Compared to the throngs of people coming to see President Barack Obama at UCF’s CFE Arena on Friday afternoon, the crowd protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership was small. But their passion for politics, inspired by Bernie Sanders, was large and solidified enough to convince you that, one day, they could make the change they desired.
Once called the “Knights for Bernie,” after Sanders ended his campaign last summer, they changed their name to the Progressive Action at UCF group. Their leader, 19-year-old UCF student Bryn Taylor, said the point of their being at the Obama rally was to hopefully turn a few heads and raise awareness of the TPP that Obama has been pushing so heavily in the last year.
“We want Obama and other Democratic candidates to know we are against this,” she said. “We are aware of it and we do not support it. We are young progressives and we’re heading to the voting booths in November.”
She said they opposed the TPP because it would do harm to American jobs, and open the door for corporations to sue governments for impeding on their profits.
They first heard about the deal and its perils when Bernie Sanders talked about it earlier this year, Taylor told FloridaPolitics.com.
“We learned about it from him and his speeches,” she said. “He said it would be really bad for government sovereignty, raising the minimum wage, and climate change.”
Another member of the group, Reimar Francisco, 24, raised another concern — a TPP clause that would increase the patent times on biological medicine and other drugs, some needed for cancer treatment and other ills.
“People who need treatment can use generics to bring the cost down,” Francisco said. “But this could increase the limit and make it take longer for the generics to come out. That could make it harder for people who can’t afford the medication they need.”
On how they were voting now that their candidate Sanders was no longer an option, Taylor talked of a club divided — some voting for Hillary Clinton, she said, and others were sticking it out with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, currently hovering around 2 percent of the vote nationwide.
Taylor herself said she was undecided right now.
Francisco said he was voting for Stein.
“I really liked what Bernie Sanders had to say,” he said. “It was in line with what I had thought about the government for a long time. He didn’t get the nomination, but he spurred me on. I’m voting for Jill Stein. She’s more in line with my thoughts and the solutions I think the country needs.”
Also voting for Stein at the protest was 23-year-old Jim Graves, the lone protester who wasn’t a UCF student currently, though he had been in the past. Graves said Stein had his vote because he was hoping to bolster her support for future elections.
“I voted for her to get her to 5 percent of the vote,” he said. “She can get momentum for the next election. I want to help get grassroots candidates all across the board, not just president. No more wars.”
Fellow club member Stephen Beale, 19, said Hillary Clinton would be his choice — but with caveats.
“I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, but we need to make sure she stands up to her campaign promises, and plans to move toward more progressive stances,” he said.