Senator Bob Graham talks about civil engagement, U.S. democracy
South Bureau Chief
Senator Daniel Robert “Bob” Graham visited BC South Campus to educate students on the importance of civic engagement on Feb. 22.
As an impressionable public figure who has served Florida at local, state and national levels for over 40 years, Graham had a lot of knowledge and wisdom to offer to the civics conversation.
Graham grew up in the country, living on a farm in the Everglades raising livestock and mowing lawns alongside his politically influential father, Ernest “Cap” Graham, who served as a Florida Senator.
From a young age, he was a distinguished individual receiving recognitions such as Dade County’s “Best All-Around Boy” from the Miami Herald and was even president of Miami High’s student body during his high school career.
Graham attended the University of Florida to pursue his degree in political science and continued to be involved on campus joining several clubs and organizations.
Graham continued to acquire many more achievements as he was inducted into UF Hall of Fame and held membership in the Florida Blue Key. He then went to pursue a law degree at Harvard Law School and upon graduation, returned to the city of Miami Lakes where he won a seat in the Senate.
Graham began the conversation with a moment of silence for the victims of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.
Before this address, Graham spoke of the United States and its strong elements of democracy. Graham reminded the audience that people worked relentlessly over the years to reform, improve and establish this democracy and that it is now the responsibility of the people living in these times to maintain the rights and privileges that come with it.
As an example of citizens exercising this responsibility, he spoke of a summit the previous week at UF that consisted of hundreds of students who were given the opportunity to present proposals on issues to the legislature.
“As a member of the Political Science club, I try to identify and address issues important to students on campus,” said Sebastien Borgella, a BC psychology major.
Graham continued the conversation bringing up how elements seem to be on the decrease up to international levels. The citizens of the United States are beginning to lose faith in the government which explains the decrease in civic engagement such as the lack of voting in various communities.
He also touched on the importance of change and how the current generation must try to make a positive impact in the pursuit of their careers to work towards preserving democracy. When asked, “what do you say to those who do not believe in a system that won’t change?” Graham responded, “Change is a requirement which means that you have got to be sensitive to the world in which you live in and then realize it’s changing.”
He engendered a powerful statement regarding the true nature of politics which opened a new window in the minds of everybody listening.
“Politics is never perfect. There are no victories that have then become absolute. It’s a constant process of issue, challenge, resolution,” said Graham.
Political Science Club member and criminal justice major, Jalen Berube, said “interacting with your community with the intention to create positive outcomes,” was his definition of civic engagement.
Berube plans to graduate from BC this fall and has been inspired by Graham’s words to get his voice heard and potentially make a change in the career he decides to pursue.
When it comes to being successful in civic participation, Graham provided everyone with three significant tips: be passionate about your subjects, have persistence and possess the skills needed to thrive in your pursuits.
Using these tips, he has never lost an election. In his book “America: The Owner’s Manual” published in 2016, he continues to emphasize the effectiveness of these tips using real-life case studies.
Graham continues to provide service necessary to achieve political excellence within Florida, the United States, and other countries abroad, and instill strength in the people to stand up for what they believe in.
Photo courtesy: Broward College