Political Interviews With UCF Students: Progressive Edition

Progressives face a dilemma when it comes to both ends of the political system. They face moderate Democrats who believe they are not showing enough support when it comes to Presidential elections. They also face Conservatives who paint them as extreme for wanting policies such as Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and free college. The Progressive movement has been growing with many popular figures such as AOC, Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, Elizabeth Warren, and most importantly Bernie Sanders. I interviewed University of Central Florida student, Evan, to understand his stances through his progressive point of view.

Evan is a freshman who majors in Engineering. He is from Homosassa, Citrus County, the whitest county in Florida.

However, when it comes to identifying with a political party, he doesn’t identify with any sole party but described himself as closer to the Democratic Party’s progressive end.

Evan considers himself to be on the Left. When I asked him what kind of a leftist he was, he describes himself as a general leftist.

My beliefs take a little bit from each different section. I’m dipping my toes in each, but I’m not jumping into any of their pools.

When talking about his political upbringing and his beliefs, he mentioned being neurologically disabled.

I have a couple of sets of neurological disabilities that affect me in different ways. My mother is an SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist). My mother operates a small private SLP practice in Citrus County. She’s done a lot of disability advocacy. She’s worked with a law office that does both disabled and education law as an expert witness. That affected my upbringing because one of the biggest things is that by nature of me being disabled, I want people to have the opportunity to have access to things. I don’t mean that everybody gets the same thing. I mean equity, where people are given accommodations in a different way so that it’s made leveled on the top. Equity versus equality, essentially.

With a combination of free reign on the internet and the encouragement of free-thinking from his parents, Evan developed his own economic positions.

I do not have anything wrong with the privatization of aspects of government that theoretically could be run better as a business. My issue comes in when you combine privatization with a decrease in regulation. In order for it to be successful and actually beneficial to the country as a whole, you have to be able to regulate as the government.

When mentioning his family, he stated that his parents were centrists and that both he and his brother are left-leaning.

But in some topics, he [Evan’s brother] takes a farther stance in mind, in other times I take a farther stance than him. It just trades off when it comes to who has a further or central stance.

He sees his views on religion as a little bit weird, stating:

I don’t have anything wrong with religion. Everyone should have the ability to practice the religion that they have. My issue is using your religion when it affects the greater public. I want to get rid of the ability to use religion as an exemption for certain types of medical treatment. While I understand it is your body, if there is something related to your family, your child, or your partner’s physical well-being, your religion shouldn’t stop you from that. Your religion shouldn’t be able to be used for that.

When we jumped into the topic of the media, Evan felt that it hasn’t represented everyone who falls under the progressive side of the Democratic party. Most importantly, he noted that it wasn’t necessarily an inaccurate portrayal either, stating:

A lot of the people base their political views points based on people who they trust. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. It’s just that is what is represented often instead of people who actually have educated opinions or a solid backing of knowledge about the different topics in order to back their opinion up. It’s more of the representation of knowledge that is an issue rather than the representation of it as a whole. There’s decent representation when it comes to mindshare. It’s the type of mindshare that is where it’s not where it should be.

Evan describes mindshare as the number of thoughts, both active and passive that someone or something takes up in a population.

“The mindshare of Donald Trump from the perspective of people that are more Democratic party is that he is a racist, misogynistic bigot. And that he should be voted out of office and that he should have been impeached. But there’s more than just that, but that’s what in the mindshare.”

When discussing Trump’s influence on the progressive end of the Democratic party, Evan has seen it in both negative and positive lights.

The progressive movement has been a lot more noticed because of the fact that the views that Donald Trump holds and has acted on in office, versus the views of the progressive end of the democrat party are so polarizing that people have been hopping onto the movement. It has given it more outreach and more mindshare. It’s been bad because, under his presidency, a lot of people who share similar views as me have been the brunt of various schemes.

When I asked him what these schemes were, he stated:

Mass attempts in the disenfranchisement of disabled children and public-school systems. Polling places, by not him, himself [Trump] but those who listen to his command at the state and local levels. California’s Republican party put up fake ballot boxes. When they got called out for committing voter fraud, they said they were just going to continue. Essentially what they been trying to do is not necessarily target individuals but hurt the potency they have during the next election cycle.

Next, I asked Evan his opinion of Trump Derangement Syndrome:

It exists, but not in the way it’s stated in media. It’s not necessarily that the people who hate him as part of this are irrational. It’s that their thoughts have been based off of bandwagoning or the court of public opinion rather than a true reason.

When we discussed what issues he had with both parties, he mentioned the idea of sub parties within both of them, stating:

Some sub parties have a much bigger visual impact on others. When you look at the Democratic party, there are some sub parties that are seen much more often than other portions. It’s for one simple reason: those sub parties are the ones with more money. When it comes to political advertisement and voting people into office. One of the biggest things that you need is funding for political campaigns. When you can actually fund a political campaign, your side gets a little bit more represented. The sub parties that do in this scenario are more closer to the center than to the left end. Those are the ones right now with a larger sum of money able to be spent on campaigns and political funds. That’s why they have a bigger representation. I don’t like the idea of money being the determining factor for who gets the bigger representation.

When it comes to what direction the Democratic party is going to, Evan said there is a slow shift to the left.

It’s not something that you see talked about in the news because the people with money want to make sure that their candidates can get elected. Once the monetary end shifts, that slow shift will be shown.

Evan is a freshman, so he wasn’t aware of the Ben Shapiro event that would have taken place had it not been for COVID-19. His views, however, takes a turn that some may find surprising.

You should have the right to express your opinion. Obviously, the right to express your opinion doesn’t mean you have the right to be free from the consequences of expressing your opinion. I think there should be a platform nonetheless, especially when there is an institution that has federal money involved. When it comes to Ben Shapiro coming on campus, I don’t have an issue. Obviously, if there were counter-protests, I would’ve gone to see what would have happened. If things went south, I probably wouldn’t want to be there because I would prefer to go through my college life without getting arrested. I don’t have any problems with any well-known political figure on either side coming to campus or anywhere that has political funding. If they didn’t accept him on the bias of his political stance, I would’ve had an issue of that because that’s not a great sign in general. Yes, it’s to a person that is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to me, but it’s a bad sign in general because if you start denying one person, that can start to open up the floodgates.

For Kaitlin Bennett, he didn’t have an issue with her being on campus in principle.

I was actually there during her the second visit and got interviewed by someone from the Nicolson School of Media. What I said there and what I will say now is I have no issue with her protesting. I have no issue with her coming to campus. What I do have an issue with is her reason. Her reason was that conservatives at UCF were being silenced or weren’t able to express their opinion without things happening. As I said earlier, you are free to your opinion. She can express her opinion all she wants — anyone can express their opinion all they want — however it does not save you from the consequences. I’m not going to injure someone if they say some really extreme thing. I’m not going to physically respond to someone, for example, if they say ‘Eugenics was good’ or ‘Hitler wasn’t all that bad’. However, I’m not going to listen to them either because I don’t have to. They can express their opinion, but I’m not required to listen in response.

Evan disagrees with both Bennett and Shapiro when it comes to many things such as disability, healthcare, the right to abortion, and the space program. However, one thing he doesn’t disagree with them on is with the second amendment.

I believe that people should be able to have access to guns. When it comes to the more gray areas — like the newer debate on the legality of firearms parts made from 3D printers and the files that they’re made from — I don’t necessarily have an issue with that because there’s nothing legally that can be done. I believe in stricter gun regulations, I believe there should be better background checks. There should be a mental check every once in a while to make sure they are okay. That goes in hand with my views on mental health and disabilities.

Evan voted by mail for Joe Biden:

Because in this current political environment when voting for a third party, whoever is politically farther away from the other two will have more votes skewed in their favor because of how distribution works.”

It’s why he doesn’t enjoy a three-party system. He further explains that Joe Biden is his best option out of a multi-party system with two large parties:

If they shifted to where there is a four-party system that was relatively equally distributed between the four parties when it comes to political views, or there are more than that, then my vote would have changed. Because we are in a two-party system now, in the United States, I voted for Joe Biden.

Since Evan voted by mail, I had to ask him about mail-in voting:

The arguments that the President made against mail-in voting have no founding when it comes to how it works and the percentages of voter fraud. As we’re in the middle of a pandemic — we hit our third peak during the past two days or so — I would highly suggest everyone to do some kind of mail-in or absentee ballot. Obviously, that is something that the President doesn’t want. You either vote by mail-in and essentially do a method that has been bashed in recent times — and most likely after the election — or you vote in person, and you wait in extremely long lines. I passed by an election center today, and the line was a quarter of a mile out from the door. You take the risk related to high heat or risk being exposed to COVID-19.

Evan thinks Governor Ron DeSantis’ action — when it has comes to COVID-19 — is an extension of how the President has been handling it:

His original idea wasn’t the worst idea but it wasn’t what should’ve been done as a response to a global pandemic. If one is to do that one form of reaction, you must be working on different precautions and health measures when taking that kind of stance.

He also said the President clearly didn’t prep while downplaying:

Because of that, cases keep rising, while in other countries they mostly gotten rid of it.

With the discussion of local and state politics, he brought up the constitutional amendments as well as his positions on each one:

Amendment One:

There’s no functional difference in people being able to vote. It’s just the original reasoning is for it to be a thing is that it's xenophobic in nature. Xenophobia is an antithesis to my views.

Amendment Two:

I voted yes because the current minimum wage we have in Florida even when it’s been adjusted for inflation is not where a minimum wage should be much less a living wage. While I don’t like how long it takes, that’s the best we’re going to get in this current period.

Amendment Three:

I voted yes because I don’t like two-party systems. I don’t believe America should be based on political systems that don’t accurately represent the body and beliefs of the populous.

Evan voted no on Amendment four because “it reduces the effective power we as Floridians have over our state’s laws.” He also voted yes on both Amendments Five and Six because of there not being a justifiable opposition. He saw these amendments as generally good things.

Evan’s top issues are for the disability rights movement to have a second wave and a larger push toward a nationalized, single system healthcare system that would slowly eliminate privatized institutions like Blue Cross Blue Shield. He also homed in on reducing the military’s budget:

Taking anywhere from a five to ten percent chunk of the current military’s current budget. Take that money and put it in different forms of poverty-based programs or things that have a direct return on investments on the economy.

He would want some of their money to go to NASA:

When it comes to things like their tech transport program, that alone justifies the cost.

When I mentioned the protests that have been going on since May, Evan stated that things become grayer farther down the timeline.

Things were originally peaceful. The issue was they weren’t getting the screen share they have now. When it comes to modern politics, if you don’t have screen share, it’s almost impossible to get your views adopted by the masses. So, unfortunately, the people apart of those protests had to go to violent measures.

Evan reiterated that he is not a violent person.

It’s almost something that had to be done. I don’t condone it because condoning essentially ruining small businesses’ livelihoods is not something I would wish on by any means. But it is, unfortunately, a necessary step when it comes to these situations. I would love to see some form of community help afterward to help rebuild small businesses. I would love to see some form of government outreach from those affected by the protests. That would be a great measure in public relations in terms of general view of the government and candidates for reelection, and just great in general. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.

I asked Evan a fundamental question when it came to the ideology of being a leftist. Many people see it as too extreme and apply negative connotations to socialism, anarchism, and communism.

When it comes to those governments — who have all failed for one reason or another — it all comes down to a single concept: the human element. Every form of government on paper — it doesn’t matter whether it’s a theocracy, autocracy, democracy, socialism, or communism — it doesn’t matter what form of government you’re looking at — on paper, they always seem to be executing well and seem to have a good probability. The issue comes in as soon as you add a human element. As soon as you add a human element, things go south. You can never fully eliminate the human element. The reason why I have my views is to take that human element and try to use it in a way that produces a government that doesn’t fail because of the human element — and therefore trying to minimize the negative impact the human element has on the kind of government that I would like to see.

I asked Evan why should someone like myself or others have similar views to his. He said he would convince others in the same way he would convince people on other topics:

Just sit down and have a chat with me. I want to be able to have very down to earth conversations about stuff like this. I’m not one to have heated discussions. Even if you have views that are highly opposed to mine, I’m the type of person that can still sit down, have a chat, and have a drink or two with you.

We ended our conversation about leftism, with whether someone can be both a leftist and pro-capitalist, and this is what he had to say:

You don’t have to be for abolishing capitalism to be on the left side. There are certain groups of leftism that by nature or by their philosophy that you have to be anti-capitalist. I’m personally not against capitalism primarily because of my career and the people that I know careers’ — our lives do depend somewhat on capitalism. Our jobs are based on markets. So, if you are to abolish capitalism, you would also be abolishing a surprisingly large amount of positions.

When it comes to who will be winning this election, he couldn’t tell me.

You can do your best to estimate how some populations will vote one way or another, but when it comes to the entire whole of the United States, there are too many variables to account for with the technology, we currently have access to. When it comes to creating the formulas for different events and how they affect the probability, we don’t have the ability to do that yet.

When it comes to his time at UCF, Evan is debating on double majoring in material and mechanical engineering or getting an accelerated master’s. Regardless, he has the chance to graduate a year early. After UCF, he sees him involved in instrumental design in the future, which he describes as the design development, production, and manufacturing of musical instruments.

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