Jace Laquerre isn’t sure he’s the youngest delegate at the Republican National Convention—there’s another who might beat him to that superlative—but he’s very clear about his skepticism of Donald Trump, his party’s nominee for president.
“I don’t really think he represents what young people would like to see,” said Laquerre, 17 and a rising high school senior from Colchester, Vt.. Laquerre would like see a GOP that puts more emphasis on “privacy, ending the NSA [National Security Agency], a non-interventionist foreign policy.”
After initially supporting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for the presidency, Laquerre, who says he’s a libertarian, switched his allegiance to Sen. Ted Cruz, and he was sporting a button for the junior Texas senator on the convention floor Wednesday. When we asked him his opinion of Trump’s K-12 policy, Laquerre said he’s pleased that Trump wants to end the Common Core State Standards. And like Trump, Laquerre is hostile to the idea of the U.S. Department of education. But after that, Laquerre thinks the candidate is very enigmatic.
“I don’t think Trump has made his education plan quite clear,” Laquerre said. For his own part, when it comes to education, he added, “I would like to see the parents and the school boards have more say in how they teach their kids in the localities.”
What has Trump said about education? Click here to find out in our comparison of Trump and Clinton.
When Laquerre talks about his views with fellow classmates and others in the liberal stronghold of Vermont, he said he makes sure to express his opinions but also elicit the views of the other person, because “a good thoughtful discussion instead of, you know, insults and rhetoric is good to have, especially in a school environment.” (Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders of his home state does appeal to him in some ways, Laquerre said, such as his stance on privacy issues.)
Most young people are libertarians, but they just don’t know it, according to Laquerre. But looking around at his and other state delegations, Laquerre doesn’t really think the Republican Party understands that either.
“What really surprised me is how underrepresented the youth are,” he said of RNC delegates. “I think we need to get youth more involved in politics, and the Republican Party has a lot of work to do there.”
Photo: Jace Laquerre, a 17-year-old delegate from Vermont, on the floor of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (Swikar Patel/Education Week)