From Staff Reports
TRAVERSE CITY – Traverse City resident Justin Marcum, 23, calls himself “a staunch conservative.”
But he’s uncertain who’ll get his vote in November.
After graduating from high school in 2018, he moved from Ann Arbor to the Grand Traverse region to pursue a degree at Northwestern Michigan College. Now in his senior year with the aviation program, Marcum’s close to achieving his goal of becoming an airline pilot. “I have my pilot’s license, and I’m wrapping up my commercial flight training,” he said.
The 2024 election will be the second election that Marcum has voted in – and he’s already weary of the rhetoric on both sides.
Two issues are predominant for him: The economy and the conflicts going on overseas. “The economy is important. We’re still dealing with inflation,” Marcum said. “And you’ve also got the war in Ukraine that is being portrayed in different ways to different people. Same with the Hamas terror conflict in Israel. …
“With the increase in conflicts going on overseas, I think people are really going to want the next president, whether it be the current one, former one or new one … to keep foreign policy in mind.”
The stark divergence of political views in the country is a concern, he said. “We’re experiencing severe polarization. Division will be always be present with political parties, but polarization is more potent than the other wars because it’s already on our shore. It’s here and it’s within. If we fail to recognize hostility between our neighbors, it’s going to creep up on us and catch us by surprise before we can do anything to stop it.”
Marcum said he believes the tenor of the discord has changed from previous elections. “Certainly you’ve got a contingent – or voter base – that is split, regardless. But, over the years, we’ve seen the rhetoric change, we’ve seen the candidates change. The disunity just wasn’t as apparent to me then as it is now.”
Marcum underscored the importance of integrity and respect for the process. “Both parties claim to be for and by the people, and I don’t think I’ve seen that the last few years, based on their nominating process.”
“I believe 100% in supporting and defending the Constitution. One thing that has changed for me is that I pay more attention to what they say about the Constitution – and see if they abide by it.”
Marcum does not view President Biden as a viable candidate for re-election. “I’m going to vote based on what a candidate’s policies are, and that’s a big part of my calculation. Also, his age is a concern.”
Current border policies, and the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the Southern border, are one of the problems with Biden, he said.
“This country was thankfully built by immigrants. They’re vital to this country. But it’s extremely unfair to those who took the legal road, waited, and now can’t even seek asylum or get help. It’s hurting them.”
“I do know that they need to fix the legal process,” he said. “We need more judges to handle cases, more beds, more border agents, and we need technology down at the border.”
In his view, Trump is not a viable candidate either. “I believe, as a staunch conservative, that if I’m going to make an effort to put the Constitution center stage, and put freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, center stage, then I have a hard time voting for either one of them.”
So, if it’s Trump versus Biden in November, Marcum says neither will get his vote. But he’d be open to considering voting for a third-party candidate then – if it’s the right person.
“Again, it’s a matter of substance and policies.”
From Staff Reports