Student Blog: Kate Koptenko

August 9, 2018

Your Vote Counts!

 

In the last midterm election (November 2014), the turnout was the lowest in 70 years. As a matter of fact, only about half of Florida voters came out to the polls. It means hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens did not vote, giving up their political voices. Will the 2018 midterm election be the same?

 

Keep in mind that every single vote make a difference. In 1982 New Hampshire State Senate election, incumbent George Wiggins defeated his challenger Fred Belair by a single vote. More recently, just six years ago, New Mexico Republican Terry McMillan won the state House of Representatives election by only eight votes. Even the outcome of a federal election (Connecticut’s Congressional District 2 – 2006) was once decided by only 83 votes. In reality, these types of situations are more widespread than we tend to think.

 

One of the most prominent cases of tight elections was undoubtedly the presidential election of 2000. As we all know, our own state of Florida made the final decision in this major election. George W. Bush won the state quite narrowly, leading by only 537. Had these 537 people decided to stay home in November of 2000, it is likely that we would have had President Al Gore for at least four years. Thus, even as significant elections as presidential ones can oftentimes be decided by as little as a few hundred votes.

 

As President Thomas Jefferson once said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” This quote speaks the truth. American democracy depends on the citizens' involvement and participation. Do not give up your voice by choosing to stay home on election day. After all, your opinion matters just as much as anyone else’s. Take action and support a cause you believe in. 

 

In the present-day world, voting becomes easier every year. Now, you can choose to vote on election day, vote early, or even vote by mail. The early voting normally takes place two weeks prior to the official election day. This means that you can go to the polls anytime within that period. Voting by mail allows you to cast your ballot from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is put it in your mailbox the next day. Some states are currently even considering doing online voting. Although this option is not available yet, it is possible that it will be in the coming years.

 

Your vote is your voice which has the power to make a difference in our world. If you are a United States citizen over the age of 18, take time to vote in the primary election August 28th and in the general election November 6th. If you are not a citizen, you can still take part in the political process by volunteering for a cause you believe in and even encouraging others to vote. All you have to do is participate.

July 7, 2018

 

America’s 242nd Birthday

 

This July 4th, the United States officially turned 242 years. Every year, on this special date, we celebrate our country, attend parades, and simply enjoy this anniversary with our friends and family. So let’s honor this holiday by taking a closer look at America’s not too long but very abundant history.

 

The 4th of July has been celebrated as an annual national holiday ever since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The main author of the declaration was none other than our third president Thomas Jefferson, who was only 33 at the time. John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and America’s beloved Benjamin Franklin also contributed to the revolutionary document. The names of these writers will forever stay in our history books. In the end, 56 notable colonist leaders signed the declaration.

 

Many might be surprised to hear, however, that John Hancock – not the writers – was the first to sign the document. Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, president of the Continental Congress, and an overall prominent figure in the eighteenth-century politics. Perhaps, he is best known as one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, as he worked alongside the famous Sam Adams. To this day, we tend to remember Hancock for his especially large signature on the Declaration of Independence. A legend has it that Hancock signed his name so large because he wanted to ensure that King George could “read it without his spectacles.” Many believe that Hancock is underappreciated in United States history, as he tends to be one of the lesser known Founding Fathers.

 

The declaration marked the official start of the Revolutionary War, when the American colonies fought for their freedoms and independence. Taxation without representation was only one of many reasons why the colonies chose to separate from Great Britain. Overall, many colonists (who officially considered themselves British citizens) felt that they were treated unjustly. They chose to form their own country, building it on the ideas of natural rights, “the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The colonists strived to build their own nation, founding it as a Democratic Republic. In the end, the Revolutionary War lasted in total of seven years and ended with an American victory at Yorktown, Virginia.

 

In conclusion, I hope that you had a fantastic time this 4th of July, celebrating our great country and all the freedoms it provides us with today. Last year, I personally had an incredible opportunity to attend an event at the National Archives, seeing the Declaration of Independence in person. It was truly remarkable, as I got to experience the American history live. If you are ever in Washington, DC, I would highly recommend paying the National Archives a visit. Perhaps, it will provide you with an insight into the very foundation of our nation.

Kate

July 7, 2018

 

America’s 242nd Birthday

 

This July 4th, the United States officially turned 242 years. Every year, on this special date, we celebrate our country, attend parades, and simply enjoy this anniversary with our friends and family. So let’s honor this holiday by taking a closer look at America’s not too long but very abundant history.

 

The 4th of July has been celebrated as an annual national holiday ever since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The main author of the declaration was none other than our third president Thomas Jefferson, who was only 33 at the time. John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and America’s beloved Benjamin Franklin also contributed to the revolutionary document. The names of these writers will forever stay in our history books. In the end, 56 notable colonist leaders signed the declaration.

 

Many might be surprised to hear, however, that John Hancock – not the writers – was the first to sign the document. Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, president of the Continental Congress, and an overall prominent figure in the eighteenth-century politics. Perhaps, he is best known as one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, as he worked alongside the famous Sam Adams. To this day, we tend to remember Hancock for his especially large signature on the Declaration of Independence. A legend has it that Hancock signed his name so large because he wanted to ensure that King George could “read it without his spectacles.” Many believe that Hancock is underappreciated in United States history, as he tends to be one of the lesser known Founding Fathers.

 

The declaration marked the official start of the Revolutionary War, when the American colonies fought for their freedoms and independence. Taxation without representation was only one of many reasons why the colonies chose to separate from Great Britain. Overall, many colonists (who officially considered themselves British citizens) felt that they were treated unjustly. They chose to form their own country, building it on the ideas of natural rights, “the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The colonists strived to build their own nation, founding it as a Democratic Republic. In the end, the Revolutionary War lasted in total of seven years and ended with an American victory at Yorktown, Virginia.

 

In conclusion, I hope that you had a fantastic time this 4th of July, celebrating our great country and all the freedoms it provides us with today. Last year, I personally had an incredible opportunity to attend an event at the National Archives, seeing the Declaration of Independence in person. It was truly remarkable, as I got to experience the American history live. If you are ever in Washington, DC, I would highly recommend paying the National Archives a visit. Perhaps, it will provide you with an insight into the very foundation of our nation.

Kate

June 25, 2018

 

Local Elections Matter

 

When it comes to politics, we tend to pay the most attention to national elections. The media and the public discusses Representatives as well as Senatorial candidates and talks extensively about the election of the president. With all focus on federal offices, the local officers oftentimes get overlooked. As a matter of fact, thousands of people simply leave the bottom of the ballot empty; thus, not voting for any of the county and municipal officials. This is a major problem, as the decisions at the lower-level of government often turn out to be some of the most important ones.

 

It is not uncommon for people to underestimate just how much power the local governments truly wield. Interestingly, local politicians are the ones who have an effect on numerous aspects of our everyday lives. For instance, the quality of education our children receive directly depends on the officials serving on the School Board. County Sheriffs affect our safety; if an unqualified individual assumes this office, then a county might become more prone to crime. The municipalities and counties also possess one of the most important powers of taxing their residents. After all, the property taxes mostly depend on our local officials. The city leaders are the ones who decide whether their city will be a sanctuary one or not. If they vote in favor of becoming a sanctuary city, then more lenient policies towards illegal immigration are implemented. Efficient local leadership can greatly ease our daily routines. Meantime, an ineffective one can accomplish the opposite – unnecessarily complicate our lives.

 

Keep in mind that the most meaningful change always begins on the grassroots level, in our localities. For example, women’s suffrage movement, pro-environment efforts, and minimum wage policies all had their beginnings on some of the lowest of the governmental levels. Only from there, a cause has an ability to grows, attracting more supporters and eventually reaching state as well as federal levels. Therefore, if you are passionate about a certain cause, do not try to go big right away. Start with your own community members and persuade them to support you.

 

Finally, since local elections usually have smaller populations and less voters, your vote truly counts the most. It is not uncommon for a local individual to win their election by only one vote. Just think about it – that one vote can be yours!

 

Prior to voting, make sure to conduct your own research on this matter. This is the only way to make an educated decision. But most importantly, do not skip over the local elections. They have just as much (if not more) influence on your life. Only by voting will you be able to ensure the well-being of your neighborhood and community.

 

Visit the www.BrowardSOE.org to learn more about the county officials running.

Kate

June 18, 2018

 

Political Science Group: A Year in Review (2017-2018)

 

In the spring Student Life held yet another Sammy Awards, recognizing some of the most influential as well as active groups and members of this year. It is my pleasure to state that several of the Political Science Group (PSG) members were acknowledged at the most recent ceremony. Vice President Sandra Cote received the Member of the Year Award, Secretary Joseph Magrina won the Outstanding Leadership Award, and Treasurer Matthew Balzora earned the Spirit Award, while I personally was honored to acquire the Seahawk Service Award. But what kind of work really led PSG to all of these great accomplishments?

 

To begin with, throughout this year Political Science Group recruited over 50 new members. We hosted a variety of meetings, forums, and roundtable discussions, striving to improve political literacy and government education among the students. Numerous speakers were invited to help the undergraduates better understand some of the most pressing issues of the modern-day. Throughout the year, we worked diligently to involve more students in elections and campaigns, providing them with first-hand experience, while also encouraging them to fulfill their civic duties.

 

At the beginning of this academic year, PSG hosted a meeting in honor of the Hispanic Heritage Month as well as the Veterans Day. Veteran Santiago Vazquez was among the speakers, sharing his own experience of working as an Army officer and being overseas. The participants were able to learn more about the military service, while also honoring our veterans.

 

In addition, PSG received an incredible opportunity to host a forum with the former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham. The members asked a variety of questions about the public service and state issues. Governor Graham furthered PSG’s main mission by inspiring students to take part in their local governments by volunteering and engaging in community service. After the event, the most active PSG members stayed to lunch with the governor, receiving an additional chance to ask him questions and take part in meaningful conversations.

 

PSG members represented Broward College before the Constitution Revision Commission in early February. The participants spoke before the highly-respected commissioners, persuading them to add the Florida State College System into the Florida Constitution. Although the commission still has not made its final decision on the policy, the vast majority of citizens present at the hearing supported this idea. Therefore, it is likely that the proposition will eventually find its way onto the 2018 ballot.

 

Finally, the group organized two meetings, bringing awareness to the issue of the gun control. The first one was a forum, allowing students to ask the crucial questions about their safety and overall course of action if a critical situation does occur. The second meeting primarily served as a roundtable discussion. There were six reputable speakers (such as campus security, police officers, and veterans) who managed to provide the students with the special insight into this important issue. By the end of the discussions, the students came up with their own policy proposals which, if implemented, might make major impacts in our communities.

 

In conclusion, I was delighted to see PSG’s immense growth and positive impact on the student body of Broward College. Although this likely was my last year with the Political Science Group, I am confident that it resumes to grow and expand even after I transfer to American University in order to earn my Bachelor’s Degree. I have no doubt that the group will continue with its mission and will be just as extraordinary at the same time as the next academic year.

 

Kate

June 11, 2018

U.S. Senate Election: Who Will be Florida’s Next Senator?

 

The U.S. Senate election is less than six months away (only three, if you count the primary). Thus, now is the perfect time to look at the candidates and begin considering who will be the most qualified to represent the Sunshine State in Congress. At this moment, there are eight candidates who have officially filed to run for the office. Who is best for the job? The decision is yours to make! But here is some information and facts, which I hope will help you make the right choice.

 

First of all, there is only one Democrat in the race – the incumbent Bill Nelson who has held this Senatorial position since 2001. Prior to that, Nelson also was a member of the House of Representatives for 19 years. He finished his service in the U.S. Army, received a law degree, and shortly after became a government official.

 

Nelson’s ideas mostly match the Democratic platform, especially when it comes to social issues. For instance, Nelson is known to be pro-choice; he has repeatedly voted in favor of keeping the abortions fully legal. The Human Rights Campaign also gave Nelson one of the highest rankings, indicating his clear support of same-sex marriage and gay-rights. Nelson is also known for his opposition to gun ownership, as he tends to favor the gun control laws. He strongly believes in requiring businesses to hire more minorities and women as well as providing undocumented aliens with a path to citizenship. Green energy is a priority to Nelson, just as is the protection of the environment. Nelson stands by tax increases, while opposing military expansion. Finally, along with his peers, Nelson has spoken out in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana.

 

On the Republican side, Rick Scott is the most prominent candidate. Scott has been serving as a Florida Governor for almost two terms (eight years) now. This year he has reached the term-limit. Scott is seeking the senatorial seat. He was a businessman for the majority of his life – a political outsider, if you will. Scott attended a community college. Afterwards, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became a lawyer just a few years later.

 

When it comes to his platform, Scott tends to support conservative principles. He believes in decreasing taxes, reducing regulations, and promoting free-market ideas. Generally, Scott is known to be pro-life and protect the people’s right to bear arms. Scott opposes a government-run healthcare system but rather strongly supports school choice, giving families the right to decide which school their children attend. Scott believes in providing those below the poverty line with vouchers; thus, allowing them to attend private schools. He would like to see an increase in charter schools, stating that it is one of the best ways to improve education in our state. Being a veteran himself, Scott has worked to provide homeless veterans with finances and residences they deserve.

 

Another Republican in the race is a businessman Rocky De La Fuente. In addition, there are four write-in-candidates – Lateresa Jones, Howard Knepper, Michael Levinson, Charles Frederick Tolbert, and David Weeks. There are no candidates from third parties.

 

When it comes to the polls, clearly Rick Scott and Bill Nelson are leading. They have the best name recognition and the most public service experience. When compared to each other, however, Scott is currently leading by 4 points (according to the most recent FAU poll). Many believe that this might be the most difficult election for Nelson in the last 18 years. Nevertheless, the election is still months away. This lead is not significant enough and can change dramatically as we move through the election process. Only time will reveal which candidates will take part in the Broward College U.S. Senate debate this year, and which one of them will represent us in the U.S. Senate for the next six years.

 

Do not give up your right to choose: vote in the primary on August 28 and in the general election on November 6. Keep in mind, even one vote often times makes a major difference.

Kate

June 4, 2018

 

Gun Control: The Students’ Opinions

 

Just last month, Broward College’s students took part in a discussion on the issue of the gun control. Organized by the Political Science Group, this event attracted participants of all backgrounds and opinions. The main purpose of the meeting was to encourage student involvement and determine the best way to solve the problem of school shootings while fostering firearm safety.

 

The meeting featured several different speakers, such as police officers, veterans, and college security members. Davie police officer, Brett Newton, provided students with crucial information on the importance of cautiousness and readiness to act quickly in a critical situation. Campus Safety Sergeant – Officer Jeff Mason – discussed what goes into protecting our college campuses and schools. A former police officer and Army veteran Santiago Vazquez, as well as former Marine Christian Silva, offered essential insight into the overall safety of gun handling. Broward College’s own Professor Brower presented Florida gun control laws to the participants, starting a much-needed conversation on the topic.

 

The main goal of the event was to engage students in dialogue, allowing them to come up with necessary solutions to the current problem. While a range of opinions has been voiced, the vast majority of students agree that education is of the highest importance. Many students believe in banning guns and rifles altogether, while others support a different approach. The idea of arming campus security was quite popular at the meeting. Numerous partakers held that this method would prevent some school shootings from taking place. The discussion led the participants to believe that focusing on mental illness treatment will greatly help reduce the number of the shootings.

 

By the end of the meeting, the attendees had relatively clear policy ideas. Many were determined to act by reaching out to their government representatives, leading safety workshops, and promoting overall awareness. The students were motivated to work together on pressing the issue. While today, nobody is fully certain what the best course of action is, discussions like these are the start. Only by engaging in conversations and working alongside each other will we be able to come up with a clear solution, which might actually save lives in the future.

 

Kate

 

April 15, 2018

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission: Making a Difference in Education

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) held its last public meeting. It is now preparing to decide which final proposals will ultimately make it onto the statewide 2018 ballot in November. But what education amendments is CRC most likely to support? And how are they going to affect us as students?

 

To begin with, Proposal 43 would create term limits for School Board officials. Currently, the members are free to serve for however long they please – even for life. If voters choose to continue re-electing them, they can stay in office. The proposal, however, would make it impossible for an individual to serve for more than two consecutive terms of four years each. Although some consider it as a disadvantage (experienced school board members might have to surrender their positions), others perceive this as highly beneficial since it would prevent the officials from becoming too reliant on political donors and losing touch with the people. Only voters will decide which positives outweigh the negatives. It is essential to note, however, that generally voters tend to support term limits for their representatives.

 

Proposal 83 would include the Florida State Colleges into the state Constitution, making it more difficult for legislators to alter the current college system. The proposition would ensure that our system remains just as affordable and proficient as it is today. Furthermore, the proposal appeals to simple common sense since both K-12 as well as the Florida State University Systems are already recognized by the Constitution. The recommendation appears to receive major support from the learning community, as students from Broward and Miami-Dade colleges came out to support the proposal during one of CRC’s local public hearings.

 

Proposal 71 would provide state legislators with the power to establish a new way of approving charter schools. Proposal 45 would further promote the idea of school choice. In the meantime, Proposal 33 would mandate Superintendent appointments – not elections. The proposal appears to be reasonable, as oftentimes the most qualified superintendents are not the most popular individuals in their districts.

 

Overall, the CRC proposals can have a significant effect on education, potentially making one of the greatest impacts in the several decades. While we may support some proposals more than the others, the voters – as a group – will make the final choice in November. Their political voices will decide which ideas become actual constitutional amendments.

Kate

April 8, 2018

The Constitution Revision Commission: The Process Which Decides Florida’s Future

 

Florida citizens are not only choosing officials and representatives this election year, they are also voting on certain political issues. As a matter of fact, we are likely to see an additional number of constitutional amendments on the ballot, thanks to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. But what is this commission? And how does it have the authority to put any idea directly on our state’s voting ballot?

 

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a group of legislators, elected officials, and simply dedicated citizens who care about their community. CRC members are selected by the Governor, Florida Speaker of the House, Florida Senate President Pro Tempore, and Florida Chief Justice. In addition, the Attorney General (presently, Pam Bondi) is an automatic officer on the commission. The members come up with amendments to the Florida Constitution. Their choices have an incredible impact on our state, as every amendment suggestion selected is put directly on the ballot. Only the support of the commissioners is required to put a proposal to the people’s vote. Therefore, CRC members possess an incredible power – their choices can immensely affect our state’s future.

 

It is essential to note that the commission only assembles once every twenty years. To this day, there have just been three CRCs in total. Prior to selecting which ideas to put on the ballot, the officers work in committees to thoroughly discuss each potential amendment. Even more importantly, they listen to voters by making themselves available via e-mail and phone as well as conducting personal meetings. CRC also travels all around the state, hosting public hearings, where each Florida resident can speak up in favor of or against proposed amendments.

 

CRC is still going around the state, being attentive to people’s problems and concerns. Companies, professionals, and even students come out to address the esteemed commissioners. In February of 2018, a group of Broward College students spoke before CRC, supporting the Proposal 83. If passed, the proposal will include the Florida State College System in our state’s Constitution. By including the college system in our state’s constitution, we could be certain that it will remain just as affordable, proficient, and beneficial as it is today. In addition to this issue, several other amendments on education, religion, and privacy are currently being discussed.

 

In conclusion, CRC possesses an incredible ability to affect and even alter Florida’s future. When citizens turn out to the polls in November, they will be voting on the amendments proposed by the commission. Only the final results will show just how much of a difference the commission will make this year.

Kate

March 31, 2018

Women’s History Month: The Women Who Changed America

 

American women have tremendous impact on our world’s prosperity and growth every day. Their accomplishments are forever written down in our country’s not long but rich history. During this Women’s History Month, let’s recognize some of the most influential female leaders who changed our nation, creating the United States we know today.

 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton is commonly seen as one of the first female activists. She did direct the notable Seneca Falls Convention and authored one of the most prominent women’s rights documents – the Declaration of Sentiments. The writing reflected the Declaration of Independence, while specifically speaking of the equality of men and women alike. Cady Stanton read the Declaration of Sentiments aloud at the first official female rights convention, receiving massive support from the attendees. Eventually, sixty-eight women along with thirty-two men enthusiastically signed the document.

 

Although not as well-known as Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull also made numerous transformative contributions to the women’s rights movement. Throughout her whole life, Woodhull wrote extensively on this issue. As a co-founder and editor of Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly newspaper, Woodhull did not shy away from exposing gender double-standards as well as various inequalities pertaining to women of the nineteenth century. However, Woodhull’s most famous achievement was her bold presidential run in 1872. She became a nominee of the Equal Rights Party or People’s Party. Frederick Douglas was named her Vice Presidential running-mate, but he never accepted the nomination. As history reveals, Woodhull was defeated by the war hero Ulysses Grant. Nonetheless, she still managed to attract additional attention to the issue of equal rights, proving that women are just as capable of pursuing our nation’s highest office. Woodhull went down in history as the first female presidential candidate of America.

 

Lastly, Susan B. Anthony was the strong and intelligent woman behind the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Throughout her life, Anthony was a fervent believer in women’s right to vote. In 1872, she was even convicted for trying to vote in her own-hometown of Rochester, NY. Recognizing this major injustice, she worked alongside the prior-mentioned Cady Stanton to promote female suffrage. Just six years later, Anthony and Cady Stanton convinced a California Republican Senator to introduce their amendment to the U.S. Congress. The process was extremely lengthy and toilsome, but less than five decades later the amendment was ratified, granting women all over the country the right to vote. Unfortunately, Anthony herself did not live long enough to see her amendment implemented. Yet, to this day, women all over the United States, hold Anthony in high regard, thinking of her every time they cast voting ballots.

 

Evidently, women have made significant impact on United States history. Had it not been for the above listed women, it is unclear whether our country would be the same today. Cady Stanton, Woodhull, and Anthony were bona fide leaders, who took brave actions to make our world a fairer place. In present-day America, we should follow in their footsteps, standing up for our own beliefs.

Kate

February 24, 2018

Congressional District 23: Meet the Republicans Running

The 2018 election is rapidly approaching. It appears to be just around the corner – starting with the primaries. Last time I discussed the backgrounds and views of Democrats running for the Florida’s Congressional District 23. This time, let’s take a better look at the Republicans aspiring to take the office. Although the district itself does lean to the left, it would be wrong to rule the Republicans out. Indeed, with all the unexpectedness of the political process and fallacious polling (as seen throughout the last couple of years), Republicans might surprise you in the next election.

There are currently three individuals seeking the Republican nomination: Carla Spalding, Joseph Kaufman, and Carlos Reyes.

Joe Kaufman was the first candidate to announce his intention to run. Notably, it will be his fourth attempt at trying to win this seat, but Kaufman is certainly quite relentless in his endeavors, refusing to give up. After the September 11th, 2001 tragedy, Kaufman decided to dedicate his whole life to fighting terrorism. In order to fulfill this promise he made to himself, Kaufman co-founded Americans Against Hate and even worked alongside the FBI. Being a conservative, Kaufman supports most of the Republican agenda, such as stricter control of our country’s borders, school choice via vouchers system, and decreases in taxes and regulations. Nonetheless, on a few unique issues, Kaufman ends up being more liberal than the Democratic incumbent herself. For example, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz is known for her strict stance on marijuana, opposing even medical use of the drug. Kaufman, on the other hand, believes in legalization of medical marijuana.

Carla Spalding announced her candidacy this spring. Impressively, Spalding wears many hats, being a Navy veteran, an educator, a registered nurse, an author, and even a single working mother. Spalding was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to the United States later in her life. She declared that her “biggest motivation to serve in Washington is to make a real difference as a Congresswoman of the people and for the people.” When it comes to policy, Spalding is especially passionate about supporting our veterans. As someone who has served in the military herself and worked within the Veterans Affairs (VA), Spalding believes she knows exactly how to help the veterans in need. In terms of other issues, Spalding stands by tax reform, enhancement of mental healthcare, and securing our borders to fight human trafficking.

Last but certainly not the least is Carlos Reyes, who is a lawyer and a son of Cuban immigrants. Interestingly, Reyes has great political experience in form of participating in campaigns and serving on boards of organizations. He became a co-founder of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association. Furthermore, in 1999, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Reyes to serve as Commissioner to the South Broward Hospital District. More recently, Reyes became a part of the Broward County Charter Review Commission. As a potential congressman, Reyes believes in restoring the environment and legal immigration. According to the Sunshine State News, Reyes stated, “As I consider all that is happening in the country, the disharmony we see everywhere, the drastic decline in values, traditions, education, respect, and challenges to bedrock principles that have served our great nation from its’ foundation, I can’t help but think where will this end?” Clearly, Reyes is not happy with the direction our country is currently headed; he desires change and that is what he intends to achieve as a future congressman.

While at this moment, it is impossible to tell for certain who of the candidates will receive the Republican nomination – all three candidates are actively campaigning. Besides the Democrats and Republicans, there is also an independent candidate, Stuart Reed who argues for his ability to unify and represent everyone – regardless of their party affiliation.

In conclusion, no matter what party you support, make sure to go vote in the congressional primary* on August 28, 2018 as well as the general election on November 6, 2018.

* If you are a registered independent, you will not be able to vote in the primary. If you would like to vote in the primary of a party, register with the party at least a month prior to the election day.

Kate

February 17, 2018

Lincoln: Remembering Our Revered Leader

 

Every year, on February 12th, we celebrate Lincoln Day. As it is evident from the name itself, this holiday is the birthday of one of the most revolutionary presidents – Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the sixteenth president who led the movement towards ending slavery, but what else can really be said about him?

 

Lincoln was born in Kentucky. His mother was killed by milk poisoning, and after this trauma Lincoln’s family relocated to Indiana. Only during his teen-years did Lincoln finally move to Illinois where he spent practically his entire life. Even as an adolescent and young adult, Lincoln was an avid reader. Despite his family’s expectations, Lincoln early on realized that farming and planting was not for him. Soon enough, he went into law, and with much study, Lincoln managed to become quite successful in this endeavor. It is, however, important to note that Lincoln never received a law degree. In fact, Lincoln never even attended law school; he only had 18 months of formal schooling. All of his legal knowledge came from reading and experience.

 

Not everyone knows that Lincoln was the first Republican president. He was one of the main leaders of the Grand Old Party at the time. During the mid-nineteenth century, the Republican Party's mission was defeating slavery. Neither Lincoln nor his immediate family ever supported slavery; therefore, Lincoln did not hesitate to get behind the cause. Besides being an abolitionist, Lincoln also believed in women’s suffrage. Hence, he even supported female suffrage back 1836. Unfortunately, at the time this was widely considered a radical position. Even so, Lincoln managed to bring more attention to this critical issue.

 

Prior to his presidency, Lincoln served as an Illinois state representative and a U.S. Congressman, but only for one term. Throughout his life, Lincoln experienced numerous disappointments. Failing in business, losing two senatorial elections, and getting passed for Vice President was only the start. Had it not been for his tremendous perseverance and relentless hard-work, it is doubtful that Lincoln would have become President.

 

However, many are surprised to find out that Lincoln was battling clinical depression for majority of his life. Even during some of the most successful moments in his life, Lincoln still appeared depressed. For instance, despite being at the peak of his political career and receiving remarkable support at the Presidential Convention of 1860, Lincoln simply could not enjoy the celebration and victory. Johnson – who personally took part in the convention – referred to Lincoln as “one of the most diffident and worst plagued men” he has ever seen. Certainly, this condition led to some additional difficulties in both his professional and personal life. During his youth, Lincoln broke off two engagements, eventually marrying his political friend and future First Lady – Mary Todd Lincoln.

 

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be assassinated. The tragedy took place on April 14th of 1865 at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. This event forever changed our nation. To this day, Lincoln is in the hearts of Americans, remembered as one of the greatest presidents that have ever served our country. This is why every year we celebrate his birthday.

Kate

February 10, 2018

Congressional District 23: Meet the Democrats Running

February is rapidly passing us by, which means that we are already less than a year away from the official election season. While there is no presidential election next year, there are several essential races we should keep our eyes on. Florida will conduct both gubernatorial and senatorial elections next year. An office that is commonly overlooked by voters is the House of Representatives. When it comes to the election of U.S. Representative, most of us live in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. Even if you reside outside the area but attend Broward College (central campus), you still study in the district. For this reason, I thought you might find an analysis of the candidates running for the position beneficial. Let’s begin, shall we?

 

The incumbent (person who currently holds the office), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, has not yet filed her intent to run. Nonetheless, based on the previous elections, it appears to be safe to assume that she will be seeking re-election next year. Normally, the incumbency gives a candidate an enormous advantage, and the fact that Wasserman-Schultz has gotten re-elected to the office since 2005 really proves this point to be true. It is likely that Wasserman-Schultz could win the 2018 election and serve in the Congress for at least another two years. While many might vote for the congresswoman for her goals and accomplishments, others might instead admire her vast political experience. 

 

Wasserman-Schultz is not the only Democrat running. Tim Canova – Nova Southeastern University’s Law Professor – has also announced his intention to run in 2018. Canova ran for the same office in 2016, but failed to secure the Democratic nomination by slightly over 6,000 votes. Now, he is back - willing to try again. One of Canova’s main reasons for running appears to be his dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. According to the Sun Sentinel, Canova declared, “our party and our country have departed dramatically from the agenda, the progressive agenda, that made this country great.” Canova has also stated that running for office was his “calling,” rather than a profession. Most importantly, however, if elected, Canova strives to “restore the Democratic Party to democracy” by standing against the influence of big corporations.

 

When it comes to their stances on issues, both Wasserman-Schulz and Canova support the basic Democratic agenda. Hence, their views tend to align with the liberal and progressive political ideologies. Both candidates support same-sex marriage, stricter gun-control laws, and fighting global warming. But on certain issues they part ways. For instance, Wasserman-Schultz is known for her opposition to the legalization of marijuana, including medical. Canova supports the decriminalization of marijuana even for personal use. Canova has been a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), while Wasserman-Schultz voted to fast-track it.

Just recently, a third candidate - Stephen Korka - filed his intent to seek the office. Korka is a Florida International University alumni and an owner of two local retail shops. Although first time running, Korka vows to represent the people and firmly stand by the Democratic principles. He intends to support the environment, equality, and healthcare for all. As a long-time resident of South Florida, Korka believes in building an inclusive community.

 

While it is difficult to predict how the 2018 Democratic Primary will turn out, it is more than likely to be intense. In fact, during the last election cycle, the race got so competitive that it received attention from the national media and presidential candidates, such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The main question is will the outcome of the 2018 primary be different from the 2016 election? We will have to wait and see – only the time will show.

Kate

October 20, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is breast cancer awareness month. This disease affects thousands of women world-wide. In the United States alone, over 249,000 women annually get diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, around 41,000 die because of this horrifying disease. It is therefore crucial to speak of breast cancer and bring more attention to its relatively widespread existence.

 

Although breast cancer is less common among teenagers and young adults, it is still very important for everyone take care of their health and body. Take notice of any lumps that might appear. Even though only 20% of lumps actually end up being cancer, it is always better to stay safe. You should especially pay attention if your family has a history of cancer. According to the Breast Cancer organization, if one of your first-degree female relatives (such as a sister, mother or daughter) had breast cancer, your risk is doubled. Contrary to the common belief, men can have breast cancer as well – male breast cancer is just less common.

 

Unfortunately, it is impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of having breast cancer, but there are some things you can do to lower your chances to a minimum. For instance, the American Cancer Society recommends staying at a healthy weight and physically exercising at least four hours every week. You should also limit alcohol intake and eat healthy nutritious food. Finally, you should avoid smoking (or quit smoking if you do so now). If you are at high risk because of a family history, it is recommended to perform monthly breast self-exams and a yearly breast exam by your doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

 

Certainly, breast cancer is a serious problem all over the world. Because a cure has not yet been discovered to fully eliminate the disease, it is important to take care of yourself and lead a healthy life-style. It is also essential for all of us to be there for those with breast cancer. The battle with the disease is a difficult one, but it can certainly be won. Experts recommend keeping a positive attitude and merely continuing moving forward. After all, the average five-year survival rate for people with the disease is 90%. But it cannot be stressed enough – take care of yourself and monitor your body. This type of approach can greatly help you and family in the future.

 

To learn more on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, please visit:

- American Cancer Society - https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html

- Breast Cancer organization - http://www.breastcancer.org/

- Cancer.Net - http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer

Kate

October 9, 2017

My Time in Dallas, TX

Earlier this spring, I was nominated by a local political leader for Turning Point USA’s Unsung Hero Award. Although I was flattered by this nomination, I did not think much of it until June when I was notified of my victory. I was chosen as one of only six political activists nationwide to receive this distinguished designation. While this achievement was very rewarding, it also meant that I had to drive 20 hours all the way to Dallas, TX to accept my award.

 

After three days of exhausting driving, I finally arrived to the Young Women’s Leadership Summit where the award ceremony was to take place. This was a four-day conference with over 1,000 attendees from all over the United States. Every day there were various seminars and lectures that started around 8:00am and continued until 10:00pm. These great events were led by notable speakers such as political journalists, elected officials, and even former presidential candidates.

 

On the very first day, I was honored to meet the famous show host, Ben Shapiro, who gave a very informative yet inspiring speech. I also enjoyed hearing from political commentator, Tomi Lahren, former congressman, Joe Walsh, National Rifle Association CEO, Wayne LaPierre, and even the President’s daughter in law, Lara Trump. It was also a great pleasure to meet prominent businesswoman and a 2016 presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina. Many of the summit’s attendees also participated in numerous meetings dedicated to discussing hot-topic political issues. Personally, I found the session on the key differences between capitalism and socialism especially interesting.

 

Finally, the winners were announced at the award ceremony which was held right on my 17th birthday. I had the honor of coming in at second place along with receiving a $2,500 cash prize. I must admit that this was the best birthday present I could have asked for. The same night, I was delighted to meet a famous radio talk show hostess, Laura Ingraham. As expected, Laura was also a remarkable public speaker who boldly voiced her opinions on the current political events.

 

Overall, this conference was an amazing experience for me. Not only did I learn a lot during those four days, but I also got to meet many like-minded students from all over the country. I am looking forward to taking part in similar summits in the future.

Kate

October 2, 2017

Hurricane Irma: Preparations, Destructions, and Coming Together

 

Ever since the formation of Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic Ocean in late August, all of us were left nervously guessing whether we would be the ones to get hit. Irma was the second-strongest hurricane that has ever formed in the Atlantic. What was probably even more terrifying about Irma was her abnormally large size. It was estimated that her radius stretched as far as 190 miles. To put things in perspective, Hurricane Andrew only had a radius of 120 miles. In fact, Irma was so far-reaching that when its eye only touched Miami, some impacts were already felt in Tallahassee and even Southern Georgia.

 

Perhaps, Irma brought the worst devastation to the islands in the Caribbean. San Martin was greatly impacted, with Irma blowing away roofs of countless houses, flooding buildings, and even ruining infrastructure altogether. A day after the hurricane, a horrifying video of a large building collapsing appeared online. Irma then moved on to Cuba, killing 10 people on the island.

 

Needless to say, Floridians were alarmed. Tens of thousands of Florida residents evacuated. The officials encouraged everyone in coastal areas to leave. Key West even faced mandatory evacuation. While most of the evacuees moved more in-land, many decided to leave the state altogether. From my own experience, I can say that finding an available hotel room in Alabama or Georgia was nearly impossible at the time. This evacuation became the cause of extreme traffic. A road trip that would normally take 6.5 hours for many turned out to be over 14 hours.

 

Those who decided to stay and prepare for the hurricane faced enormous lines at Home Depot and Costco. Buying bottled water was practically an impossible task. Although I was purchasing my water almost a week in advance, I still had to drive to three different stores before I managed to find some. The gas lines were even more ridiculous, with some people having to wait for hours just to find out that the station was out of gasoline. However, I believe that tough times such as these, actually reveal the best in the people. It was very refreshing to see neighbors helping one another put up shutters, friends sharing plywood and other supplies, and families coming together to stay in one tiny house or even a hotel room.

 

Irma hit Marathon, FL early Sunday, September 10th. She then moved to the rest of South Florida, mainly striking Tampa and the whole west coast of the state. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians lost power within hours of Irma’s arrival. Fortunately for us, Irma’s eye moved west. Broward County residents experienced minimal damage, such as knocked down trees and flooded streets.

 

While the East Coast of Florida was spared, the same cannot be said about Key West or the West Coast. Irma sucked water out of Tampa’s beaches. This appeared to be a very strange occurrence and many began worrying about the possibility of a tsunami. Fortunately, the water slowly returned within the next couple of days. Key West, however, was damaged the most. About 25% of houses in the area experienced great destruction. Many roofs and even full houses flew away. Another video that soon appeared online was of a little house which used to stand on the left side of the street. Nevertheless, after the hurricane, the house was found on the right side of the same street. Some Miami-Dade County cities, such as Sunny Isles Beach, were on complete lock down during the first few day of the hurricane.

 

These were trying times for Floridians but it is important to acknowledge that we came together as neighbors and friends to help each other through the worst of it. Although clean up continues, we stand together to clean up our cities, undo the destruction, and, for some people, even to rebuild their lives all over again.

Kate

September 20, 2017

My Time in Washington, DC

This year I received an amazing opportunity to spend my summer in Washington, DC. I must admit that this was one of the greatest experiences in my life thus far. I am glad to say that I have learned more about politics in the last two months than I have in my entire life.

 

My journey started about three months ago when I applied for several political internships. I was thrilled to discover that I was accepted to intern at a one of the most successful political consulting firms in DC. I began preparing for my trip by transferring to Broward College online school and finding a place to live near the city. Now, if you think that finding an apartment in South Florida is difficult, then you clearly have never lived in Washington, DC. After three weeks of exhausting searching, I finally managed to find a nice apartment in Pentagon City, VA.

 

It took me over 15 hours of driving to get from Florida to Virginia, but at least now I know that if politics do not work out for me, I can always work as a professional driver. On my way to my “home for the summer,” I got to briefly visit the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. My apartment was located right across the street from the Pentagon so many of my neighbors were military members. Although the DC metropolitan area felt very different from my hometown of Weston, I enjoyed being able to walk to Starbucks, Whole Foods, and even a major City Mall.

 

After interning for part of the summer, I started taking classes at a political think tank. I began with the Campaign Management School and moved on to Debate Workshops, Youth Leadership School, Fundraising Workshop, Public Relations School, Television Workshops as well as many others. Through these great classes, I got to gain useful political experience, meet distinguished officials (such as congressional chiefs of staff, directors of non-profit organizations, and political journalists), and even become friends with some like-minded individuals with whom I keep in touch to this day.

 

Every weekend, I visited museums, monuments, and homes of former presidents. I took a tour of the Capitol Building where we saw its stunning rotunda and even the office of the Speaker Paul Ryan. We also paid a visit to the National Archives where we got to see some of our nation’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Unites States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Even merely seeing these revolutionary papers gives you a very special kind of feeling. I also greatly enjoyed touring the Smithsonian Museums – everything from the Air and Space to the American History. Nevertheless, my favorite one was the Post Museum. It is probably the only museum that not only allows you to touch their exhibits, but also take them with you… For two hours, I sat there trying to decide which six stamps I want to take home.

 

In conclusion, living in Washington was a remarkable experience. It is a very historic city that gives you a very special kind of feeling. The memorials and monuments are truly beautiful and patriotic. In my opinion, every American should take some time to visit our nation’s capital.

Kate

August 30, 2017

 

State Update: How Will the New Laws Affect YOU?

 

In the recent months with the election of President Trump, healthcare reform, and other hot topic issues, we have been paying so much attention to the federal government and not nearly enough to the state government. For instance, not many Floridians are aware that a little over a month ago Governor Rick Scott vetoed 5 bills and signed 29 bills into law. But it is just as important (possibly, even more important) to stay up to date on the local affairs because state policies generally have an even greater influence on the people. For this reason, I decided to write this short article discussing the effect that these new laws will have on the residents of the Sunshine State.

 

Clearly, education is an essential matter to Governor Scott. In particular, by signing a bill on the Florida Education Finance Program, the Governor increased the K-12 funding by $100 per-student, making it the highest in our state’s history. To put it in perspective, after the passage of this new bill, the total education capital of the state has expanded to $20.6 billion.

 

Another law, Educational Options, broadened the Gardiner Scholarship Program as well as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Thus, providing more dedicated and talented students with beneficial resources as well as prosperous opportunities.

 

The newly signed law on instructional material in schools received more spotlight that any other. This bill encourages greater public input on the information that is taught in our schools. Although not all agree with this piece of legislation, I find it potentially helpful to the education program in our state. After all, it is always better to have more transparency in both our government and our school system. Parents’ ideas and feedback can improve our education system, making it more efficient and successful.

 

The bill on the Economic Development is another great legislation that is worth mentioning. First of all, it forms a new $85 million fund, which will bolster public infrastructure and promote job training. The law also funds VISIT FLORIDA - a program that promotes tourism in our Sunshine State. Interestingly, our extensive tourism industry helps Floridians more than they tend to realize. In fact, thanks to the visitors, our state remains to be one of only seven that do not have an income tax. This allows us, the residents, to save extra money and choose how to spend it ourselves.

 

As you can see, the state government makes some of the biggest decisions in our state. Therefore, I encourage you to visit official Florida government websites to learn more about each of these laws and find out how they will affect you personally. It is our responsibility and duty to have a say on what is happening in our government; sometimes by even petitioning legislators, contacting the governor, or writing an opinion piece on a new law.

 

- http://www.flgov.com/2017/06/26/governor-rick-scott-signs-29-bills-into-law-vetoes-five/

 

- http://laws.flrules.org/

Kate

July 18, 2017

Our Next Governor: Meet the Candidates

 

In November of 2018 Floridians will come out to vote for a new governor. The incumbent, Rick Scott, is facing mandatory resignation due to the term limits. Thus, liberals and conservatives have an equal chance of taking the governorship. Although this election is still over fifteen months away, several candidates from both parties have already declared their intention to run for this esteemed position. While Democrats are hoping to recapture the office after 20 years of endless loses, Republicans are working diligently to keep the control of this influential seat. But how probable are their chances?

Current Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was one of the first Democrats to announce his bid for governor. Gillum is a zealous progressive and a fervent advocate for minorities. As noticeable by his actions and words, Gillum strongly believes in standing up against conservative policies. Moreover, he does not shy away from criticizing the current Republican administration of Florida. Another notable candidate who intends to turn Florida blue is a former congresswoman Gwen Graham who is now campaigning for her father’s old job. She aspires to become Florida’s first female governor. Gwen’s campaign is built on education reform and environmental protection. Although she certainly possesses the right experience and qualifications, the last presidential election showed just how insignificant these qualities can be to voters. Due to her political history, some may perceive Gwen as a part of the establishment. The rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump sent a distinct message to politicians – the voters crave change. They want to elect someone who is not a government insider. Those who share this opinion might be more likely to support the “dark horse” candidate, businessman Chris King. While King poses himself as a person who gets things done, he also supports basic Democratic values.

Physician Usha Jain, physical therapist Bruce Nathan, businessman Angel Luis Rivera, and chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida Bob White have already revealed that they will be seeking the Republican nomination for governor. In addition, Adam Putnam’s campaign appears to be receiving great attention and support from all over the state. He is Florida’s current Commissioner of Agriculture and a former five-term congressman. Putnam is now on a bus tour, traveling around the sunshine state, listening to his potential constituents’ concerns and requests. His long career in public service makes Putnam by far the most experienced and competent individual to run the state of Florida. However, there is a possibility of a “surprise candidate” as well - Broward County’s own businessman Ron Bergeron who is a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Although he has not formally declared yet, his candidacy might play a major role in this election.

There are certainly many great gubernatorial candidates. We can already predict that no matter who becomes the parties’ nominees, the general election will be a tough fight. Keep an eye on the new candidates too, as we get closer to November. This vote will greatly influence the government of Florida and determine who takes the Governor’s Mansion for at least the next four years. As of now, we can only guess who this person will be. However, if the 2016 election taught us anything, it is that we might want to prepare to expect the unexpected.

 

Kate

May 4, 2017

Political Science Group: A Year in Review

 

Last week Student Life held the Sammy Awards where many students and clubs were recognized for their service among campus. As President of the Political Science Group (PSG), I am proud to say that our organization received the Outstanding Leadership Award. It is a great honor and a true pleasure to work on political events alongside other dedicated board members. Since the Sammys emphasize the end of 2016-2017 school year, let’s recap everything PSG has done during this time-period and how it has affected our Broward College community!

 

One of the most notable PSG’s accomplishments this year was the U.S. Senate debate. Many of our members received a remarkable opportunity to be directly involved in the preparatory process for this critical, possibly election deciding, event. Two months prior to the debate, PSG began arranging town halls with various speakers, such as Florida House Representatives, Broward Supervisor of Elections, and other political dignitaries. These guests included members of major political parties as well as judges. The attendees asked these political figures questions on miscellaneous topics which expanded their comprehension of local, state, and national government. Furthermore, we set up a student debate between Trump and Hillary supporters. It allowed the audience to hear both points of view. Several PSG members also got a chance to act as mock debaters and moderators. Afterwards, they watched the debates live from the auditorium or participated in one of the focus groups, discussing the candidates’ responses with their peers.

 

Additionally, our political organization came up with the Debrief Discussion on Election Results as well as the Inauguration Symposium. Undoubtedly, the 2016 election was one of the most controversial in America’s modern history. For this reason, we tried to heal this severe political divide among students by having a peaceful discussion. Because we encouraged students to share their stances on electoral college and presidency, many different opinions were voiced. Our main intention in organizing these events was to help unite our campus and country, particularly the millennial generation, after such a divisive election. Gladly, our efforts were not in vain.

 

Another event which we diligently worked on was a meeting with the former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll. This meeting, organized in honor of the African-American History Month, gave students an opportunity to hear about Ms. Carroll’s experience in the Navy as well as her governmental service. Similarly, in celebration of Women’s History Month, we hosted a forum with five prominent women in Broward County politics.

 

In conclusion, I have no doubt that this is just the beginning for the Political Science Group. As we move forward, bigger events will be organized, more political speakers will be invited, and leadership seminars will be conducted. We are fully committed to our cause - providing students with beneficial opportunities and platforms for open political discussions.

Kate

April 28, 2017

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron: French Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

 

This Sunday France held the first round of its presidential election. While initially there were eleven candidates, only the leading two advanced to the second round. It has been announced that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are the two candidates to run in the final election in early May. In certain ways, this election reminds me of the one carried out by the United States last November. However, will the result be the reflective?

 

Marine Le Pen, similarly to Hillary Clinton, has a chance to become a first female-president of her country. Despite the fact that Le Pen shares some political views with Secretary Clinton, such as endorsement of same-sex marriage and opposition to the death penalty, her other stances, particularly on immigration and nationalism, more closely match those of President Donald Trump. Le Pen believes in taxing foreign workers as well as putting an end to “uncontrolled immigration.” To be fair, facts and statistics clearly demonstrate that a serious immigration and refugee problem is rapidly growing in France. Therefore, in efforts to make French streets safer for citizens to walk, Le Pen aims to reform the current system. In addition, she supports more nationalistic policies than her political rival does. She has already expressed her discontent with the European Union; thus, if elected, we should prepare to see “Frexit” in the earliest stages of her presidency. Because of these particular stances, the media world-wide describes Le Pen as the “female Donald Trump.”

 

Emmanuel Macron, at age 39, strives to become France’s youngest president. Interestingly, French youth tend to support his older opponent. Le Pen has created a true movement among the millennial generation, which might actually put her across the victory line. Although during the last two years, Macron served as a minister of economy, industry, and digital affairs, the election has not been as easy for him as many would have forecasted. Macron endorses free trade agreements like the European Union’s Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada. While some avidly back his positive stance on the European Union, others strongly criticize it. In addition, Macron supports an “open border” type of immigration policy similar to the one implemented by Angela Merkel in Germany and proposed by Hillary Clinton in America. Unlike his presidential contender, Macron firmly stands by immigrants and Muslim refugees.

 

Like the two former American presidential candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen disagree on many issues. Even though Macron is more of an establishment-like presidential candidate, it is difficult to tell how this election will turn out. We have seen how unreliable the polls can be during the 2016 elections. In that same year, we have experienced a number of unexpected outcomes, including Donald Trump’s presidential victory and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. If this course continues into 2017, Le Pen’s victory is more probable than it appears. In the first-round, however, Macron received 3% more votes than Le Pen did. Will the number alter? The future will show. The runoff election on May 7th will determine who takes the presidential office. Until then, we can only watch and guess.

Kate

April 21, 2017

Socialism: The Illusion of Equality: An Opinion Piece by Kate Koptenko

 

 

During the last presidential election, many millennials - students particularly - demonstrated strong support for a self-declared socialist candidate. Frankly, I found it to be strange and practically inexplicable, considering the restrictive qualities of socialism. Is it because the word “socialism” just sounds good? Or is it because many people are merely unfamiliar with this political ideology? Well, coming from Russia (a former socialistic nation) I have heard a lot from my grandparents’ and parents’ first-hand experience. What I learned did not just surprised me – it shocked me. Therefore, I decided to do my own research and present my findings below.

 

First and foremost, socialism has been ineffectively practiced in other countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, and most notoriously the Soviet Union. Each time this system has been put in place, it has not fulfilled its abundant promises. On the contrary, with socialism, governments become too authoritative, and oftentimes extremely intrusive. Both the Cuban and Venezuelan socialist regimes resulted in thousands of exiles, especially to South Florida. Socialism begins with noble intentions, but eventually becomes corrupted. Imprisonment without due process and travel prohibitions are just a few consequences that this system brings. The Soviet Union is one notable example. In this poor system, private property did not exist. Instead, almost everything was owned by non-democratically elected government insiders. The Soviet Union’s diverse industries had no way to develop. Hence, the lack of opportunity to support itself led to the Union’s fall. Clearly, history has proven socialism to be a discriminatory and an impractical philosophy.

 

Secondly, socialism puts a burden on businesses while capitalism's reduced regulations and lowered taxes encourage business growth and competition. The principle of trickle-down economics, promoted by President Ronald Reagan, demonstrates that cutting taxes is not only profitable for employers, but also beneficial for employees as well. Currently, many millennials wrongly believe that it is the government's responsibility to provide work opportunities. The number of jobs the government can give is limited; the rest can only come from the private sector. But the unreasonably high taxes discourage investments and motivation to work, which in turn negatively impacts the middle class, a group already struggling to find suitable jobs. Thus, the taxes which are intended to help the average American would instead act against him/her. For this reason, business advancement should be our primary concern if helping our own citizens is our main goal. It is evident that socialism cannot meet this important goal.

 

Finally, socialism establishes a weak education system. To begin with, socialistic education involves propaganda and limits freedom of speech. It restricts students’ ability to come to their own conclusions, forcing them to side with the government, even when tyrannical policies are supported by an administration. Furthermore, the free educational system that socialists so passionately endorse is largely built on deception. There is no such thing as free college; the idea itself would cost taxpayers approximately 75 billion dollars a year. Therefore, socialism unfairly makes hard-working Americans financially responsible for their unmotivated counterparts. In the wise words of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, "the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." Moreover, it is essential to note that the suggested free college system which was “so well” executed in Sweden and Germany could not function in the United States because federalism in which education jurisdiction belongs to the states. In other words, education budget differs from state to state. This is exactly why the "one size fits all" approach would be inadequate. Socialism offers an incompetent education system.

 

In conclusion, socialist political leaders falsely claim that their philosophy is the key to a better life. They promise unrealistic results, but remain vague when it comes to its implementation. Their vows are purely irrational and unattainable. Socialism makes the rich poor, and the poor even poorer. It attempts to distribute wealth, but eventually one “runs out of other people's money." Power is taken away from the people, often establishing an unreasonable and authoritarian government. Additionally, socialism undermines productivity and growth. As

Americans, we must continue to support our capitalistic stances with a commitment to compassion to those in need. It is our absolute duty to firmly stand behind our principals and beliefs.

Kate

April 14, 2017

Justice Neil Gorsuch: The Path to Confirmation

 

Earlier this week the honorable Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as a new US Supreme Court Justice - a position currently held by only eight other individuals. After getting nominated by President Trump this January, Judge Gorsuch has faced some strong opposition and intense scrutiny from both, Congress and media. Many Americans, on the other hand, demonstrated a massive support for the judge by petitioning their senators, participating in the social media campaigns, and organizing rallies in state capitals. The clear message they sent to Washington was probably one of the main causes of this success. However, while practically all republicans voted in favor of Gorsuch, only three democrats decided to support him as well. So, the question remains: what caused such a great difference in the vote? And what really made this judicial confirmation fight so challenging?

Democratic senators stated several reasons for their resistance against Gorsuch. According to a liberal legislator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gorsuch refused to "answer the most rudimentary questions in the hearings." Likewise, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-VT) publicly condemned certain parts of Gorsuch’s record, while Jeff Markley (D-OR) even declared that he would do “anything in his power” to block Gorsuch’s confirmation. Still, there were some democrats who disagreed with their partisan colleagues. For instance, Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) explained their support of Gorsuch by praising his record.

On the other hand, some conservative lawmakers argued that the democratic opposition had nothing to do with Gorsuch himself, but rather with the person nominating him. Undoubtedly, the overwhelming majority of democrats are not glad to have Donald Trump in the presidential office. This Republican point makes the most sense when the previous voting records are presented. Notable democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and even Chuck Schumer, who now so fervently opposes Gorsuch, voted in favor of him back in 2006 when he was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Was the reason for such a great democratic opposition really Gorsuch’s competence or the democratic partisanship? Senator Linsey Graham (R-SC) seemed to agree with the latter, saying that he voted for both of President Obama’s nominee because they were qualified. He was convinced that Gorsuch was “every bit as qualified”, and therefore hoped that democrats would do the same.

Although democrats filibustered the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, republicans resorted to the so-called “nuclear option.” The main purpose of this was to lower the number of votes needed from a supermajority of 60 to a simple majority of 51. It is interesting to note that democrats set the nuclear option precedent back 2013 by changing the senate rules to confirm some of President Obama’s appointees; republicans just extended this method to the U.S. Supreme Court nominees.

 

After two months of heated controversy and disputes, Neil Gorsuch has officially become our associate Supreme Court Justice. He has taken Anthony Scalia’s place, who passed away 14 months ago. It is too early to judge (no pun intended) how successful the appointment of Gorsuch was. Whether you like him or not, we can all agree that we hope to see him as an impartial and balanced justice who will stay true to the U.S. Constitution.

Kate

April 7, 2017

Notable Women of the Sunshine State

 

In honor of the women’s history month, the Social Behavioral Sciences Department conducted several very successful events. One of them was “Women in Florida Politics”, organized by the Political Science Group. The goal of the event was to answer an essential question - which women influenced and shaped the foundation of Florida’s government? My research has led me to discover some truly determined and courageous ladies.

 

First, Julia Tuttle was a businesswoman and founder of the city of Miami. As a Floridian and a former Miami resident myself, I am proud to say that it is the only major American city to be founded by a woman. For this reason, Tuttle has gone down in history as the "Mother of Miami."

 

Another great lady who contributed to the legacy of Miami as a city of prominent women was Janet Reno. From a young age, Reno demonstrated her strong character and unceasing ambition by attending Harvard University School of Law, becoming one of only sixteen girls in a class of five-hundred students. Undoubtedly, this was not the last time Reno had to work in disproportional male company, since she was the only female to participate in the first Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 1968. Moreover, about twenty years later, she was appointed to the position of Attorney General of the United States, becoming the first woman to ever serve in that capacity.

 

Likewise, Paula Hawkins has rightfully earned her place on "the most notable women of Florida" list. Hawkins has displayed persistent and relentless disposition. Although her first Senatorial campaign was unsuccessful, and she lost even before reaching the general election, Hawkins persevered, becoming the first woman to get elected to a statewide office in Florida. To this day, Hawkins remains the only female ever elected to the U.S. Senate from this state.

 

Finally, Jennifer Carroll has played a big role in modern politics. She immigrated to the United States as a child, and after turning the appropriate age, she boldly served her adopted country by joining the navy. Eventually, she acquired the post of lieutenant commander. After her resignation from the military, Carroll continued in public service, but this time on the House floor, rather than on the battlefield. In 2010, she became the first African-American and the first woman elected to the position of the Lieutenant Governor of Florida.

 

In conclusion, women have greatly impacted our sunshine state. They have displayed remarkable triumphs and firmly stood their ground. In the wise words of Janet Reno, “just remember, strength and courage. If you stand on your principal, you will never lose.” We have women to be grateful to for numerous accomplishments, as well as the current democratic condition of our state government. I have no doubt that women in Florida will diligently strive to make even greater advancements in education, military, and government in the decades to come.

 

Kate

March 31, 2017

 

Florida Constitution Revision Commission and Future of Florida Summit

 

A few weeks ago, two interns at the Social Behavioral Sciences Department of Broward College got a remarkable opportunity to attend the Future of Florida Summit in Gainesville. I had the honor of being one of them. Frankly, I might have learned more in those two days than I have in the last two months. Above all, this conference gave me and the other attendees a chance to directly participate in the state government and have our voices heard. The commission has the unique power to put any amendment directly on the ballot, without getting legislative approval. The commission only meets once every twenty years. Hence, for the most of us, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

 

The summit focused on the Florida Constitution, particularly on the following four sections: education, elections, the environment, and judiciary. A committee was created for each section, and every student was assigned to two committees. Then, by working in groups, the students had to write a useful amendment for the Florida Constitution. 

 

The conference was opened by Senator Graham, who briefly spoke about his political experience and thanked us for attending. One of the speakers even performed a cover of the Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Alexander Hamilton” rap song, changing its lyrics to the Florida Constitution writers’ names. Needless to say, the presentations were very interesting and there was overall great start to the conference.

 

The main events were held the next day. The students were separated into groups, debated their ideas, and drafted their first amendments. The drafts were reviewed by State Representative Sean Shaw former Florida Justice James Perry and others. Moreover, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Jon Mills, conducted a two-hour workshop on amendment drafting later that afternoon. 

 

The third and the final day primarily consisted of amendment presentations and award ceremony. After all the groups presented, the best three amendments were chosen by assigned judges and sent to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. 

 

I am proud to say that my group’s idea received third place and will be forwarded to the Constitution Revision Commission. Thus, now it has a chance to appear on the 2018 ballot, and if confirmed by the voters, it can become a part of the Florida constitution. It was great working with others and seeing how one’s very own proposal has the possibility of becoming a constitutional amendment, hopefully improving our political system. Such conferences are perfect motivators and an exceptional way to make a true difference in your community.

Kate 

ADDRESS

Broward College

A. Hugh Adams Central Campus

3501 SW, Davie Rd 

Davie FL 33314

CONTACT

Tel: (954) 201-6513

Email:  ssg@broward.edu

FOLLOW US

  • BCSBSHS
  • BCSBSHS
  • BCSBSHS
  • BCSBSHS

@BCSBSHS

/BCSBSHS

BCSBSHS

@BCSBSHS