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Jeb Bush gives talk at Amherst College

(Gage Skidmore/ Flickr)

(Gage Skidmore/ Flickr)

Former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush spoke to a sold-out crowd on a snowy Tuesday night at Amherst College on numerous topics ranging from child education to the Trump administration and immigration.

Bush began his talk by stating that the political system in the country places younger people at a disadvantage.

“Our political system doesn’t seem to be working,” said Bush, at the start of his speech. “For the first time people don’t think their children will have it better than they do.”

Bush spoke heavily on the advance of new technology in the United States and how it is putting thousands of Americans out of work.

“We’re on the verge of the greatest technological wave that has ever hit society,” said Bush, as he explained that companies like UPS and Amazon will be losing workers due to such advancements.

In one example, he explained how after speaking with a head executive at AMC theaters he learned that new soda dispenser machines caused 15 percent of the company’s jobs to be eliminated.

“I thought that it was important that he talked about technology and brought attention to the complexity of technology in reducing the number of available jobs,” said Maija Starr, an Amherst College freshman biology and music major.

Bush proceeded to discuss education in America, specifically how the United States needs to improve its child literacy rate.

“Kids should be able to read by the end of third grade. Period,” Bush said.

After discussing topics that were seemingly well received among the crowd inside Johnson Chapel, Bush moved into more controversial territory with his opinions on immigration.

According to Bush, the U.S. needs to adopt a more policy similar to Canada that allows in immigrants who will promote economic growth.

“What he said about picking immigrants based on their economic potential seemed like we are creating a meritocracy,” Starr said. “I think it’s more important to prioritize the wellbeing of our fellow human beings over potential economic growth.”

Starr’s sentiment was not held by all those in attendance. Matt Walsh, an Amherst College sophomore political science major, agreed with Bush.

“I really liked what he had to say on immigration, making it more job based than family based,” Walsh said.

Bush concluded his talk and opened a question and answer forum where he explained his attitude on the newly elected president.

“I have faith in the new administration,” said Bush, after claiming to not have voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. “I want to give the president the benefit of the doubt.”

Aside from briefly stating his distaste for the recent executive orders, Bush mostly stayed away from criticizing the president, only saying, “I think Melania should grab the phone and say, ‘no tweets after 9 o’clock.’”

Overall, Bush’s talk was well received by the crowd at Amherst College.

“He was actually really funny. He has a good sense of humor .I didn’t expect that from him; I thought he’d be super uptight,” said Hashma Shahid, an international student from Pakistan studying computer science and international relations at Mount Holyoke College. “His views are pretty liberal for a republican, which I was pretty surprised about.”

“I felt more sympathetic toward conservatives,” Starr added.

“I kind of expected the same old Jeb that we saw on the campaign trail but I think he made himself more of a person,” Walsh said.

Stefan Geller can be reached at stefangeller@umass.edu.

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