stories during this election year so you can cast an informed vote. Here is a compilation of our local news coverage for you to refer back to, to study and to share with others.

What Does It Mean To Be An American In The 2016 Election?

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Like every other election year, Americans are discussing issues like economics, freedom of speech and foreign affairs. But since the 2016 American presidential candidates announced their bids in 2015, conversations have erupted about issues like race, gender and national security. It has left Americans asking themselves what it means to be an American, and which candidate most adequately represents those ideals.

 

Adam Hunt, a Utah State University student and member of the USU Democrats Club, manned a booth at a "Meet The Candidates" night in Logan, where students and the community was invited to come hear from local and state politicians.

“To be an American in the 2016 election for me means that we’re facing two very different visions of what we want this country to be," he said. "One vision is, do we want progress and a woman as president, which is one of the biggest moments in our country’s history, or do we want to be a closed, isolationist country that doesn’t accept multiculturalism or anyone with a different point of view than mainstream Americans?"

Kurt Webb, a Republican member of Utah’s House of Representatives who’s seeking reelection this year, was also at the event and says he sees this as a pivotal year in politics.

“On a national basis, I think the electorate is really frightened," Webb said. "And we have got to get away from the anger in politics. Now for almost an entire generation, we have been angry and we elect angry people. And when we elect angry people, then they govern that way. I hope there are some lessons to be learned here. Not sure we can do anything about it at the stage we’re in, only to learn the lesson that civility is a better prospect for governance.”

Many Americans feel like the presidential election is so large that one vote doesn’t matter. Many wonder if their vote is a drop in the ocean - What difference can I make? Colton Brown, a member of the USU Republican Club, hopes voters won’t bend to that type of thinking.

“This year could be so detrimental and so important for our future, that if we don’t know who we’re voting for and why we’re voting for them, we’re denying ourselves of a precious right," he said.

Beyond the national elections, Peter Gilbert, the director of USU’s Government Relations Council, stresses the importance of local elections.

“We may be dissatisfied with the presidential election, with politics as a whole on the national level, but we realize that on the local level, our voice really is heard and that our vote does matter," Gilbert said. "There are hundreds of other races in our communities, these are our friends and neighbors that are representing us, and if we have strong communities, we will have a strong country.”

So what does it mean to be an American? Through this election, voters will decide.