“My name is Jace Laquerre, I am a delegate for the state of Vermont. I got involved in politics through Senator Rand Paul, who inspired me to get involved through his principles of liberty and limited government.
“I have been involved in a lot of student organizations. I'm at Young Americans for Liberty, Students for Life and the NRA. I look forward to a future in politics and getting like-minded candidates elected.”
“Growing up, I always liked watching the results come in for the elections on TV with my dad,” Jace Laquerre recalls, thinking back to his earliest memories of U.S. politics.
Although Laquerre remembers supporting presidential candidates Senator John McCain in 2008 and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2012, he was just a kid at the time. His first call to action, he says, came from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky during a speech Paul made in Vermont in 2015.
“I got to meet him and I heard him speak, and I think his principles of liberty and limited government really inspired me to get involved,” Laquerre says.
Today, he says the views he shares with Senator Paul can be easily summarized: “I just think that if you’re not hurting anybody and you’re not taking any of their stuff, you should be able to do whatever you want in society.”
But even before he heads to the polls, the young Vermont native has already made his mark on national politics. At this year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, he served as its youngest elected delegate.
Laquerre, a high school senior, turned 18 on August 21, making him eligible to vote in the general election on November 8.
“I'm a ‘go big or go home’ guy.”
One of Laquerre’s goals this election, he says, is to give a platform for young millennials – now the nation’s largest voting bloc – to express themselves and become more involved in the political process.
“I think young people really have a strong opinion about what should be done in their country, but I think a lot of them don't really know how to create a change,” he says. “Being involved in politics is how change happens in a country.”
Laquerre’s choice: Republican nominee Donald Trump
Laquerre’s first choice wasn’t Trump. Nor his second. When asked at the Republican convention in July whom he supported, Laquerre looked around the convention floor cautiously, and smirked, “unfortunately, Trump.” By that time, the RNC convention was nearly over, and any hope of a late Republican alternative had fizzled.
Rand Paul was out. So was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Laquerre’s backup choice. And he said he wasn’t ready to back Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico.
So that left one option. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was the candidate he liked least from the very beginning, he says.
“My generation, if she gets elected, is going to be overseas fighting in senseless wars that we don't need to be involved in.”
“I think it will be more of an anti-Clinton vote more than anything,” Laquerre says. “I was never a big fan of [Trump], I have a lot of reservations about him still.”
He says he sees Trump as an opportunist who lacks principle. “He says whatever is politically advantageous at the moment.”
Still, he says he believes Clinton is far worse, calling her a “neoconservative.”
“She is going to get us involved in senseless wars that we do not need to be involved in,” he says, pointing to her vote in favor of the Iraq War and her support to overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
“[Senator] Bernie [Sanders] said it the best: She is untrustworthy, she has bad judgment,” Laquerre says. “I just don't think she would be right for America, and I think the Republicans offer an alternative to that that would be better.”
VOA’s Yulya Yarmolenko contributed to this interview.
Top five issues for Jace Laquerre
5. Immigration. “I think I would be more towards the middle, because I do think legal immigration helps our economy in the long run. I am for enforcing the border. I think we need to secure our Southern border, but I don't know if I think that necessarily means a wall.”
4. Liberty, domestic spying. “Liberty is very important to me. It's one of the things that Rand Paul talked a lot about that got me involved. Domestic spying: I don't think the government has any right to be looking through our phone records and emails and text messages without a warrant. I think that's very unconstitutional.”
3. Economy. “I'm very fiscally conservative. I think lowering taxes will bring up the middle class. I favor a fair and flat tax. So a 1 percent rate for all Americans of all income levels. I think deregulation -- letting the free market run its course -- is a good thing. The difference between Ubers and taxis is liberals actually are banning Ubers from certain cities because the taxi union wants them to, and that's driving up prices for taxis and stopping consumers from getting lower prices for better service with Uber. A
2. Guns. “I think the Second Amendment protects all the other amendments, so that's very important to me.”
1. Abortion. “I am very pro-life. Coincidentally, the younger generation is actually more pro-life then the older generation and a lot of people wouldn't think that.”
July 20, 2016, 5:15 PM
“I think a lot of people jump to [a] side without looking at the facts. The Blue Lives Matter people will rush to defend the police and the Black Lives Matter people will rush to judgment to say the police are guilty. I really think we need to calm down. Look at the facts for each individual case and come up with a solution. As far as policies, I'm in favor of body cameras for all police. I think transparency is a very good thing.”
August 26, 2016, 10:19PM
“The state of the race so far has been full of negativity on both sides. WikiLeaks is set to release Clinton Emails that will show Clinton was using the office of Secratary of State in order to raise money for the Clinton Foundation in exchange for special favors. This will turn into an October surprise and may change the direction of the election. Trump has began to reach out to minority groups. This is something I think him and the Republican Party should have done years ago but I suppose it is better late then never. We could also see a third party candidate this year. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is close to getting into the debates. I believe that if he does it will be a game changer because I think a lot of Americans will like his third point of view and the stark contrast he offers from the other two candidates.”