University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Hosts Former U.S. District Representatives Joe Garcia and Anthony Weiner

Congressmen conduct a Q&A with political science students to discuss Latino politics and the 2016 Presidential Primary Elections

The atmosphere in Storer Auditorium at the University of Miami (UM) was one of visible excitement as students and faculty alike realized their good fortune. This week the UM College of Arts & Sciences Department of Political Science hosted guest speakers former U.S. Representatives Joe Garcia and Anthony Weiner, who sat down with Fernand Amandi, an instructor in the department, to discuss the importance of the Latino vote in the increasingly divisive 2016 Presidential Elections.

Both Garcia and Weiner took questions from the mostly student audience on topics ranged from immigration reform to Republican candidate Donald Trump, polling numbers, and the U. S. policy on Cuba. Political science students were treated to this rare event of having two former Democratic heavyweights discuss the current candidates political strategies, their contributions, and insight into the inner workings of presidential campaigning.

Addressing the importance of the millennial vote, Garcia said, “Not understanding the makeup of these millennials is crucial to what’s happening, when you look at the fact that almost half of millennials are Hispanic.”

One of the major topics discussed during the Q&A session was illegal immigration, a polarizing issue that can either make or break a candidate’s support from the Latino community. Being able to earn the backing of interest groups is one of the key tasks of advancing in politics, a topic Garcia did not shy away from.

“We need to have borders that are secured to some degree, but the idea that it’s the Mexican border is absurd. Forty percent of the people in the United States have overstayed visa, so you can build a wall, a moat, a fence, and a geodesic cover of the whole thing – you got a visa, you get to come in,” said Garcia. However, he did not stop there, taking a swipe at the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“Even if Donald Trump gets elected…who’s going to tend his golf courses?” joked Garcia.

Overall, according to Garcia, the future of the U.S. is not so bleak. The U.S., he stated, in the long-term is in better economic shape than our allies.

The event shifted when guest speaker Anthony Weiner took to the stage. The former U.S Representative opened with a brief and humorous account of his role in the widely panned, straight-to-video film Sharknado 3, alluding that he may appear in Sharkando 4 due to the fact his character survived.

No one could deny the aura of engagement as Weiner progressed into his discussion about the different roles that Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are playing as they compete for the nomination for President. Displaying his usual energy and casual demeanor in front of a captive audience, the primary emphasis he made throughout the night focused on the frequent role polls play in politics, and how erroneous it is to place all bets on the polling process.

“The truth is, about the polling, is that it is taking a position in our national civic conversation, and it’s ridiculous,” said Weiner. “These polls are ridiculous, and they tell us nothing that we need to know about our civic conversation. All they do is reinforce the notion that we are in a sporting event. This isn’t a sporting event. It’s not a game.”

The importance of the evening could not be understated since South Florida has one of the largest Latino demographics in the United States and UM will host Republicans at a debate on March 10 – five days before Florida’s primary vote on March 15.

This event could not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of political science Professor Joseph Uscinski, Fernand Amandi, (who collectively teach the course Latino Politics and the 2016 Primaries), and Rudy Fernandez, chief of staff to President Julio Frenk.

(Photo caption (L to R): Former U.S. Representatives Anthony Weiner and Joe Garcia visted the University of Miami to talk Latino politics and the upcoming 2016 election with students.)

 

February 17, 2016