Political Interviews With UCF Students: Moderate Edition

In this day in age, being moderate or independent because of both sides’ noise seems unheard of. However, according to the Washington Post, the number of registered independents has surpassed the number of registered Republicans ever since the start of political parties’ documentation during the early 1900s.

Vitoria is a senior born in Campinas, Brazil. She double majors in Political Science and Legal Studies.

Vitoria sees herself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. She has no party affiliation due to not being an American citizen. However, she does identify with one party more than the other.

I identify a little bit more with Democrats and Independents than Republicans or Conservatives.

Vitoria attributes her political beliefs to the places that she has lived while growing up, explaining:

I moved to England when I was two. Then I lived in Turkey, Belgium, and Portugal. I think all of those very different moves of the world and the different political systems that I grew up and learned about growing up shaped the way I view things and why I see things that way. Growing up in Brazil, I was able to see one end of the spectrum, wherein Belgium it’s the complete opposite. In Turkey, it’s a different experience. I think having all of those different perspectives have really helped form my political opinion.

She also stated her parents helped her with her independent beliefs, with her father being “super liberal” and her mother being “super conservative.”

When I asked her if religion played any role in her political journey, she said no.

I know a lot of people where they say ‘If I am religious, I’m going to be Republican and that’s that.’ But for me, I think that my beliefs are in line with each other. I am religious but also believe in gay marriage. I don’t see it as something that should be linked because people are people regardless of what you particularly think.

Vitoria doesn’t have many positive things to say about President Trump. She feels that his presidency has been more about separating people than bringing them together and has negatively affected both major parties.

Especially after the impeachment attempt, it polarized them even more. It hasn’t been a positive impact and caused a lot more friction between party lines.

With the mention of Trump Derangement Syndrome, she referenced some of her relatives and the fight that she has endured during these past three years, stating:

I’ll say something negative about Trump, but they are so blinded by their support. ‘I don’t care what he did.’ ‘He’s President now!’ ‘He’s President anyway.’ ‘You have to accept that.’ ‘Just deal with it and stop talking negatively.’ I don’t think that just because of that [Trump’s position], that you get to ignore all of the bad things he has done. I understand that you have to respect your leaders, but that doesn’t mean excusing behaviors that you wouldn’t excuse in anybody else. People who are Trump supporters tend to take it a little bit personally when critiques are made about him. I also do admit that it is really easy to make critiques about him, which is why there is so many. If they [Trump supporters] let a little bit slide, they would see what we are trying to say when those critiques are made.

When discussing the media, she saw that both political sides have been displayed negatively.

“I don’t see much of the positive, happy side of political parties being portrayed in media or anywhere positively. I identify a little bit more with the Democrats because socially, I cannot accept some Republican policies. I think they [Democrats] are portrayed as uneducated and going with everything that everyone else wants to do. And that’s not exactly true. There are many smart, well-educated individuals that identify as Democrats. It’s obviously for a reason. Because there is logic and science backing up a lot of these policies. With Republicans, the media says they are all just crazy old white men who don’t believe in women’s rights. And that’s also not necessarily the case. Some of them do. It makes people not want to participate because all they see is negativity.”

When discussing police brutality, Vitoria feels that police officers and government officials could have handled the outcomes of the protests a million times better. She also believes there needs to be a lot of change. She understands why lootings and fires take place. Her main talking point was how the media portrayed protestors.

I think it needs to be advertised that it’s not everywhere. It’s not as common as the media is making it seem. If you turn on the news, they say there was a fire there and a fight here, but you don’t see all the instances where police officers are pepper-spraying people in the face or beating them up or pushing them around. I think that needs to be advertised as well.

When addressing the looting she explained that they are happening for a reason.

They’re doing this because they are angry. They’re upset. People are frustrated, and you’re not fixing the problem; what else can they do to get your attention? If the government had resolved this issue — and addressed things way back when — it would be a different case now. They can’t really blame people for that. It’s their policies that caused it to happen.”

Despite the backlash that came with Ben Shapiro’s event and funding, if COVID-19 didn’t exist, Vitoria thinks the event should have proceeded due to balance.

If it was the other side and Bernie Sanders came to campus — and the Student government was funding things — the other side would get upset and say: ‘Well, you didn’t fund our thing!’ I think they all deserve equal funding and equal opportunity to be heard and have their ideas portrayed. Either side trying to diminish that or hide that is bad. I may not like hearing some of the things that I do, or I know other people don’t like hearing criticism on their political party or some of their beliefs. However, that doesn’t mean you get to just shove it under the rug and hide it because you don’t want to hear it. They all have the opportunity to be heard.

When moving onto Kaitlin Bennett, Vitoria saw it differently due to Bennett’s history of instigating and the message associated with her.

“I didn’t know what happened until a couple of weeks later. I’ve seen a lot of tweets on my social media saying ‘Why was gun girl at UCF?’ I said, ‘Gun girl? What?’”

Vitoria did not want to give Bennett any attention. When she saw that she came on campus a couple of weeks later, she questioned, ‘Why?’

I feel that going into that situation, she should’ve known better. Coming back was even a worse decision. For the first time, okay, she came. She tried. They said ‘No.’ Walk away. Coming back again after knowing the reaction you got is just a stupid decision. She’s just trying to instigate more anger to make something happen.

Vitoria believes that there need to be more regulations on firearms and background checks. However, she doesn’t think they should be banned.

They just need to be better regulations and better ways to ensure who is getting them. Make sure that it is done properly and that we’re not just giving them out like candy.

Although Vitoria cannot vote, she still gets involved in the political process by sharing resources on social media and reminds her friends.

My friends are sick of me telling them to vote. I say ‘November 3rd is coming up, don’t forget!’ I actively spread information to ensure everyone has access to it. If I hear someone spreading fake news and everyone believes them, I’ll tell them that’s not what happened. I recommend them to research it, or I correct them. I think it’s everyone’s duty to be informed at the very least of what’s going on. Especially since the policies passed affect everyone.

Vitoria sees voting by mail as the best option due to COVID-19. She thinks voting, in general, has ways to go before it is perfected. Electronic means, such as signing in with social security numbers online is one example she provided. She said this method would remove the issue of ballots getting lost in the mail.

In her home country, Brazil, people are automatically registered to vote, with parental permission allowing for sixteen-year-olds and those 18 and up to do so. Brazil has compulsory voting, which means if someone doesn’t vote, they have to pay a fine.

We [Brazil] vote by electronic earns. People treat voting as a chore that they have to do, or they say ‘I don’t want to do it, I’m gonna skip it.’ I don’t think a lot of people here understand how much it does matter. I see it in Brazil, where a lot of people don’t care, and they vote for the first person on the ballot. The effects on that in government have been horrible over there. Over here, people — for the last election — thought Donald Trump was gonna lose. They didn’t think it was serious.

Vitoria considered herself as one of the many people who didn’t think it was possible for the current President to win. She finds random write-ins and joke votes to be such a waste stating that it could’ve impacted the election results.

Vitoria has a lot to say when it comes to her top issues. Women’s right to choose is a major one for her. She doesn’t believe that the government or anyone should anyone else’s body except themselves. She also believes that defense spending is ridiculous and way too much.

That money can be used to benefit so many other programs and organizations that are actually helping the country or even overseas. They could be donating to the Red Cross — or to all of the other organizations — to provide help rather than instigate more war. The rate of homelessness and hunger both in the US and all over the world can be something that can be addressed instead of putting all of that money into making cool bombs and building more guns.

She also found that a lot of governments are detached from their constituents:

They just reach this level and have the mentality of ‘Oh I don’t have to deal with your problems anymore.’ ‘They don’t affect me; I’m not going to care about them.’ I think there needs to be a reality check for members of the government. I see how government works not only here, but I keep up with what goes on in Brazil and other countries where I’ve lived. It makes me want to rip my hair out. It’s all politicians first and not the people first. That doesn’t sit well with me.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

With the mention of government officials, we shifted on how both the President and the Governor have handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Vitoria thinks that there could have been more prevention from the federal government when it came to the virus approaching US land.

The federal government isn’t taking steps and leaves all the big issues to individual states. That is causing a lot of stress on the states and governors, especially Governor DeSantis having to make all the decisions because the federal government has the mindset of ‘Eh, I guess.’

Vitoria disagrees with the Governor’s decision to reopen businesses, bars, and schools allowing children to attend in-person. However, she understands that the economy needs to function, especially because of the working class:

I understand the other side of it because parents are working. They cannot stay home with a 2nd or 3rd grader, so they can do online school. They need to work to pay the bills, and jobs are horrible to find, so it’s not like they can afford to lose it. They also can’t leave their children at the house to do online school. I understand the push in that direction to where many working families need to get their kids back to school or needs things to go on as business, as usual, to keep going. There’s no way you’re ever gonna please everybody. But airing on the side of caution and safety is better than opening the doors and saying ‘Well if we need to fix something later, we’ll fix it.’

Vitoria feels hesitant when it comes to who will be winning this election. However, she feels optimistic due to the polls showing that Biden is up. She doesn’t want to become too invested, because she was one hundred percent confident when it came to 2016.

When I asked my final question on what she would say to encourage others to join her in the middle, she said that everyone wants a better life for their kids and families, stating:

Don’t just look and say ‘I need it, and if I don’t get it, it’s the end of the world.’ Try to reach halfway. This goes for both sides. For conservatives, you don’t need that many tax write-offs. For liberals, understand how potentially the idea of universal free healthcare and right now this second is not feasible and is something that needs to be worked toward with baby steps. Instead of ‘Abolish everything and do it now!’ I think both parties need to come to a consensus, address issues, and find ways to meet in the middle because if not, they will only make policies that benefit one side. The whole other huge side of the population is going to have issues. That is not the right way for a government to lead its people.”

Once Vitoria graduates from UCF, she plans on getting her master’s in Psychology to do something that combines law and psychology.

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