Political Interviews With UCF Students: Liberal Edition

For some people, Liberalism has been seen as a beacon of hope. For some others, it has been seen as an extreme. Another large group sees it as a system of destruction. The political ideology was originally revoluntary in many ways. Politically, it challenged the hierarchy during Medieval times. Socially, it introduced the harming principle and being anti-paternalism. Economically, it introduced capitalism. The two college students I interviewed discuss their views through this perspective.

TaTiana

TaTiana is a senior who studies creative writing with a minor in theatre. She is also a staff writer for Her Campus UCF. The closest political label that she adheres to is liberal.

When I asked TaTiana about her political journey, she said she wasn’t into politics for the longest time. However, her father, who is Afro-Cuban and her diverse community, influenced her political upbringing:

I didn’t really get into politics after I graduated from high school because, before that, I thought it was boring.

For the rest of her family, TaTiana is the only liberal. The rest of her family are either left-leaning independents or apolitical. She was brought up as Christian, but she doesn’t identify as one at the moment:

I don’t think it [Christianity] had an effect on my political upbringing.

When I asked her about Trump and his influence on the Democratic Party, she was hesitant to say that it was positive because of what the term typically means. However, she stated that:

Although TaTiana is a registered Democrat, she sees problems with both parties stating that they both are corrupt:

The Democrats have more pros than cons. The Democrats are for the people. They don’t just mean people who demographically look like them. They mean every person. The Republican party is more so straight, white, cis-male or cis-female. Both political parties are hypocritical, but I definitely think the Republicans are more hypocritical than Democrats. If I could, I wouldn’t be registered as either. If we were able to vote in the primaries as independents, I would do that.

TaTiana sees that the Democratic Party is trying to stay close to the middle to reach out to both ends of the spectrum:

They’re not trying to become more left or more right. I think they are trying to be more for the people. There are gay people, people of color, people of different religions — they are not trying to be for the people and all people. They just want to be more reserved.

When I mentioned Trump Derangement Syndrome and asked her opinion on it, she thought it applied to those who were right-leaning rather than folks who lean left. However, when she learned about the term, she said it wasn’t a valid term:

I don’t think it’s a valid term because the people finding things wrong with him have actual hard proof of all the reasons, they dislike him. You can go on the internet to find it. I don’t think they are deranged or finding any reason to critique him.

As a liberal, TaTiana feels that the media portrayal depends on who is writing or speaking about each political group:

I feel like the media plays it up on creating this view for their viewers. They amplify it, and they make it extreme.

Regarding Ben Shapiro, she didn’t initially know who was:

Originally, I was like who? Who are we complaining about? I had to google him. I don’t mind learning about people. I wanted to know who I’m complaining about. I was like, ‘Oh!’ I’m not for this. I knew about this situation because of Facebook groups because people said, ‘We shouldn’t have him. Sign this petition.’ I was signing petitions after I read who it was who was coming. So, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s not have this man on campus.’ Yes, freedom of speech, but if someone’s views are nonsense, I don’t want them to be near me.

I also posed a question about Kaitlin Bennett with her two visits:

I was more annoyed because she knows the reaction that she’s able to get from people who aren’t Trump supporters just because of her views and ideology. She was trying to provoke the students to bring backlash against her because she knows that’s what gets her views. I wasn’t on campus for it, but it was all over my Twitter timeline. It was upsetting that the school and the police were more concerned about her. The students were raising the point that she wasn’t wearing a mask. I feel like that could have been something to remove her off-campus. The second time I had no opinion because I didn’t see her because she was wearing a mask. I decided to not think about her.

TaTiana disagrees with Bennett on a large range of topics, such as her openly carrying an assault weapon at Kent State and her not getting any form of consequences for that. She doesn’t like how Bennett is also supportive of Trump.

TaTiana has already voted for Joe Biden:

I don’t like the man. I’m settling for Biden. I like his policies more than Trump. I’m not voting for Trump. Ever. You couldn’t even pay me a million dollars. I like Biden’s plan to help the working class, people of color, and the LGBT community. Honestly, anything is better than Trump. My support would have gone to Bernie if he won.

We discussed voting by mail, and she said that as long as people mail out their ballot as soon as they get their ballot, it’s fine. She didn’t send it through outside boxes because she was scared:

Not because of the Democratic party hiding my answer. I was more scared because, in California, they were caught putting up fake mail-in ballot mailboxes. They were scared of the Democratic party doing that, but they did it. I’ve gone in and turned in my mail-in ballot. I think people should take advantage of it if they go in person during early voting and dump it in the box. I got my email the same day that it goes received. The only problem is that someone posted on Twitter that he just mailed in his ballot or finished his ballot and has a stack of ballots to sign for his family members that passed away. Did he just admit to committing fraud? Is this what’s happening now?

I questioned if TaTiana is involved at the state and local level when it comes to its politics:

Well I according to a letter that I’ve gotten from the state of Florida, I haven’t voted since 2018. They wanted to drag me for that. I don’t really vote for those, and it’s not on purpose. I don’t really vote in the states one, and I know I should. When I do vote, it typically is for the Democratic Party. They are the only ones who have shared my views.

TaTiana’s top issues are the children at the border, the school system, Black Lives Matter, and the protection of the LGBT, specifically trans community:

Photo by daniel james on Unsplash

Since TaTiana mentioned Black Lives Matter, I asked her about the protests that have erupted since May due to the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans:

It’s something that shouldn’t have had to happen. Obviously, those officers should have been held accountable as soon as it happened, and as soon as we’ve seen the proof. The protests are there for a reason. They are not just ‘Oh, they’re rioting. They are just making their mess.’ Even though it has come out that a few police officers have been the ones undercover making these messes in some places. I think protests are 100% necessary to make a change. Protests have happened all throughout our history. That’s how a lot of changes have been made to happen. The people who complain about it — it’s funny — because they are like ‘Well protests won’t work.’ We threw tea into the harbor and freed ourselves from British people. I feel like they work. People like to use Martin Luther King as an example of peaceful protests, but we have been peaceful. You [police officers] are still violent, killing unarmed black people. Or as they say that white people die more, but then why aren’t you protesting for them? Why is no one protesting for them then? You can use King, but he used peaceful protest, and look where it got him. He was killed because of his peaceful protests. So, if people have to be Malcolm X a bit and be more violent to get a change — the peaceful protests weren’t working because Breonna Taylor hasn’t received justice. The one that happened yesterday is another issue because they get called for help when someone needs help for their mentally-ill family member, and the cops shoot them still.

We moved onto how the Trump-Pence administration and Governor Ron DeSantis handled the COVID-19 Pandemic:

So many words to say to these people. Just the thought they treated the whole entire situation makes me angry. Trump was like, ‘Oh, it’ll only be two weeks, and then we’ll get back to normal.’ It’s been seven months since all of this went down, and we only had one check to help everyone. It’s a fend for yourself situation. For DeSantis, he wanted to pass something for college students to be able to party still. That was just to get the future Republicans to vote for him in the next gubernatorial election. He opened bars. He let them party again. Florida is fully opened, and that’s why cases are going up, and people are dying.

TaTiana wants Biden to win but has a sinking feeling in her stomach that Trump might win:

I have no explanation for it. But I think I’m so hopeful for Biden winning that the universe will be like ‘Nope.’ Currently, my hopes are not up. I’m still disappointed about 2016.

After TaTiana graduates from UCF, she plans on writing books or movies. She also might become an English teacher in a foreign country such as Japan.

Genevieve

Genevieve is a junior who majors in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies. Genevieve has moved a lot throughout her childhood, so if she had to pinpoint one location as her hometown, it would be Panama City, Florida.

When discussing her politics, she said she is in the range between being a liberal and a leftist. The party that she is registered with is the Democratic Party.

Genevieve attributes her political journey to learning:

I’ve always had a strong aspiration in the political realm. Ever since I was in middle school in Mississippi, I loved educating myself on politics. In the 2008 election, I was for sure in the minority for people who supported Obama during the election. How there was a lack of funding for so many different governmental resources started my passion.

Genevieve is not alone with being a liberal in her family, with her mom originally being very liberal. Her dad is conservative and is a part of the Republican Party. Both of her parents, however, have become more moderate as the years have gone by. Her sister is a leftist.

Genevieve grew up being Catholic and went to Catholic schools throughout her K-12 school education, but personally, she’s not religious:

Genevieve stated that her beliefs haven’t changed when it comes to Trump’s influence in the Democratic Party but have only gotten stronger. However, it made her realized how divided the country is and where individuals stand on certain issues:

There’s been a big significance placed on political party alignment. ‘If you’re not this way, then you’re this way.’ I’ve seen that a lot with my dad. He’s always been a registered Republican. He has seen how divided his own party has gotten.

Genevieve has heard the argument for Trump Derangement Syndrome before. Still, she doesn’t think it exists:

She believes that the media merges everyone in the Democratic Party’s beliefs together, even though not everyone contains the same beliefs:

They kind of people everyone together. It’s been very interesting to see that people from either side will take one candidate and call them certain things as if they are part of all of those issues. In the last presidential debate, Trump was claiming that Biden is a radical leftist and that he wants to ban all fracking. He wants to abolish and defund the police. There are people in the Democratic Party who do believe that, but they are not associated with Biden. He kind of washes them all together in these issues. It’s a very complex party, just as on the Republican side.

One of Genevieve’s major issues with both parties, particularly her own, is that they push one candidate to represent the whole party:

We have diverse political views. They thought that nominating Biden to represent the whole party would bring success and common ground among everyone. To some degree, I agree. To another, I don’t. I feel he isn’t the voice for everyone in the Democratic party. A lot disagree with him on a lot of his policies. There’s this attitude that nominating a moderate will be successful. I feel that, as we saw in the 2016 election, that’s not always true. People want a candidate who inspires them.

With the Republican party, she sees a lot of groupthink going on, stating:

I don’t like how no matter who they nominate, as a whole they try not to criticize them because of ‘This is who is representing us.’. As we’ve seen within these last four years how divided the Republican party alone has gotten in the sense, they are either diehard Republicans, or they’re split and say ‘We don’t support Trump. We don’t like him. We don’t like who he is standing for, but we’re Republican.’ I don’t like how the Republican Party has not accepted that criticism.

I asked Genevieve if she feels if both parties are becoming either too left or right. She feels that the Democratic Party is just trying to shift more moderate since they feel like that’s the only way they will win the Presidential election. She was unsure about the Republican party:

“I think no matter who receives the most popularity, they are going to nominate no matter what.”

Genevieve thinks Ben Shapiro had every right to be on campus but doesn’t agree with UCF funding part of the event:

I think UCF was showing bias by funding it. Once it starts using funding from students, students that pay to go there and don’t support him, his platform, or beliefs, I think it’s unacceptable.

We moved onto Kaitlin Bennett, and Genevieve was there during her first visit:

She has every right to be there. UCF is a public campus, a public university. I was very upset with the fact she wasn’t wearing a mask in the beginning. When I went there, it was toward the beginning before there was a big crowd. I didn’t go there to engage her. I went there to see first-hand how UCF was going to deal with it. I was going to try to move UCF students, then for one, she wouldn’t be receiving all of this attention, and two, talks to UCF leaders to take action. It’s in our COVID-19 policy that if you are on campus, you must be wearing a mask. She violated that policy. Therefore I thought she should have been removed. I ended up getting pulled into it. She briefly interviewed me, and then I just walked away because it wasn’t why I came there. I wasn’t there the second time. She had a Trump parade. I think it’s also in the policy that you’re not supposed to be in a group of people over ten without socially distancing on campus. All my classes are online, so we have to suspend our classes in person, yet she can come on campus with mobs of people to spew hate. That’s why she goes to campuses to create this uproar.

Genevieve and other UCF students met with UCF President Dr. Cartwright regarding Bennett’s first appearance:

We voiced our concerns. He said that he would be taking action someway and that he would get back to us.

Genevieve voted by mail since her family is now located in Bay County, Florida:

When I graduated from High School in Pennsylvania, my parents moved to Panama City, so I registered there. One, I lived there before, and it’s a very red area. I feel my little speck of blue would do something more than in Orange county.

With Genevieve voting by mail, I directly followed up to ask her whether she believes it is secure. She said it depends:

If you’re mailing it back in, I would say yes, it’s secure. Voter fraud is a very small percentage in our nation in general, especially in regard to the Postal Service handling it. It’s a very small minor chance of anything happening to it. My biggest concern would be dropping it off. I’m more concerned about the d. I read an article a few weeks ago is that in the State of California, there are Republican politicians who have put up these fake ma boxes. They place them all around the state. People are going to drop it off there. It was revealed what they were doing, and it’s still there now.

Genevieve is a voter outreach organizer through For Our Future Florida, so she talks to Floridians every day regarding voting. She understands why people feel that voting by mail is not safe:

I talk to a lot of people and ask them, ‘What’s your plan with voting?’ A lot of them recently have said they are voting early in person because they don’t trust their mail-in ballots. They’re afraid that something might happen to them. I completely understand the fear of it, especially since mail-in ballots take longer to be counted, especially with COVID, it’s going to be delayed. People want it to be a quick process.

Genevieve voted for Joe Biden and had a lot to explain for why she chose to vote for him:

There’s so much at stake this election. He’s a believer in Climate Change. He believes in science. He has said that he will be taking affirmative action, which we so desperately need right now. He is aware of social issues, such as racial discrimination. He has come around because I know a lot of people bring up the Crime Bill that he made. Although I do not agree with that, he has come around and has completely condemned that. He has acknowledged it and acknowledged that there are way too many black men locked up right now for low marijuana charges. He plans on having an assault rifle buyback program. He has a comprehensive plan for COVID, unlike our current President, who keeps on saying, ‘Oh, it’s coming’ or ‘Vaccines are coming out.’ He vows to protect the Affordable Care Act and all of the social issues that have been passed in the Supreme Court — which obviously we have so much fear now such as Roe v. Wade, ACA, and a few others with the new confirmed Justice — he has vowed to support these laws.

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Genevieve has participated in some events in her registered county when it comes to local politics, and she shares candidates in Bay County for people to vote for or support. However, she does more work in Orange County:

I worked with Orange County Commissioner, Emily Bonilla, and I worked a little bit with State Rep. Anna Eskamani. I think it’s very important for people to get involved and understand local politics. They affect you just as much or if not more, what you see on national television. You obviously want to vote for the best candidate. State politics are also very important. There is more recognition when it comes to state representatives and the governor. A lot more people are starting to realize who he is and what his true intentions are. DeSantis has reopened Florida with zero restrictions on COVID. I have talked to Republican voters, such as my dad, where he has seen everything that DeSantis has done, and it’s almost mindboggling.

Genevieve’s most important issues are climate change, Black Lives Matter, equality, and healthcare:

I think they [Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, and Equality] are so fundamental. It’s crazy how it’s been so politicized. As we’ve seen in this Pandemic, how many people have lost their health insurance because they lost their job? I think it’s mindboggling, to begin with, that your healthcare is attached to your job. Healthcare is a human right.

I asked Genevieve how she has felt about the protests and the incidents that have happened:

I think the people who use the argument for the looting and buildings burning down that they seem to be covering it up. They make it seem that it is a bigger issue that buildings are more important than human beings. People are going to find any argument, unfortunately, to diminish it [the protests]. It all stems from what we’re putting into each community. When looking at Orlando, I read a story about the Orlando Police Department. An overwhelming majority of the city funding goes to the Orlando Police Department, which is mindboggling to me because we have a housing crisis right now. When we look at the psychological and sociological factors that go into ‘Why are the police officers getting into these situations with black men and women?’ It stems from their training. John Mina a few months ago denied a psychologist or a therapist to come to the police department to evaluate them. That is one of the most fundamental steps. I don’t think anyone should be able to just become a cop. I think it’s crazy how easy it can be. I’m not trying to diminish, but it is relatively easy to become a cop in today’s society when you think of all of the responsibilities and power that they hold.

She also went to protests as well and explains why they are so important:

I went to a few of the protests. With how it looks from even an outsider’s point of view is crazy. I went, and I made a point to leave before sundown. I was heading back to my car, and they were already starting to pepper spray people. It was a peaceful protest. No one was trying to threaten a cop or harm them in any way. They feel threaten. They have a lot of power that society and the community have given to them. I want to reallocate those funds to community services. We need to make housing a priority in Orlando. We have too many homeless people on the streets. That should be our first priority. We need to bring in more psychological services. We need more elaborate training for police officers. That’s why so many people on the streets are going on the streets to protest. They have so much funding. Where is that funding really going toward, when so many innocent black lives are being taken from police who are not trained adequately.

Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

Genevieve believes that Trump and the federal government have mishandled the COVID-19 Pandemic and had ulterior motives:

I’m so disappointed that we rushed through in the senate Amy Coney Barrett. It shows where their priorities are and how majorly skewed they are. It shows they don’t care and aren’t planning on passing another COVID relief package for the millions of people who are unemployed. They are still uninsured. They are pushing through a justice who is going to undermine everything that everyone is already suffering through, such as ACA. It awakened a lot of people how rushed the hearing was. Trump started off by politicizing it. They have an investigation with Jared Kushner, who knew about how bad it was getting in New York. But because it was a blue state and it was run by a Democratic governor, he withheld information. Apparently, they found a solution early on for New York specifically, but they withheld this information from them because they wanted the governor [Andrew Cuomo] to look bad with how many deaths were rising.

She also specifically critiqued the actions that President Trump took when it came to handling the virus, stating:

I think that not voicing the message of wearing a mask, socially distancing, the lack of putting restrictions when going out, showed the lack of the administration. They completely were disagreeing with the CDC and even politicized Dr. Fauci. Everyone that I have talked to on the phones agreed with me for the most part. Trump was lying to the American people saying how it wasn’t that bad even though he knew since January. He was saying this was going to be gone when warm weather was coming through. This was going to be gone by Easter. Playing the Pandemic down. So many people died unnecessarily. We passed 210,000 the other day who have already died. It’s projected to be another 100,000 or more than that by the end of this year. They’re already coming out with studies that once you get COVID, it becomes a preexisting condition. And you live with that for the rest of your life. You’re going to develop breathing problems, and if you get it again, it can be much worse, and be put on a ventilator right away. So many people aren’t educated on that because it’s not being published, so people understand the severity of this Pandemic.

She moved onto Governor DeSantis. She also felt that he politicized the Pandemic:

He was supported by Trump his entire campaign running as governor, and he has supported him his whole time through COVID. He took off all restrictions. Our numbers in Florida are as bad as they ever been. Some people don’t even realize it because they’re withholding a lot of the numbers and information, in the beginning, to make it seem like it was starting to go away.

I asked Genevieve who she believes will win the election. She hopes it’s Biden. However, she was reading a theory that she found interesting and scary when it comes to the methods of voting:

History has shown that Republicans tend to vote in person on election day, while Democrats more so vote by mail. That prediction is scary to me because our President is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Which will post to an authoritarian state. Riots will literally be out all across the US. It’s very scary to me that many different scenarios can play out for election day.

Closing the interview, I asked Genevieve why people should be liberal. She responded:

A lot of people who are voting for Trump haven’t seen what he has done, or they don’t realize what Biden will bring. They also might have not been affected by what Trump has enacted. The majority of people are about to be affected by what Trump is bringing in because the new Supreme Court justice is a threat to the ACA, which protects everyone under the age of 26 to stay under their parents’ health insurance. I would bring up just because you haven’t been personally affected by the criminal justice system. I would bring up reports on how so many people have been wrongly convicted. I would mention how police brutality has always been visible and has intensified within this last decade. I would talk about the education system. Betsy DeVos has done everything to abolish public schools and public education. That affects most people in the sense that when she demolishes it, she promotes charter schools, which we usually have to pay for that or private schools.

After UCF, Genevieve plans on getting her certification to become a paralegal and work at a law firm. She might attend law school in the future.

Deborah currently attends the University of Central Florida where she double majors in political science and psychology with a minor in journalism studies.