Presidential Candidates Using the Flint Situation to Further Their Campaigns

By: Victoria Wojciechowski
Drinking water is a necessity used in every person’s life. From cooking pasta to rehydrating after a long day, no one is void to the contents within drinking water. This is why just a few weeks ago, citizens in Flint, Michigan were outraged when they found out that since April of 2014, they had been consuming lead within their drinking water. Though the led content was significantly small at first, it had grown to turn the water a dingy yellow color. With the oncoming presidential race looming, many candidates have used Flint’s unfortunate situation to further their campaign.

The top democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, had similar yet vastly different responses when it came to Flint. Hillary Clinton commented that Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, should resign after his racist actions toward Flint. Hillary pointed out that the majority population of Flint is African-American, and that this is why Snyder did not attempt to fix the problem. Sanders simply called for Snyder to resign as he is unfit to lead the state.

Two republican candidates, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, have been asked about Flint during their campaign this past week. Marco Rubio commented saying that he wasn’t briefed in detail on the situation, so he wouldn’t be able to give a fair comment on what was going on. Donald Trump commented on how devastating and unfortunate the crisis is, though he really shouldn’t comment much further.

The initial response from the democrats was expected. Rick Snyder, a republican, would of course be chastised by democrats. If democrats see an opportunity to show the incompetence of the republican party, they surely will take it. What seemed so outlandish of the democrats’ response was that of Hillary’s. Hillary’s response seemed to want to stir the pot. By making the crisis about race, she intentionally is trying to cause a problem out of the bounds of the initial crisis.

Though it isn’t possible that the Flint problem was placed aside due to the racial integrity of the city, it seems almost unlikely that a governor would completely target one race and intentionally poison that race. Furthermore, it’s not so much about race as it is about money. Snyder’s choice to use cheap rusty lead pipes saved the state a lot of money. In doing this, he is able to allocate that money to other places. Flint had these pipes as an option, so Snyder took that option. Though not necessarily a great choice, he made the choice to save money.
With Hillary’s comments seeming to want to fuel more race problems, Bernie just took a simple approach. Once he was done with his comment, he moved on to other problems on his agenda. His simple and sweet approach touched on what he needed to touch on and moved on quickly as to avoid any sort of scandals or uproars.

The republican candidates’ comments on Flint have been somewhat criticized this past week for not being as touching or involved as the democratic responses. Though both Marco and Donald commented slightly on the topics, it isn’t shocking. Both are republicans and criticizing another republican during a campaign is not favorable. Both candidates were trying not to disrespect Snyder while at the same time showing remorse for the situation. In their circumstances, they handled their responses quite well.

Overall, the situation in Flint will not be fixed by any of the candidates; it needs to be fixed by those already in office. While people will focus on the candidates’ responses, what they should be focusing on is how they can help Flint today.