On Saturday, Feb. 20, student organization Raise Up provided transport for UNCG student activists to the Republican Debate in Greenville, South Carolina.
The organization fights for a $15 dollar minimum wage, union rights, supports Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, and says no to Islamophobia.
Raise Up provided vans and buses and picked up student activists at 6:45 a.m. and went to Historic Thousands on Jones (HKonJ) people’s assembly before heading to Greenville, SC for the Republican Debate.
It was free and all of the meals for the day were provided.
“I feel like the rally is a good thing for students to participate in because it allows us, as students, to voice how we feel about where the country should go.” said Aron Johnson, Junior Political Science major and President of the UNCG College Democrats
The Republican Debate was composed of the the six presidential candidates: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.
Jeb Bush has on several occasions stated his belief in the state minimum wage but argues that the federal government should not have one.
“We need to leave it to the private sector. I think that state minimum wages are fine, the federal government shouldn’t be doing this,” said Bush.
The former Florida governor stated that although raising the minimum wage would benefit lower income persons in the short term, it will stop job growth and businesses will cut losses and fire employees in the long run.
Bush has stated that it is a great soundbite politically to raise the minimum wage but will not be successful economically.
Bush dropped out of the presidential race on February 20 stating, “The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
Raise Up wants the GOP candidates to acknowledge that the workers were out there ‘fighting the good fight’ for a living wage of $15.
“I believe that immediate action is important. I felt very disenfranchised with other organizations that might’ve claimed to care about black and brown folks yet failed to do real grassroots work and organizing for their rights.” said Lucia Sedda, a freshman and a double major in Political Science and Women & Gender Studies.
The organization has made it a habit of going to different candidates’ speeches and debates including the past Democratic Debate in Charleston and the Donald Trump protest in Raleigh.
Raise Up also believes that Islamophobia has been surging and needs to be stopped.
Republican candidate Trump has been known to make questionable comments regarding this such as, “The people who knocked down the World Trade Center, they didn’t fly back to Sweden” in his 60 Minutes interview.
“We feel the system, including politics, the economy, and more, has failed us.” said the President of the UNCG College Democrats, “And because it has failed us we’re looking for ways to get involved to help fix what’s broken, to help prevent the system from failing us again.”
Ben Carson’s view on immigration stands that the system is broken.
The neurosurgeon believes to repair the immigration system involves securing the border, solving the existing illegal immigrant population, and restoring the concept of the American melting pot.
Carson’s full plan is on his presidential website and states that the country must do better to protect the homeland while continuing the tradition of welcoming new Americans.
Carson states in his plan that the national sovereignty and security demands are important and need to be met.
The republican candidate has stated that under his administration he would solve immigration by building a double or triple layered fence across the United States-Mexican border.
He also believes incorporating a required biometric visa through Homeland Security will help to record people temporarily admitted to the United States.
In terms of the Black Lives Matter movement, recurring demonstrations after the deaths of Trayvon Martin in 2013 and Michael Brown in 2014 among others have fueled the social movement.
“This is a legitimate issue, irrespective of how you may feel about how people behave, it’s their first amendment right to talk about this,” said Senator Marco Rubio in a recent Fox interview.
The senator also stated that,“It’s particularly endemic among young African-American males that in some communities in this country, have a much higher chance of interacting with criminal justice than higher education. We do need to face this.”
Rubio talked about how it was a “national problem that needs to be confronted because it is real,” telling a story of an African-American male colleague who had been stopped eight to nine times in the past 18 months without any tickets.
“If that happened to me after eight or nine times, you know I’d be wondering what’s going on here. I’d be upset about it.” said Rubio.
Sedda stated that there were some people at the GOP Debate with confederate flags that were there chanting racist slurs, but that the workers’ voices were louder.
In common opposition to workers’ interests, Ted Cruz has also taken a stance on the disadvantages of raising the minimum wage.
Cruz, who opposed President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage in 2015, has stated that it would affect young people who would lose or not be able to get jobs.
Cruz has said that policies like raising the minimum wage would make it harder “on those struggling to achieve the American Dream.”
Cruz gave an example of his Cuban immigrant father whose first job was a dishwasher for 50 cents an hour.
“The minimum wage would have been raised from 50 cents to two dollars and they wouldn’t be able to hire my dad. It would have cost him the first job that let him pay his way through college” said Senator Cruz.
Governor John Kasich however expressed that he was in support of a reasonable federal minimum wage increase last year but has since changed his stance to a state level increase.
“If you’re going to have a raising of the minimum wage, it ought to be something that gets calculated between employers and labor.” said Kasich, “And I fundamentally believe it ought to be done at the state level.”
The Ohio governor has also been vocal about his opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a CBS interview, Kasich stated that there are people in inner cities who feel like the system works against them and claims that in some cases, they are right.
“We created a program to take a look at the issue of community and police, an organization made up of great diversity,” said Kasich.
When asked by a CNN on whether all lives matter, Kasich replied, “All lives do matter, Black lives matter especially now.”
After the debate Sedda expressed her enthusiasm for the turnout and involvement of the students.
She said that many students are ready to go out and vote in the primaries and in the upcoming general election for someone who supports their beliefs.
“The protest itself was amazing. This was the largest one I had gone to yet.” said Lucia Sedda.
The student activists voiced their mission through chanting, “We can’t survive on $7.25”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “The workers united will never be defeated.”
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