Ariana Mentzel (34), a Democrat from Beverly Hills, MI, leads college students in conversations about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Detroit Center for Civil Discourse. Named one of Detroit Jewish News’ “36 under 36,” she serves as the vice president Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Mentzel also served as former Oakland County Chair of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus. She runs a preschool Shabbat program at her temple.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
Has Donald Trump’s presidency turned out the way you thought it would back in 2016 when he was first elected president? Is it better or worse than you expected?
It has turned out as bad—even worse—than I thought/knew it would. The amount of political tension and divide—racism and bigotry amplified—political corruption—misuse of power—and so much more is exactly what I feared would happen.
Do you believe that Donald Trump has fulfilled his campaign promises and is this a good thing or a bad thing for the country?
He has not delivered all his promises and that’s both good and bad—did Mexico pay for the wall? Is Israel more secure now/is there peace with the Palestinians? Has Obama Care been repealed and replaced with something better? Is the economy booming?
Has Joe Biden turned out to be the type of candidate you expected at the start of the primary elections? Please explain.
He is what I expected—a very safe choice—less enthusiastic than I would like in terms of energizing the people, but I gladly take this demeanor over Trump’s populist and fascist traits.
What does Donald Trump need to do to win the election in November? Do you think he has a chance?
He has a chance—he just needs to continue to stoke fear, hate, and division. He also needs to continue the system of suppressing votes and spreading lies about fraud and such.
What does Joe Biden need to do to win the election in November? Do you think he has a chance?
Joe Biden can win if people vote—I think it’s promising that many republicans are showing by example that it’s decent to vote for Biden—I just hope that this won’t turn away those of the far left.
If elected, what should Donald Trump do to bring the country together?
He won’t bring the country together. Unity and safety are not in his interest.
If elected, what do you think Joe Biden should focus on for his first 100 days in office?
He needs to tackle coronavirus and compensate the American people who lost livelihood to it. Biden should also begin a program of uniting the American people and tackling systemic racism and repairing the education system after the botch job Betsy DeVos has done along with COVID’s damage to school.
Do you have any concerns about the general election in November, and if yes, what are your concerns?
I am concerned that continued civil unrest and corruption will delay or endanger the integrity of the election. I am concerned that Trump will incite his base to protest the election results if he does not win—we got a taste of this with armed protesters at the beginning of COVID shutdowns.
Should in-person voting be required in November? Why or why not?
It should be available—perhaps in heated tents and masks required. No reason absentee ballots are a must as well—already used in many states and should be implemented nationwide given the pandemic.
Do you think Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests will affect voter choice? Please explain.
It will hopefully make those that see what an incompetent leader he is vote against him.
Do you think COVID-19 will affect voter turnout? If yes, how?
Yes—I believe more people will vote absentee (if they can).
Do you think the closure of voting locations across the country due to COVID-19 will affect elections in your state in November? Please explain.
It could hurt an already broken and fragile voter base—in the city and in areas with outdated/broken machines and long wait lines.
At this point, what is your preferred method of voting in November? Why?
Absentee—can take my time to fill out the ballot and skip the lines—avoid COVID and large crowds.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the pandemic in your state and across the country?
Our governor has been a godsend. If it wasn’t for her, we’d all get sick. She really took the lead in the beginning and helped us tremendously.
What are your thoughts on the reopening of schools across the country?
It’s scary. It is a double-edged sword—COVID-19 spreader and end to working parents. A really bad predicament.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I am hopeful that Biden will win but not sure of it—after 2016 nothing will surprise me—I often think about making aliyah [moving to Israel] if Trump wins again and this country dives deeper in despair and uncertainty with the Trump temperament and autocratic way to govern.