Class hosts politically influential guest speakers

U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo speaks to students in The Election: 2016 course Tuesday night in Storer Auditorium. Hunter Crenian // Staff Photographer

Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo spoke Tuesday night of conspiracy theories, the #NeverTrump movement and morality to nearly 300 students enrolled in “The Election: 2016.” The by-announcement-only political science course features frequent guest speakers including members of Congress, senators, professors and other voices in the political community.

Curbelo followed Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who stopped by the class on the first week. Curbelo discussed general politics, his role in the counter-Trump movement within the Republican Party and the subsequent ramifications of the movement on the upcoming national election.

“I don’t think straight-party voting is healthy for a democracy,” Curbelo said. “I’m not going to endorse any candidate. We’ll see what happens in November. It’s no coincidence that the two candidates are among the most unpopular in our nation’s history.”

The discussion was sprinkled with other themes such as privacy and history, but mostly it centered on the political polarization characteristic to the upcoming presidential election.

“I, like many others, have been unable to throw full support behind either candidate,” Curbelo said.

Professors Fernand Amandi, Rudy Fernandez and Joseph Uscinski moderated the discussion. Amandi, who owns Bendixen and Amandi, a polling subsidiary of Univision, joined the conversation with his opinion on political conspiracies at play.

“I believe Donald Trump is a figure planted by the Democratic Party to divide the Republicans,” Amandi said.

Curbelo is preparing for his own upcoming re-election campaign and is hoping to garner support in the 26th district, which historically has had a split liberal and conservative demographic. He is active on Twitter and when asked by a student about his account, Curbelo said it is a strategy for earning the voters’ trust, specifically younger generations like the one he stood before.

“I like to err on the side of transparency; it’s important to ensure the electorate – and the millennial population – has trust in the government,” Curbelo said.

Although the official list of guest speakers for the course has been concealed from the student body and the general public, Uscinski said a “Clinton” will speak at some point.