U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., spoke to UNC-Chapel Hill students Monday about the state of the American political landscape and his work in Congress.
The UNC Young Democrats hosted the event in Gardner Hall. The organization’s president, senior Jacob Greenblatt, interned at Price’s Capitol Hill office this summer and invited the representative to speak at UNC.
Greenblatt said Price, a UNC graduate, is a product of Chapel Hill. After Price attended UNC as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, he was a political science professor at Duke University before running for Congress.
“He has a long history of fighting for civil rights here and protecting voters,” Greenblatt said. “He's a really strong progressive advocate and [the Young Democrats] think it’s really important that students are able to learn from him and hear about what’s going on in Washington.”
Price began his speech by urging students to participate in the upcoming municipal elections and then launched into a brief rundown of his career to provide context for his audience.
He spoke on a myriad of issues including recent events such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the mass shooting in Las Vegas — as well as more political issues such as President Donald Trump's stance on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, immigration, healthcare, environmental issues and the national budget.
Price was critical of the Trump administration’s response to the hurricane's destruction of Puerto Rico. He said Puerto Ricans shouldn't be viewed differently from other Americans because they're American citizens.
“I hope we’re back on track after the initial fear that the president was more worried about tweeting NFL players than he was about Puerto Rico,” he said.
Price said legislators should offer real solutions, not just thoughts and prayers, in the face of gun violence.
He also said Democrats often find themselves playing defense and damage control to prevent the erosion of things they fought for.
“I think probably we all share the wish to not just play defense but to get on a more offensive position where we're fighting for things we believe in and making headway in moving up opportunity to our fellow citizens, making sure that our communities are growing and developing good jobs and making sure that we're feeding innovation and entrepreneurship and the kinds of things that create jobs,” he said.
Throughout his speech, Price praised the UNC Young Democrats for their organization and activism. He said he wants to continue working with the group — especially in preparation for upcoming elections. He advised college groups to make connections with different groups of people, focusing on rural areas.
UNC junior Jordan Jenkins, secretary of the UNC Young Democrats, said she enjoyed Price’s speech.
“I thought the criticisms he made on both sides were really thoughtful and sound," she said. "Especially on things like gun violence and the devastation in Puerto Rico."
Jenkins said she hopes he's right that strides can be made in those arenas.
“I think he’s made it clear that the work is there and it needs to be done," Jenkins said. "But the future for Democrats is very bright."
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