Trumps new immigration ban: a more moderate approach

On Monday morning President Trump released the new and reformed version of his January immigration ban, a controversial executive action that received major criticism both domestically and abroad.

With much surprise, the new reform is much more subtle in its intent clearly showing the power of the people’s outcry against the original version. But, before we get into what the new order says, I would like to start by informing my audience the power of the people is still within our grasps.

The absolute backlash of the last order clearly shook A LOT of heads around the world, which included republicans skeptical of the order. On my last post about the immigration ban, I was very stern in my criticism. I stand by what I stated before: the immigration was doomed from the start by its poor execution. It was unclear, lazy in its approach, and more so, caused confusion within the Department of Homeland Security about how to execute the order.  Legal residents, green card holders and Visa holders were barred from entering the U.S., a highly illegal action made by the administration.

Let us all be clear with something. This is NOT a “travel” ban, but a ban on immigration.

There is a strict distinction between an immigrant, a traveler and a refugee and the rhetoric needs to change as a lot of these terms are thrown together interchangeably. For starters, immigrates go through a strict vetting process which can take over two years to complete. Immigrants also usually come from countries where the government is functional, but the people choose to leave by choice (most of the time). This is important, because when a country has a substantially functional government, it is easy to compile information of the people seeking immigration status as records are easier to come across. This is exactly why am I so against this “extreme vetting” that the president so eagerly wishes to adopt. The vetting process is already tedious and timely. In the post-911 era the United States government has been extremely successful in combatting foreign terrorism. We have the best security in the world, hands down. “Extreme vetting” is a paradox in itself as the current measures are already extreme in a lot of senses.

Refugees come from countries that are usually in civil war, through government reform, plagued by famine (outdated) or in a state of war. Syria is a country with a high number of refugees because the government lost control of its own land against ISIS, to keep it simplified. Since the government of Syria is barely a functional entity, what vetting process is there to execute? These people have no records, no tracking, and can pose a threat to national security. In most cases, it is hard to track and monitor refugees’ behaviors simply by the nature of the native state.

This is why I am okay with not letting in refugees into the United States. Europe is proof that these kinds of integration laws don’t work when the people are so culturally different. We don’t need that problem here in the United States. Notice how I said I was “okay” with not letting refugees in. It’s painful to see what these people have to go through, but until there is a way to apply a vetting process to these refugees, it is in the best interest of the United States to keep them out.

Immigrants, however, do go through the vetting process, and for me, if they pass the requirements, should be allowed to enter the United States. We need immigrants. This is a land of immigrant and it will forever be that way. Refugees are NOT immigrants, so people need to be a little more careful with the rhetoric.

Okay, lets get into it:

The New Order:

Interesting enough, the new executive order, which will go into effect on March 16, is more moderate in its approach. For starters, there are now six countries on the ban, all of the same from last time excluding Iraq.

Looking into the text, the Trump administration is allowing previously accepted refugees to enter the United States, but is limiting the number to 50,000. To me, that number is very high, but to a lot of people on the left, this should be calming to you. When 50,000 refugees will be allowed to enter, it’s hard to argue that the United States isn’t trying its best to meet in the middle of the issue.

The new order doesn’t give priority to religious minorities (mainly Christians), a highly controversial topic of discussion on the last order.

The new order also lifts the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees to 120 days along with the rest of the countries.

Further information will be presented as this story progresses, but until now, this is all we know.

Concluding thoughts:

The administration clearly put more thought into complying the new order together looking at a more moderate approach to the issue.

Still, it only feels the current revision is a test to what the order should have been from the start, maybe saving the administration some headache from the backlash that followed. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change what was already done, and the pain still lingers for a lot of people. But I firmly believe it goes to show that Trump cannot simply do as he pleases. This reform is proof of a more tempered approach, something I hope everyone could appreciate.

Finally, the ban is still controversial in its own right, and although I’m not fully sold on the intent considering the president has stated he wants a ban on “Muslims,” this is exponentially better than what we got in January.

~

Sorry about the lack of content lately…senior year is kicking my ass. I’ll do a follow up when more information is presented.

 

-Exsar Misael

 

 

McMaster is a hopeful replacement for Flynn

 

file-usa-trump-abe-press-conference.jpg
Michael Flynn before resignation. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo (EPA)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, the nation eagerly waited on who Donald Trump would pick as the next National Security Advisor. And with much surprise, the new pick may be of some importance for the Trump administration. Army Lieutenant General H.R McMaster is a man whose experience in the armed forces has given him a different perspective on the “war on Islam”—rhetoric chief strategy advisor Steve Bannon so eagerly chooses to use.

For the new pick, there are two major takeaways that the American people should be aware of: McMaster’s experience and how that molds his potential world views, and his take on Russia-American relations.

Middle East:

McMaster’s experience in the Middle East during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Commander of the Army shape the way he views Islam as a whole. In 2005, in an attempt to retake the city of Tal Afar which bordered Iraq and Syria, McMaster had his troops dress in traditional Arab clothing to blend in to the environment. He also taught his soldiers how to walk into a home and determine if the residents were Sunni or Shiite Muslims. McMaster is also on record for commanding his troops not to refer to locals as “hajjis”, a racial slur used to identify Muslims who take pilgrim to Mecca, showing his respect to the people and culture.

This firsthand understanding, respect and strategy McMaster has displayed in his deployment shows the kind of mind he has: one that will not plague an entire religion for the fault of few, an issue a lot of members of Trump’s cabinet cannot seem to distinguish. Furthermore, McMaster does not have a political mind. He is military. And that experience gives this administration a head who can actually speak on behalf of terrorism from a personal level and one that isn’t convoluted by an unrealistic vision of the enemy we are fighting. McMaster understands and fundamentally believes that plaguing an entire religion on the faults of a few can actually be detrimental to foreign relations. McMaster is on record for stating that Trump’s rhetoric regarding “bombing Islam into oblivion” only fuels fire for terrorism. This rhetoric also further divides the American people from understanding the culture and religion of these people.

For the future on combatting terrorism, McMaster will act as the middle ground for a lot of key issues, socially and strategically.

Russia:

Unlike President Trump and Flynn, McMaster is a Russia skeptic, noting the country is not an ally of the United States but an adversary. Last May, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, McMaster cited Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine as evidence of a broader effort “to collapse the post-World War Two, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.” His skepticism on Russia is very outspoken, and reflective of a more “realism” world view of international relations. McMaster’s military experience probably has something to do with his cynical view of the world, and for the United States, this might be the best man for the job in an administration clouded with Russian influence.

Conclusion (opinion):

I actually like this pick by the Trump administration. McMaster is a man of integrity, respect, mutual understanding, and of course his military experience allows for a more realistic approach on how to combat Islamic terrorism (hopefully). I don’t know him personally, so although it is hard for me to speak on his personal traits, on the surface level, he seems to have a lot of credible ideas and philosophy. His respect and understanding of the culture abroad, to me, gives him a lot of credibility. More so, he knows HOW the Middle East operates—culturally and in terms of terrorism.

For Russia, I am on the boat that our Western neighbor deserves more punishment for their actions in Crimea. Naturally, my bias against Russia, which has been stated in previous posts, draws me to McMaster’s words and skepticism. I do not think Russia is an ally. Nor is the country’s involvement in our political system something that should go without notice or action in the future.

Everything I’ve read on McMaster has actually made me more relaxed about the administration’s inner-circle, as I hope he can be the voice against the ideology of President Trump and Stephen Bannon. Let us not forget how Bannon has stated that “every President needs his war.” This rhetoric is inherently dangerous considering the amount of turmoil in the international world, and I hope McMaster’s military experience will help level this thinking.

 

mcmaster-ap_17051722575985_custom-bcfb2a6f5d14d1029f743b28f7047b8f72c959fa.jpg
McMaster and Trump. Photo: CNN

Whether McMaster becomes a puppet for Trump will come in time, but let us not forget Flynn was part of the inner-circle of decision making in the early weeks of administration. I just hope McMaster will also be part of that tight-knit group in order to help moderate some of the discussion happening inside the Oval Office.

I am hopeful, for once.

Best,

-Exsar Misael

Russia has too much influence in American politics

Russia has been in the headlines a lot recently, causing a lot of tension and confusion with the American people on what exactly is going on. Today, I hope to remedy some of those concerns or questions about Russia-American relations.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the election had repeated phone calls with members of Russian intelligence officers. The article immediately grabbed national attention. According to the Times, phone records and intercepted calls by four current and former American officials released the information to the publication.

This all coming after U.S. intelligence agencies stated that Russia leaked democratic emails to sway the election in Trump’s favor. Sergei A. Ryabov, deputy Russian foreign minister, is on record stating that there were contacts between the two parties during the election.

These actions from the Trump campaign are in direct violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which I feel will come into question if more information about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics continues.

Republican South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a critic of Trump’s administration, said on Good Morning America “if it’s true, it is very, very disturbing to me. And Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies, and any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price.”

ABC_021517_LindsayGrahamGMA.jpeg

So, as the American people, where should you have a problem with these interferences in our democracy (if they are true)? The answer lies in the hypocrisy of the administration in power.

On March 18, 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a region that belonged to the Ukraine. To Trump’s backing, I do agree that President Obama was extremely weak regarding the annexation of the territory. The act was a violation of international law under the Agreement on Establishing the Commonwealth of Independent Nations in 1991, and should have been dealt with in such manner. Sanctions should have been the least form of punishment for the Russian’s actions. Vladimir Putin was a former KGB (Soviet Union committee for state security) officer for 16 years and is on the record for stating he wants to move Russia in a more Soviet-esque state.

The Russian President, quite frankly, is embarrassed. And who could you blame him? His great country was stripped of their world dominance when the Soviet Union collapsed, allowing the United States to take control of global influence. The annexation of Crimea is the first step of what may come in the future. Russia seeks power and dominance, and as an American, that makes me fearful. The ideals of the Soviet Union that are still embedded in the mind of Putin is not what the world needs in terms of political ideology.

President Trump was rightfully a critic of the Obama administrations handling of the Crimea region, but ironically, his campaign is being accused of having close administrative discussion during the election. All of which came after several intelligence agencies stated Russia was responsible for leaked democratic emails during the election.

Senator Graham is rightfully critical. It is disheartening to even try and comprehend that the current President is in talks with Russia after the annexation of Crimea. We are not friends with Russia. Our governments are different in so many ways and historically represent different ideology.

What makes the situation a little stickier is Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor after he had discussion with the Russian ambassador on sanctions before Trump even took office.  Flynn, who resigned Monday, was misleading the Vice-President on his discussion with the ambassador. This becomes problematic as even people within the president’s inner-circle are hiding and misleading information about Russian politicians.

Regardless of your political ideology, Russia is way too involved in our political system, and they are getting away with it. I am all for improving relations with Russia, but the country should respect those boundaries set by the international community. They are making the United States look weak, and for reasons we can’t explain, Trump and his administration are at the forefront of the controversy.

F3A840BC-7D43-4C7C-AD95-2B4A8D869906_cx0_cy5_cw0_w1023_r1_s.jpg
Trump-Putin phone call in the Oval Office. Flynn (right) before his resignation.

Sanctions should be set in place by this administration after Russia’s actions during the election. Interfering in our politics, regardless of who was at service, needs to be punished. It makes our nation look weak at the hand of Russian influence. China in the South China Sea, and now Russia’s interference will make for great foreign policy discussions in the near future. I am eager to see what new information is released on these matters.

Let me know what you all think! Hope you enjoyed the read.

Best,

Exsar Misael

Morning briefing: Immigration Ban has been lifted

After over 48 hours of patiently waiting, the world finally has an answer to the recent controversy surrounding President Trump’s immigration ban. On Feb. 9, the 9th circuit court of the United States refused to reinstate President Trump’s Immigration ban, marking the president’s first big legal loss since taking office.

Today I want to focus on two key aspects of the discussion:

  1. What did the court decide and what was the legal question at stake? What comes next after the decision?
  2. Where did Trump go wrong? (Opinion)

The United States is split into 13 circuit courts. Each circuit has a few states that belong to its jurisdiction.  More importantly, if a state in a particular circuit rules in a specific fashion, then all the other states in the circuit must follow the precedent of that state. Confusing? Let me break it down.

For example, the 5th circuit court of the United States comprises of Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. If the circuit court of Texas decided to rule against state funded abortions, then the other two states in the circuit will follow suit.

The 9th circuit court includes the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho Montana, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Simply put, the decision from the 9th circuit court is not a surprise by any stretch of the imagination. The states represented in the 9th circuit are by in large, liberal. Interesting enough, the three judges who ruled on the immigration policy all ruled unanimously against the ban, 3-0. A 29-page concurring opinion basically stated that the immigration ban was a violation of fundamental American constitutional values. The Washington Post reported that the 9th circuit court ruled that the executive order harms international business as it prevents students, faculty, and overseas employees of American companies from traveling abroad in fear of being stranded in another country.

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 10.31.49 PM.png

So what is the legal question being asked? Well, we don’t necessarily know. The court has stated that it goes against American constitutional values, and that’s about it.

During the first week of the executive order, green card and Visa holders were restricted from entering the United States, which is illegal. However, the Trump administration has since reversed that rule, one again permitting these people to enter.

Since the Supreme Court usually deals with pressing issues of national security, it is highly probable that the constitutionality of this order will be taken to the highest court in the nation. But until then, we patiently wait. As of now, the immigration ban has been halted in compliance with the decision of the 9th circuit court.

Furthermore, I feel this executive order was doomed from the start not because of its intent but because of the execution.

Like I stated in my last post, I am in no way against immigration bans that are done correctly. Unfortunately for the president, this executive action was amateur at best in its execution.

First, the president is on the record for stating he wanted a ban on Muslims from entering the United States during the campaign season. This was his first mistake. Although the executive order claims it to be an “immigration ban” it is hard not to see past the lines of those words considering the rhetoric. The United States is a country founded by people seeking religious freedom. This is a nation of diversity and something I deeply take pride in. The president’s words are not only contradictory to what makes this country great, but ultimately disrespect fundamental American values—such values which are written in the doctrine of our founding, the constitution.

10courts-master768.jpg
Photo by Alyssa Schukar, The New York Times  

The next mistake came with the actual signing of the executive order. Countless stories have surfaced the internet of constant confusion from different government agencies on how to properly execute the ban. During the first couple of days, the Department of Homeland Security was not properly informed on who exactly was allowed into the country, causing major confusion at airports around the world. People who legally had the right to enter the United States were being detained for extended periods of time without any explanation to why they couldn’t enter. For lack of a better word, the execution of the ban was messy.

So now we wait. This case is far from over and will most likely be presented to the Supreme Court very soon. As of now, the Supreme Court is split evenly 4/4. This is important because if the court cannot come to a consensus and the vote is evenly split, then the decision made by the 9th circuit court WILL STAND AS LAW marking the president’s first major defeat in office. Obviously that may be jumping the gun a little, but it is interesting to think about all outcomes of the situation.

Regardless of how you feel about the ban, this case could set precedent to how the judiciary reacts to Trump’s executive decisions. Only time will tell….

These past two weeks have been quite hectic, but I hope I can help out with any questions anyone may have.

Until next time, stay engaged!

-Exsar Misael

~

 

 

 

Back to blogging: my future as a writer

Well, the election season is officially over, and I took a break from writing. But after biting the lip these past couple of months I’ve decided this is a great time to pick back up again. Being a journalism student, this is the one of the worst and best times to be in the industry, a paradox that makes my head spin ultimately questioning the worthiness of a future as a reporter.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and although I can sit in this coffee shop for hours on end writing and dissecting his policy over the past few weeks, I’ll save my audience the headache for today.

Today is a day for a philosophical discussion about my life and future as a journalist. Some politics, but mostly philosophy.

For those that know me, I try to stay very objective with my line of thought. Naturally as an aspiring journalist, I try my best to not let political bias control or hinder the quality of my writing.

So without any more hesitation, let us begin.

Today, I want to discuss the first amendment, particularly the freedom of speech and the press. I want to discuss the importance of this and dig into some philosophical context to allow my audience to understand why I am hesitant about my future as a writer, predominantly in regards to our newly elected President.

As James Madison once said, if people we angels, then the function of government wouldn’t be necessary. But isn’t that what makes our world so beautiful and fascinating at the same time? Political discrepancy is only a natural part of our political system. Understanding each other’s viewpoints and decision making is how democracy flourishes and thrives. After all, in order to fix an issue, you must know what is wrong in the first place. I will always preach political moderation—equilibrium if you will. I firmly believe that Democracy fails when there is a lack of understanding from both sides of the political spectrum. Political or not, I try everyday to understand people’s needs and ideas, regardless of what I may personally believe.

The constitution is the law of the land and the foundational doctrine that governs our decision making as a united people. Regardless of your political identification, this document in particular must be the foundation of our decision making. Whether or not you believe in original intent or original understanding, the Constitution of this country is still the foundation—the starting point of our lawmaking, ethics, and social structure.

After all, good laws must satisfy three common factors: equality, eradicate pre-established notions, and form a social contract.

Equality: Law must be clear, precise and treat every citizen of equal standard no matter the authority.

Pre-established: No law that is made today can punish an action that was committed yesterday, before it existed.

Social contract: Bad laws can have a chilling effect on speech, limiting people’s access to an equilibrium of ideas and thoughts. Good law is well tailored, and applies to all individuals without hindering freedom.

The pinnacle of American ethics and law, the first amendment does exactly what law should do. It gives people the freedom of expression, an idea that was not the standard of practice around the world when it was written. At only 45 words, the first amendment is the source of our freedom.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So how does this apply to my life as a writer? Well, under the first amendment I am granted the freedom of speech, and the press. There are 16 words that allow me to sit here and write about whatever the hell I want, guaranteeing that I will not be punished for the content I produce, regardless of what you think (as long as I don’t violate libel or slander). 16 words. 16 words gives me the freedom to express myself in the fashion I feel fits suit. Yet within those 16 words, are a billion ideas of what that freedom can mean. There are over 200 years of debate circulating on what those 16 words mean by definition, yet our morale code as a people help govern what those freedoms entail. The words are on paper, but we define by our philosophy what those words mean. Beautiful isn’t it?

The media is here to stay. It is a source for people to gather information and learn about the world around us. Historically, the media has played a huge role in the progression of our country. Providing people with information about British taxation, spreading ideas of revolution and freedom, informing individuals about government policy and war; some form of media is what keeps people in the loop at all times.

This is where I have issues. It pains me and ultimately hurts to see our President say journalist are “among the most dishonest people on Earth,” while stating he is at war with the media.

The President has also restricted certain publications from entering national briefings, an unprecedented restriction that according the historical interpretation to those 16 words, is unconstitutional. Yet the President has chosen to allow a specific handful of publications to report inside the walls of the White House, particularly those who write content supporting the rhetoric and policy of President Trump. This unfair treatment of the press has only fueled his support to follow in his rhetoric, as trust with the media has dwindled.

This is inherently dangerous to those who consume news on a daily basis. Just like our government, the media is not ran by angels. Both biases MUST be shown in the news. It allows educated individuals the opportunity to dissect and absorb all angles in politics. Democracy requires the most attentiveness of its people compared to other forms of government, relying on political attentiveness to move the country forward. Voting is just a small engagement that people must have. Consuming news is part of our democracy, and more importantly the foundation of how people base their political identification.

The President’s suppression and negative rhetoric of the press is not only inherently dangerous to our democracy, but it also moves our nation into a state where media is controlled.

I just came back from Nicaragua, and during my visit I was told I could not write about the politics of the country based on the law. The media, for the most part, is controlled and funded by the government. This allows the majority of the population to only consume news that benefits the impression of the government. Without criticism, the government can continue to influence what people think, often hindering progress and freedom of thought.

No, the United States is most likely not heading into this direction, but it does make me wonder how the suppression of the press by this administration is comparable to other nations that control the media.

It is, constitutionally speaking on behalf of those 16 words, un-American to control what media is allowed to report on the President’s behalf. It not only violates the first amendment, but the fundamental values that makes America so great to begin with.

If you are mad with the media, then as consumer, you should absorb more news from multiple sources, not engage yourself in what makes you happy.

Remember, democracy requires the most attentiveness from its people to thrive, and that includes the consumption of news. Equilibrium. Open your mind, and hear both sides of the argument in order to formulate an objective opinion. Never stop engaging and reading.

So although the words of the President do make me hesitant in my future as a writer, I will allows hold dear those 16 words that help make this country the greatest place on the planet. I will continue to write no matter the circumstance. I will always be critical, no matter who is in power. It is my job to do so. And although I do have my own political opinions, I will always try my best to stay objective. I’m sure there will be things President Trump does that I will agree with, and I’ll write when that opportunity comes. Positive or negative, I will continue to write until the day I die.

~

Thank you for reading everyone! I will try my best to post twice a week from here on out.

Until next time, stay engaged.

God bless,

Exsar Misael

 

 

Cruz Drops Out- analysis and Thought

After the Indiana primary last night, Tuesday May 3, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign for President of the United States. But with Indiana being a must win state for Cruz, is anyone really surprised the Senator dropped? Well, a little. Especially after joining forces with Ohio Governor John Kasich last week to stop Trump.

90
Photo Credits: Politico 

Cruz and Kasich

About a week ago, Ted Cruz and John Kasich both released statements issuing an alliance in a last minute effort to keep Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from winning the nomination. In the statements, it was clear that Cruz would focus on Indiana, while Kasich focused on Oregon and New Mexico. If both candidates won the states, they would have been able to deny Trump over 1,000 delegates, hindering the republican frontrunner from getting the nomination.

Delegates

Unfortunately, after Trump’s win in Indiana, it is mathematically impossible for Cruz to win the nomination with the remaining delegates. Even though Cruz has explicitly stated he would stay in the race until the convention, it is clear the Senator doesn’t believe anyone can stop Trump from taking the Republican nomination. Going into Indiana, Trump only needed to win 60 percent of the remaining delegates to get the nomination, while Cruz needed a near impossible 90 percent. Kasich has been mathematically out of the race for quite some time. So why hasn’t the Ohio governor dropped? In reality, the race to the white house for the Republican party is now officially over. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Kasich drop after loses in Oregon and New Mexico.

Here is a good link of a delegate tracker for all those interested in the exact numbers.

Cruz Fiorina wasn’t enough

Before Indiana, Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his VP running mate. This was an unusual move by the Senator as most candidates don’t officially state their running mate until after the nomination for the party is solidified. This can be seen more as a strategic move, as Fiorina was the 2010 Republican senatorial nominee in California. With California coming up on June 7, Cruz was clearly trying to win over as many republican voters as possible in a desperate move to stop Trump. And overall, this move by Cruz was just that: desperate. The Fiorina move seemed to backfire on Cruz as a video went viral of her slipping on stage during the Indiana campaign trail, foreshadowing the inevitable fall of Cruz’s campaign, and his decision to pick Fiorina as a running mate to pick up last minute votes.

Carly-Fiorina-Ted-Cruz
Photo Credits: Politico 

Concluding Thoughts

At this point in the campaign trail, it is safe to say Donald Trump has solidified the nomination for the Republican party. In my personal opinion, Cruz shouldn’t have dropped out of the race. Even if the Senator and Kasich could scavenge some remaining delegates, it would have been easier to fight Trump for the nominate at the convention. With Kasich now moments away from suspending his campaign, it is clear that American has voted. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Chkqt1-XEAA0peX
Photo Credits: Politico 

Q and A with Paul Diaz, Sanders supporter

First and foremost, I have to thank Paul for his willingness to do this interview with me. Although we go to different universities, we still keep in touch with each other. Thanks for all the good memories in high school, and truly being a great and down to Earth friend.

Paul Diaz is a sophomore at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, fulfilling a Philosophy degree with a minor in English. Diaz is a supporter of the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and will vote for him in the upcoming election. This blog post is intended to show the perspective of a college student voting for a democrat. I will be doing an interview with a college republican in the near future. Thank you, and enjoy!

Q: Thanks for coming out and helping me with my blog Paul. Lets get started. How important do you think it is for college students to vote, especially in this election?

A: I think it’s extremely important both in this election and in general. We can’t afford to be apathetic towards politics.

Q: For you and I, this will be the first time we’ll be able to make our mark in history. Tell me about the emotion behind voting. Are you excited? How do you feel?

A: I’m about as excited as anyone else who takes politics seriously.It’s arguably our most effective way of influencing politics.

Q: You support Bernie Sanders. What is it about his message that appeals to you?

A: I was personally sold by his idea of campaign finance reform and taking back our government from wealthy special interests.

Q: Sanders is also a big proponent of raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare, and free education. How do these particular issues sit with you?

A: Well, I support the minimum wage not only because I believe it should be a living wage, but also because it would be beneficial to the economy, as a number of economists and economic articles have stated. As for healthcare, I’m not crazy about a profit-motivated system being involved when you’re dealing with someone’s health. People these days, particularly close to or at the poverty line, are likely to find themselves in a situation where they have to choose between their health or their financial stability. I think that should not be happening in a country as wealthy as ours. I support free education because I believe that the only way to make a representative electoral system like ours work the way it should be is to have an educated population. The more accessible an education is for others, the better it will be for our democracy.

Q: Bernie Sanders has recently pushed a bit of momentum. Moving into the West Coast, how pivotal are the next few weeks for the Vermont Senator? Do you think he can still win the nomination?

A: The next few weeks will almost certainly make or break his campaign. He has to overcome his deficit in delegates (pledged delegates in particular) or he simply won’t be the nominee. I firmly believe he can still pull it off at this point. Whether or not he will remains to be seen.

Q: Tomorrow night is the big debate which will include both democrat and republican candidates. What are you looking forward most about tomorrow night?
What will you be looking for Sanders to do in order to feed that momentum?

A: I’m looking forward to seeing how Hillary and Bernie will repel the criticisms that they have levied at each other in the past several days. The race for the nomination is definitely getting more heated as time goes by. As for the republican candidates, there’s honestly not much for me to look forward to at this point. You can probably understand why. I think Bernie’s best way to feed his momentum is to continue doing what he’s been doing to create it in the first place: hammer his message, defend himself effectively when he trades blows with Hillary, and land a few good ones on Hillary herself while remaining the statesman politician he’s been throughout his campaign.

Q: There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about Hilary Clinton and her relationship with “fossil fuel money,” according to Bernie Sanders.
How do feel about the battle between both campaigns, demanding apologies to one another?

A: I think everything about this “battle” is pretty trivial, with the major exception of the questions raised about Hillary’s campaign contributions and consequently her integrity. I don’t see apologies being exchanged between them anytime soon, but who knows?

Q: Clinton’s campaign contributions have been an issue in the past and one of her main criticisms. Do you think this will help define her interest? Will it help Bernie?

A: Yes, I absolutely do think her contributions affect her interest, as they do everyone. Here’s a problem with giving Hillary the benefit of the doubt over her campaign contributions: unless you’re willing to have a double standard, you have to grant that same benefit to other politicians. Do you think the large sums of money given to the Republican candidates don’t influence their votes? If you ignore this criticism with one candidate, how can you justify using this attack against the others? The simple fact is that politicians are influenced to some extent by their biggest donors. Bernie does not have a Super PAC affiliated with his campaign nor does he accept large campaign contributions from corporate interests. His campaign has been fueled with millions of mostly small donations (I believe the average donation was $27). If anyone in this election can make a strong case for not being beholden to “dark money”, it’s Bernie, and that ability can only help him in this election.

Q: Lastly, do you feel undecided republican and non-Trump supporters will vote for Bernie if the two battle it out for the election?

A: I personally believe Bernie will get the lion’s share of those voters, but I can’t speak for everyone. It all comes down to where their interests lie, how informed they are about each candidate, and whether they’re willing to put aside any biases they have for or against them.

 

Once again, big thanks to Paul for the help. I will be interviewing a college republican hopefully in the next seven days. But until then, don’t miss my coverage of the debate tomorrow night!