dilluns, 5 de novembre del 2012

Jose Quintana: “If the American Dream used to be a mile, now it’s a mile and a half”

If you want to read the interview with the President of College Republicans at UCI, Jeremy Jang, click here.

Jose Quintana is just 24 years old but he is already very involved in politics. In fact, apart from being a Senior Political Sciences and Sociology Majors, he’s the President of the College Democrats at University of California Irvine and was the one who opened the Bill Clinton meeting at UCI. Just a few days before the American Presidential Elections, Adria’s News interviews him to talk about the main campaign issues, some controversial facts and the expectations of both Republican and Democratic parties finding out that Jose Quintana supports Barack Obama from the very beginning, he really likes the Castro Brothers and his favorite President is Franklin D. Roosevelt. In addition, when he is asked if he can imagine himself ending up in the White House he answers with a clever smile: “I don’t know, maybe, depends if I end up becoming a politician, and if I do, how far do I want to go, and how much time and effort do I wanna invest in my political career”.

First of all, what is this election mainly about?
For the most part I think the economy is the issue number one for the American voters. In California, specifically, we have Proposition 30 that’s affecting the University of California and the Community Colleges. That is an economic issue, but in a local context; so in California that’s the major issue right now. Economy is definitely the main thing.
Do you think Barack Obama will win?
I think so, yeah.
Will he have many more votes than Romney?
Well, my prediction is he’ll win between… because there are two components to winning the Presidency: you have to win the popular… well, you don’t necessarily need to win the popular vote, but that’s usually how that goes: you win the popular vote and by extension you win the Electoral College vote. I think Obama is gonna take probably 50.5% to 51% of the popular vote and he will win between 290 and 300 of the Electoral College vote.
How has President Obama changed since 2008? How different is the new Obama who is running for the White House in 2012?
The Obama who is running today, he’s more in the center, politically, than he was in 2008. What happens is that when you’re running against an opponent in the primary, you’re running for the base of the party so you have to appeal to… you have to go away from the center to the, you know, to whatever political aspect you belong. So in 2008, Obama had more of the liberal, more of the left standing. Now, in this election, because he needs to win a lot of independent voters who have gone away from him, he’s moved more to the center. This means he’s more liberal than Mitt Romney, obviously, but he’s definitely moved more to the center in terms of economic policy, immigration policy… he’s trying to increase the number of voters by going to the center.
Obama said: “There are no red states or blue states, just the United States”. Why now the situation is so polarized?
I think it has to do with the fact that the United States right now is going through a tough economic cycle, and when it affects people’s pocketbooks, when it’s money, people have very sharply contrasting views on how the economy should be fixed, and because the economy is such a big issue, and it’s really divisive, people are really, really focused on what they think the right solution is, and the candidates personify those views. That’s one of the reasons candidates keep repeating the same things again and again.

Election “The economy is the issue number one for the American voters”

Let’s suppose Obama loses, whom do you think that should run for the White House in four years time?
Yeah, I have a few. I think that in the Democratic Party there are a few people who come to my mind, such as the former Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. Another person would be Hillary Clinton, but it’s not… you know, not a lot of people think she’ll run, realistically. There’s also the Mayor of, I think it’s Newark, in New Jersey, Cory Booker. So these are the ones who I think are charismatic and substantial enough to actually become the President eventually.
You have mentioned Hillary. Did you support Obama or Hillary Clinton in last elections primaries?
I supported Obama.
Why do you think Hillary Clinton has refused to be Secretary of State for the next for years?
I think because she has other political ambitions, partly and also because Bill Clinton, he’s running the Clinton Global Initiative. And so I know Bill Clinton wants… He’s gotten Chelsea involved a lot and Hillary might want also to get very involved and probably get away from politics.
Two weeks ago Bill Clinton came to University of California Irvine (UCI) to give a speech to the students and you were the one who opened the meeting. How did you feel?
I was a little nervous, but for the most part excited to speak to a large portion of the student body here at UCI and I was excited just to have such a big event, a high profile event for UCI here, because our school isn’t known to be the most active and hopefully that can change that perception.
How was meeting Clinton, personally?
Ah, it was incredible. He’s a very charismatic person, and whenever he’s in a room he’s always the focus of the room. When he talks to you, you feel like you’re the only person in the room he’s talking to at that moment. He doesn’t acknowledge anybody, you know? He’s a very captivating speaker.
Yeah, in fact Bill Clinton is a very popular President in the USA. Does people have forgotten the Monica Lewinski’s scandal or just they don’t give much importance to it?
I think when people think about Bill Clinton they remember him now more for the way the economy was working. The Monica Lewinski scandal is kind of… I mean, people would remember so, but it’s in the past. I talk to people informally about Bill Clinton and they always think of Bill Clinton, not of Monica, and they remember that the nineties were good so…

Bill Clinton “People think of Bill Clinton, not of Monica Lewinski, and they remember that the nineties were good”

When the Republican Primaries ended what did you think of Governor Romney as the opponent of President Obama?
Well, my answer to that is kind of confusing, maybe, hopefully not but… I think Mitt Romney before the Primaries was definitely more moderate. But like I said: whenever a candidate is trying to win the Primaries, he will move more to the right or to the left depending on which party he’s in. And so, because Mitt Romney wanted to win the Republican Nomination, he had to move more to the right, to win Tea Party’s support, to win all these other people’s support. So, that kind of shows Mitt Romney’s character in one sense because he knows what he needs to say to win the prize and then, move on to the general election and go again to the center. So the Mitt Romney from before I wasn’t too against, but the Mitt Romney that came out of the Primaries, all the things he said… he kind of showed his very negative character. But I understand why he said the things he had to say, it’s just that he went a little too far, maybe.
Would you have preferred another Republican candidate to be Obama’s opponent instead of Mitt Romney?
I think so, because I mean, maybe with someone like Rick Santorum or, you know, what’s her name… Michelle Bachmann, Obama would have had an easy chance, so I would have preferred an easier candidate.
And then, few weeks ago you had the Democratic National Convention. Did you go to Charlotte?
No, I did not go to Charlotte. I wish I would have, but I had a lot of stuff going on.
Mitt Romney said that: “If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover” after the National Democrats Convention, referring to the unemployment rate over 8%. Do you think Obama should have handled better the unemployment issue?
President Obama cannot do a lot of things to deal with unemployment, I mean, his options are really limited. You know, he can’t just say, “I’m gonna hire all these people”. He can meet with business leaders, he can kind of create economic strategies with these business leaders, and he can kind of go out and use the media to propose new ideas for how to get the economy working.
To set the proper mood…
Yeah, and functionally he can use his power as the executive to use the federal bureaucracy, to cut regulation... So I think that within the guidelines that he’s had to work with, as a President, I think he’s done a pretty good job. I mean unemployment has gone from I think 10.2% in 2010 down to about 7.8% today, so we’re not back to full employment but we’re kind of going in the right direction.

Republicans “Republicans can of be a little bit crazy proving their point”

The American Vice-President, Joe Biden said this quote in the Democrats National Convention: “Bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive!” Don’t you think it’s a little bit rough to proclaim the death of a person, even if it is Bin Laden?
I think that American politics involve so many morbid details like that because… I think part of the reason why American politics are like that because of September 11th. We saw destruction of such a huge scale that Americans are not gonna forget that for a very, very long time. They’ll probably never forget it. And for them is a huge psychological trauma, a step towards kind of regenerating what was lost… They wanna have a closure, and the way to have closure is bringing the people who perpetrated the act to justice. And the killing of Osama Bin Laden represents a former closure for a lot of Americans, and Americans are very desensitized to death and destruction. We had wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we were can of used to that sort of thing.
Do you agree with the decision of keeping Joe Biden in the Vice-President charge or would you suggest another person to substitute him?
I think Joe Biden has done a pretty decent job staying in relatively low-profiled and raising his profile when he needed to support the President, so... A Vice-President should never hurt the President, obviously, in terms of standing and that kind of things. He’s made mistakes but I think overall he’s a good Vice-President and he should stay.
Did you see the Republican National Convention on TV?
I didn’t actually see the whole thing but I saw some pieces, specially the Clint Eastwood’s part.
What do you think about his speech?
That’s emblematic of the Republican Party today. It doesn’t really show you any substantive policy consideration, all that shows you that Republicans can of be a little bit crazy proving their point.
He said: “Politicians are our employees”. Do you agree?
I do agree with that.
But do you really have the sense they are working for us?
No. That’s the thing. I don’t think they work on our interest all the time. They also worked for the people who gave them the money to run their campaigns, so I do agree with Eastwood in that point. However I was a little bit surprised he said that and I think the Republicans, specially, were even more surprised.

Bin Laden “Americans will probably never forget the 9/11”

A controversial fact about Obama is he has not keep his word to close Guantanamo.
Yeah, that’s for me a big point and I think Obama should have closed Guantanamo Bay, I think he probably will at some point if he gets reelected but the reason I think he hasn’t closed this is because we’re still fighting the war of Afghanistan. Were do you put all the people form Afghanistan? But I really wish he could have closed it.
Obama also promised to do an immigration reform but he actually didn’t.
Yeah, I think that the reason why is because he prioritized things when he became the President. His first priority was his Stimulus Act to get the economy working again; his second priority was health care and, you know, between health care and the stimulus issue where the car companies getting destabilized. Immigration is partly an economic thing but it’s also a social issue and it’s very divisive. So he didn’t want to touch that at that point. In fact, I think what he wanted with the immigration reform was to strengthen his Hispanic portion of the base.
Do you think that base will vote Romney now?
No. I think the Hispanic base in the United States is still very solidly Democratic. Maybe as not as 2008 but a big part will vote Democrat.
You have Julian Castro and Joaquin Castro. People called them the Hispanic Kennedy’s. Somebody compare Julian Castro with Obama, as Castro opened this year convention and Obama did the same in Boston 2004.
There’s a parallelism, definitely. In 2016, among the group of people that probably should run for the White House, I think the Castro brothers, either Julian or Joaquin, are gonna be good candidates for that.
The United States opposed Gaddafi’s dictatorship and interfered in the Libya war. Why he did not move a finger for Syria?
I think a reason behind that is because… when we went to Libya we were not personally best friends; we got a security counsel authorization to impose a no-fly zone over there and this, in the eyes of China and Russia was very strict. So now the analysis is very reluctant to go into Syria because we don’t have enough flights from authorization. And to get more flights we need China and Russia. But we have to think Syria is an important region for them in geopolitics. They need Syria and they need Baixar al-Assad and they are not gonna support any no-fly zone over Syria. And by extension, if there is no fly-zone over Syria, France, United States, England, are not gonna go and support the rebels. That’s partly why I think there is a kind of ambiguity there.
There was a lot of controversy about Obama winning the Nobel Prize. Do you think he deserved it?
That’s an interesting question. I am not sure and there was a big controversy politically. Here, in the USA, people thought it was too soon. I think the Nobel Prize Committee was maybe making a statement that anybody who wasn’t George Bush was gonna change the path of the country.

Guantanamo  “I think Obama should have closed Guantanamo”

After Bengasi and Cairo attacks Mitt Romney told reporters the next: “I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. An apology for America’s values is never the right course.” How would you reply him?
I would say that we can’t jump to conclusions about what the facts on the ground are and which was apparently what Mitt Romney did, he jumped to conclusions and he kind of made a statement prematurely before he knew which all the facts on the ground were and so I think that making him having such a prominent standing because the American Election are watched everywhere and what a candidate says goes a long way, he should be careful to say statements like this because he could potentially be President and then all his statements will come back to him.
How do you judge the way Obama has treat the EU crisis?
You know, I think the options in the USA are limited in dealing with the European crisis. If it were the 1990s, USA would be in a better position to help, but we’re also in a very poor situation. Even in China they’re expecting 7% growth but they use to grow more than this. So Europe is a really complicated thing. You have Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, who are facing very top fiscal problems but we have to face ours, too.
The Democrats want to make Medicare stronger and have also approved the sanitary reform. Why, then, the Republicans have much more older voters?
Because the Republicans are good at doing two things with elderly voters. Older voters are generally making any new income anymore, so they don’t want any new taxes in the income they made in the past and secondly, they’ve created a very good perception within the elderly community that the Democrats want to take away their Medicare and use the money that they take from Medicare to give it to younger people. Those are the two things that Republicans are very good at doing with elderly people. 

Romney “Romney should be careful because he could potentially be President and then all his statements will come back to him”

Michelle Obama said, regarding the American Dream: “Change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.” Do you agree everyone can achieve the American Dream?
I think so, still, the United States still have a pretty strong educational system, even though it’s not where it used to be, but still pretty strong, our economy is not as good as before, but it’s still pretty strong as well. I think then, if you work hard you can make it. That comes with the additional side that you have to have the right immigration status also, you can’t be undocumented here and achieve the American Dream. It’s impossible. There was a time, not so long ago, where you could come as an undocumented immigrant, work hard, earn residency and move to the steps to achieve citizenship and progress. Right now it’s a very tough proposition, so I think the American Dream is still there and  if it was a track, the American Dream used to be a mile, now it’s a mile and a half.
The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said this after Colorado shooting: “The President has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue of gun control.” Do you agree?
No. I mean, President Obama has done virtually nothing to restrict guns laws. He’s done anything, so the notion that the President is trying to take away people’s guns is to me ridiculous because he’s done nothing for taking guns away.
Is it an important issue?
No. Not in this election. Guns are they’re very far away in people’s minds.

Hispanic Vote “The Hispanic base in the United States is still very solidly Democratic”

Who is your favorite politician of the Democratic Party at the moment?
Obama is definitely the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party. There are definitely some rising stars, such as the Castro Brothers. It’s funny, because when you say Castro brothers we used to think about someone else, but now we can say the ‘American Castro Brothers’. Gavin Newson. Cory Booker, Hillary Clinton. I don’t have a favorite, but I have a group of favorites.
Have you met President Obama?
No. I wish, but not yet. Hopefully soon, but not yet.
Tell me something Romney has done well.
I think Mitt Romney he’s done well moving to the center after he won the primary nomination because that’s where he naturally is. I mean, I don’t think he is a severe conservative like he says. One of the things he did well as Governor of Massachusetts was the Health Care Reform. It’s really popular in Massachusetts.
Tell me something Obama has done badly.
I think they’re several things Obama could have done better. For instance, what I think was handled very poorly was the health care debate in 2009-2010. I think if he had set his ground a little bit better, he could have definitely achieved more policy preferences rather than having to adopt the generally Republican idea.
Name a United States President.
For me Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He’s definitely one of my favorites.
Do you see yourself running for President eventually?
I don’t know, maybe, depends if I end up becoming a politician, and if I do, how far do I want to go, and how much time and effort do I wanna invest in my political career.

Julian Castro “When you say Castro Brothers we used to think about someone else, but now we can say the American Castro Brothers”

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