With the turbulent 2020 election coming to a close, many are going through the paradox of being both worried and optimistic about the nation’s country’s future. With things becoming more polarized than ever, many feel that there are only two sides: Democrat or Republican. However, with this one student I interviewed from the University of Central Florida, he shows this is not always the case.
Daniel from Jacksonville, Florida, identifies as a Libertarian. He is a Freshman at UCF who majors in Kinesiology but is debating on changing it to Computer Science. Although he is a registered Republican, he states that he has become more moderate over the years and wanted to stay within the party to participate in primaries.
Daniel shared with me that his political upbringing did not only relate to his parents but also the environment that he came from, stating:
I was in a very Republican town, Green Cove Springs — pretty much everyone knows that most people there are Trump supporters — so I just kinda went along with that. I followed the crowd freshman, sophomore, and junior year especially. However, senior year was when I started to realize that maybe I’m not always right with everything that I think.
He also mentioned that the news that was watched was selective: “You just watch the same things, and you keep getting into that mindset.” He started to branch out to not only watching Conservative content but others along the political spectrum. He reached out to different people who held different perspectives as well. From there, he came up with a consensus:
“You know what? The correct answers to these issues are kind of in the middle.”
When we dove into discussing the media. He felt that the news was showing more of a negative outlook rather than a positive one:
The problem with the media is that they try so hard to come up with the latest and greatest story. ‘Oh my goodness, this is the craziest thing that ever happened!’ So, they blow everything out of proportion. Anger is a much more powerful emotion than loving and happiness, so they want to portray a lot of negative things.”
He also believes that libertarians don’t get enough representation in the media, stating:
“People don’t really talk about them. Most people really see it as a two-party game. Yeah, those are the two big parties, so I understand that. But not enough representation for these people [Libertarians]. If people saw them, they would agree with those values.
He noted that the mainstream media has problems when it comes to addressing conservatives:
“I think conservatives definitely have some problems with the media. It is clearly supporting Joe Biden for the most part.”
In March, Political commentator, Ben Shapiro was supposed to come to UCF’s campus through Young America’s Foundation. However, the event was postponed due to COVID-19. Although Daniel did not attend UCF at the time, he didn’t mind Shapiro coming on campus, disclosing:
“I know Kaitlin Bennett came a while ago. I understand why people dislike both of these figures. However, as long as they are not inciting violence or actively doing anything to harm people. I don’t see a problem. I would probably attend just to see what he talks about.”
During our zoom call, we discussed the current incumbent, President Donald J. Trump. I asked Daniel his take when it came to the President. He stated that he supported his economic policies. However, he doesn’t like how he phrases his words, calling them very decisive, which in turn alienates many people.
When we moved onto the discussion of Trump Derangement Syndrome, he had a lot to say:
I do think Trump Derangement Syndrome is definitely a thing. They don’t give him a break. They don’t let him have a good day. He does do good things objectively. But they never really comment on that.
He further detailed that doesn’t mean the President doesn’t have his screwups:
I’ll be the first to admit that he does have his screwups, and I think they’re right [media] when they do that. But they are just relentless. Everything he does is that he’s just bad and awful. But I don’t think that’s really the case.
When discussing both parties’ pros and cons, he said his massive issue is that they criticize each other on everything. When it comes to Democrats, he doesn’t like their economic policies such as tax increases to higher-income people:
I think a flat tax rate would be more fair. The more money you earn, the more money I think you deserve to keep.
However, he agrees with Democrats when it comes to their social policies, such as with inclusion and marijuana. He states that he isn’t a huge build the wall person when it comes to immigration. Nonetheless, he believes that there needs to be security at the border.
Daniel pays more attention to state and federal politics compared to local. Despite this, he knows it is worthwhile:
The people who affect your daily life are the local officials. It’s probably more important to focus on them. I don’t think I do as much. It’s not as big or exciting or as crazy.
Daniel listed gun rights and taxes as his top political issues. During his early years in high school — specifically as a junior — he was big on being pro-life. Nevertheless, he has mellowed on the position:
I see more on both sides now. I’m not as adamant on that anymore.
With the mention of abortion rights, we touched upon religious beliefs, with me asking if they have influenced his politics at any time:
They used to, to some extent, but not as much as some people on both sides. Now not really.
When it comes to the protests that erupted due to the murder of George Floyd and other black people who face police brutality, Daniel stated that he generally agreed with them. He doesn’t like what small businesses are going through, however:
I definitely agree with the protests in general. The idea of the protest and what they are fighting for, I agree with. Protesting against brutality is, of course, a good thing. It was an awful thing that happened. I don’t necessarily agree with the rioting and looting that has happened to private businesses that had nothing to deal with the incident at all. It’s not their fault that a few police are bad people. I think anger should be more directed toward the government or the people who actually did the thing. The small business down the street that’s trying to make ends meet didn’t kill him. They didn’t deserve that. A lot of times, the small businesses support Black Lives Matter. They’re just burned to the ground anyways because they are at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s very unfortunate for them.
When I asked Daniel who he thought would be winning the upcoming election. He started out by saying, “If I had to bet right now” but paused, then moving onto how Biden is polling well in many states:
The polls are showing that Biden is ahead. But the polls also said that Hillary was ahead. So, it’s kind of hard to tell. If I had to guess, I would say that Biden might win, but not because I necessarily want him to win. But time will tell.
He also mentioned Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election, which is who Daniel plans on voting for this time around:
Jo Jorgenson is pretty awesome. I like her a lot. She’s the one who best represents my values. The Libertarian Party has been rising in popularity for the past three elections. If I can help bring about a major third party, I’m down for that. In a perfect world, she would win. But that’s probably not going to happen.
Daniel plans to vote early in person. However, he understands the concept of voting by mail because some people cannot go due to the fear of COVID:
I think if you want your vote to definitely be secure, I would just recommend doing it in person. If you’re able to go outside and order McDonald’s, I think you’re able to go vote. I’m sure it [voting by mail] is mostly secure. I don’t think it would be as secure as voting in person. You can see the ballot going in. It’s inherently less secure voting by mail because stuff gets lost in the mail all the time.
Daniel feels positive about the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts when it comes to handling the pandemic, but still does not enjoy his rhetoric:
Trump’s policies, for the most part, were good. But some of his rhetoric was not good. I think stopping travel from a lot of the different countries that seemed to have a lot of it [COVID-19 cases] was good. He did have some of the companies build ventilators for people when hospitals were short. China did have some dishonesty about the exact numbers they were dealing with, which definitely threw them off [the Trump Administration]. His rhetoric sometimes such as saying ‘We’re just about done.’ ‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ was bad. I understand he didn’t want to cause panic and for everyone to go crazy. Still, I think he should have been more like ‘We’re going to have it under control most likely, but just stay safe.’ from the beginning. He’s saying that more now. He also hasn’t been consistent when it has come to mask-wearing; he waited a while to tell people to wear masks, which isn’t ideal.”
For Governor Ron DeSantis’ work, Daniel felt neutral, stating that he simply followed what the President told him to do. Daniel knows that COVID-19 is difficult:
You can do all the things that you want, but at the end of the day, it’s a virus. It’s gonna do what a virus will do. There are things that you can do to try to prevent it, but it’s kinda hard.
As a final question, I asked Daniel how he would convince someone to become a libertarian:
I actually did a speech on this for my speech class informing about third parties and why they can be more in-line with your values. A lot of articles and surveys I read — and the survey I did on some of my classmates — showed that people aren’t fond of the two-party system. They don’t like having to pick between the lesser of two evils. I would say, hey, there’s more than two. Look into the libertarian candidate. She supports a lot of the social issues that Democrats do and a lot of the economic issues that Republicans do. She’s for freedom and the legalization of drugs. She supports Black Lives Matter. All the good stuff. She’s more in line with younger people’s values than Joe Biden.
After his time at UCF, Daniel sees himself possibly becoming a computer programmer or IT guy. On the other hand, he also has some other career options — such as becoming a teacher — since he enjoys communicating with others. Being a personal trainer is another potential thing on his list since he is currently studying Kinesiology. During this semester, he is also tackling astronomy, which is a potential path that he might explore further down the road as well.