With election season coming to an end, I interviewed students all throughout the political spectrum from the University of Central Florida to get their opinions, insight, and views when it comes to not only the presidential candidates, but their positions in general. Here are eight students who allowed me to interview them about their feelings and perspectives on American politics. Since these interviews are long, the complete length of each will be available on Medium.
Daniel, from Jacksonville, Florida, identifies as a Libertarian. He is a freshman at UCF who majors in kinesiology, but is debating on changing to computer science. Although he is a registered Republican, he states that he has become more moderate over the years but wanted to stay within the party to participate in primaries.
When discussing the pros and cons when it comes to each party, he said his massive issue is that they criticize each other on everything. When it comes to Democrats, he doesn’t like their economical stances, like 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.”
His top issues are gun rights and taxes, and he plans on voting for Jo Jorgenson, the Libertarian's Presidential Candidate. "She supports a lot of the social issues that Democrats do, and a lot of the economic issues that Republicans do."
He feels mixed on who will win, stating, “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.”
Read the full interview with Daniel here.
Evan is a freshman who majors in engineering at the University of Central Florida. He is from Homosassa, Citrus County, which is known as the whitest county in the state of Florida. Evan considers himself to be on the progressive end of the Democratic party. He described himself as a general leftist, stating:
“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.”
Evan believes that both Bennett and Shapiro have the right to speak due to the First Amendment. However, he disagrees with them when it comes to many things, such as disabilities, healthcare, the right to abortion, and the space program. However, one thing he doesn’t disagree with them on is the second amendment. “I believe that people should be able to have access to guns. I believe in stricter gun regulations and that there should be better background checks."
I asked him if someone can be both a leftist and pro-capitalist. He stated, “You don’t have to be for abolishing capitalism to be on the left side. There are certain groups of leftism that by nature, by their philosophy, you have to be anti-capitalist. I’m personally not against capitalism primarily because of my career and a lot of the people that I know — our lives do depend somewhat on capitalism. Our jobs are based on markets. So, if you are to abolish capitalism, you would be also abolishing a surprisingly large amount of positions.”
Read the full interview with Evan here.
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.
Despite the backlash that came with Ben Shapiro’s event and funding, Vitoria thought the event should have gone due to balance. “If it was the other side and Bernie Sanders came to campus and Student Government was funding him, the other side would get upset and would say, ‘You didn’t fund our thing!' I think they all deserve equal funding and an equal opportunity to be heard."
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. For conservatives, you don’t need that many tax write-offs. For liberals, understand how, potentially, the idea of universal free healthcare right now, this second, is not feasible and is something that needs to be worked toward with baby steps.
Read the full interview with Vitoria here.
Victoria is a senior majoring in political science with a minor in global peace & security and a certificate in national intelligence & security. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but came to Orlando when she was 2 years old. Victoria identifies as a leftist and has no party affiliation.
“I’m not a liberal. Sometimes, I’ll say that I’m a Marxist. In my experience, we [leftists] don’t have one person whose ideology we follow. It’s a mixture of everything. A lot of my education and radicalization came from following black radicals on Twitter. A lot of us wouldn’t be where or who we are without them. Because of that, we owe it to them to be continuously fighting against these oppressive systems and to understand that our place will always be to uplift brown and black voices.”
When I asked Victoria about her political upbringing, she talked about her livelihood. “Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. I went to an elementary school that had predominately rich white kids. I made friends with those kids. Going to an actual house for the first time was really impressive to me. I saw their pantry with a lot of snacks and multiple boxes of open cereals. That really shaped me in the sense where I was like, ‘Wow, people are living significantly different lives.”
Victoria thinks there is a huge misconception on what communism truly is, stating, “We all wear the same clothes. That we’re all authoritarian government and we can’t think for ourselves. No. That is not what it is. The point is to have this freedom from being exploited. It’s not radical to want people to live good, healthy, and fulfilling lives. The issue is that we’ve always been accustomed to people having to work for crumbs. We have this idea in our head that it’s radical for people to want more. It’s radical for people to want better things for not just themselves, but other people.”
Read the full interview with Victoria here.
TaTiana is a senior who majors in creative writing with a minor in theatre. She is also a staff writer for Her Campus at UCF. The closest political label that she adheres to is liberal.
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 female. 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 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 that is helping the working class, people of color, and the LGBT community. My support would have gone to Bernie if he won.”
Read the full interview with TaTiana here.
Vanessa is from West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a second-year student, but credit-wise, she is a junior. She majors in psychology with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is a conservative Republican and a Trump supporter.
Vanessa shared her political upbringing with me by starting off with her parents, who escaped socialism and communism from Poland. “When they came to America, they had nothing. They built the American Dream. They built their life from the ground up. They came with very little with my sister as a 6-month old baby. Their views were really what shaped mine.”
I asked Vanessa her thoughts about the Ben Shapiro event that would have taken place back in March but was canceled due to COVID-19. “I definitely think he should have been permitted to speak here. I think that one of the most important things is sustaining the idea of free speech. You can’t simply disregard somebody. I think it’s very ignorant to hate that someone is coming to your school because they disagree with you. If you are confident in your opinion and beliefs, I don’t think you should be so threatened by somebody who has a different belief than you."
Vanessa supports the President because of his conservative morals and his value for free markets and capitalism. "He encourages people to live the way that America was built and founded.”
Read the full interview with Vanessa here.
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. She identifies between being a liberal and a leftist.
Genevieve has heard the argument for Trump Derangement Syndrome before, but she doesn’t think it exists. “They just use the argument that he’s going to drain the swamp. He’s going to get rid of the corrupt. We have literally witnessed the exact opposite. I think they use that to derail from everything he has done to shift the blame.”
Genevieve’s most important issues are climate change, Black Lives Matter, equality and healthcare. “I think they 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.”
She also went to protests and explains why they are so important. “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 or harm a cop in any way. That’s why so many people are going on the streets to protest. Where is funding really going, when so many innocent black lives are being taken from police who are not trained adequately?”
Read the full interview with Genevieve here.
Micheal is a senior who studies political science with a pre-law track from Clearwater, Florida. He identifies as a conservative Republican with moderate ounces. Micheal comes from a poor family. All of his family members are Democrats who are not pleased with Trump, with the exception of his dad, who is more moderate.
"What led me to be a conservative Republican is the idea that people like my family members exist. They take advantage of these programs. The problem with these social welfare programs — which are usually put in place by Democrats — is [that] the intent is there, but the control isn’t. There is so much fraud that goes on."
Micheal states that media such as CNN or MSNBC, stereotypically label Republicans as being racist or hateful. “I’m not a racist. I don’t like racists and I don’t care for them. The idea of generalizing everyone into one group is a terrible idea. It’s like saying all Democrats are exactly the same, which they’re not. There are moderate democrats. There are liberal democrats. There are conservative democrats. There are republicans who aren’t racist. There are people who like Trump who aren’t racist. Or homophobic, xenophobic, or anything similar.”
Micheal’s most important platform relates to economics, however criminal justice reform and universal or affordable healthcare (through private companies) are important to him as well.
Read the full interview with Micheal here.
Regardless of who you are voting for, this election is bound to be the tensest one yet. Make sure that if you haven't voted yet, you have a plan. If you aren't aware of how things work in your area, be sure to check out Vote.org for personalized options.
Full interviews are all linked to Medium.