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Political science professor doubles as activist

By NATE GARDNER

Michael Broache, assistant professor of political science, started a chapter of Indivisible in Tampa in January, an national organization aiming to make the views of its members visible to elected officials, and to hold those elected officials accountable for the decisions they make.

The organization was modeled off the Indivisible Guide–a document written by a group of former congressional staffers after the presidential election. It outlines ways for citizens to resist President Donald Trump’s policies.

The Tampa chapter, although only loosely organized with no real memberships or meetings, has nearly 1,500 followers on Facebook. The chapter regularly gathers dozens of people at its weekly “Resist Trump Tuesdays” protests held on the corner of Kennedy and Dale Mabry.

This is a new location for the group. They used to protest outside Senator Marco Rubio’s headquarters on Kennedy Boulevard near Westshore Plaza until Rubio was kicked out of that office because of the disruption the protests caused.

Despite national headlines and news coverage of the ejection, getting Rubio evicted was never the group’s goal.

“There was never any intention of getting Senator Rubio kicked out of his office, and it’s deeply unfortunate that they have not found an office yet,” Broache said. “The Washington Post headline was just clickbait.”

The way Broache describes the goals of the organization, Rubio’s ejection was counterproductive. The point of the protests, Broache said, is to visibly demonstrate the group’s views. With Rubio’s lack of central location, that became much more difficult.

“We hope that the senator is able to find new office space soon,” Broache said.

The Indivisible movement is often reported in mainstream media as being the left’s equivalent to the far right tea party, which sprung up after Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Like the article by Politico published Feb. 10, talks about conservative’s accusations that “liberal mega-donors [are] bankrolling” the movement.

Casey Bauer, a junior majoring in government and world affairs and interim vice president of the College Democrats, thinks these accusations are unwarranted.

“The group’s goal is to keep congress in check,” Bauer said. “It’s being called the extreme left, but they’re not demanding anything. They’re keeping congress accountable.”

Further evidence against Indivisible’s Tampa chapter being on the extreme left lies in its founder. Broache was registered as a Republican in his native Baltimore, Maryland, and would consider voting for a Republican again if he believed their views were “moderate and pragmatic.”

“In fact,” Broache said, “I always like to tell people that the first political donation I ever made was to Marco Rubio.”

The Indivisible movement is somewhat counterfactual, Broache said. Though it’s impossible to know what would happen if Donald Trump had not won the election, it’s very possible the Indivisible Guide would never have been published and the movement wouldn’t have been created.

This, Broache said, is in large part because people were so shocked by Trump’s win, even though he doesn’t think they should have been.

“If you were a critical consumer of the polls, you would not have been as confident as was portrayed [in the media],” Broache said. “It showed Clinton with a 70 percent chance of winning,”

That means that 3 out of every 10 simulations run for the polls, Trump won, Broache said.

“That’s the equivalent of a .300 hitter. They’re going to come up to the plate and get a hit 3 out of 10 times… and so I don’t think it should have been as unexpected as it was,” Broache said.

Whatever the odds, Trump did win the presidency and was sworn in on Jan. 20 as the United States’ 45th president, albeit not without a hefty dose of controversy.

With ongoing investigations into Russia’s involvement in the election, including possible collusion from members of Trump’s team, and Hillary Clinton receiving a plurality of votes, many people are arguing that Trump’s win is illegitimate.

According to a March 2017 survey, the number of people holding this view is greatest among young adults, with 57 percent of that group saying they viewed Trump’s presidency as illegitimate.

Not all young democrats agree, though.

“I’ll say this right now, and I’ll say it over and over,” Casey Bauer said. “Trump is my president. He won the election. He isn’t illegitimate.”

The bigger issue, he said, is that it’s difficult to work with Trump because he’s so unpredictable.

“He works with people, and then he attacks them,” Bauer said. “We really have no incentive to work with him. One minute he likes you, and the next he hates you. Why would you put yourself at risk?”

Although the ultra-conservative Tea Party is often seen as provoking further political polarization, having a liberal counterpart may do more to bring the country back to the middle.

This is according to Bill Myers, assistant professor of political science.

Myers said that if there are two people with polar opposite opinions on an issue, and they have to come to a decision. If the person on the left is willing to compromise, but the person on the right isn’t, the issue will undoubtedly be settled somewhere more to the right. Then, if the issue comes up again and nothing else has changed, the decision will continue to be pushed further and further right.

“I think there’s been an effort by people on the left to come to these compromise positions, and it hasn’t really gotten them anywhere,” Myers said. “They’re starting to realize that compromise doesn’t work.”

Nate Gardner can be reached at nathan.gardner@spartans.ut.edu.

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