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Credit: Jess Tan

Jeb Bush wants college students to start rising up.

"Are you going to be self-absorbed and focused on social media, or are you going to break out and change our culture and use the power that you have for good?" Bush said. "I'm pretty optimistic that there will be an awakening."

The former governor of Florida and Presidential Professor of Practice sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian in an interview Tuesday afternoon. 

Bush spoke to the DP moments after he took the stage at the Perry World House 2019 Global Shifts Colloquium on climate change. During the public event, the Republican political figure expressed support for bipartisan action on climate change, but said free markets and state governments were better suited to address the issue than the federal government.

In the interview with the DP, Bush spoke about the need for college students to take the lead on climate change reforms and advocated for bipartisan solutions. Bush also offered an on-the-spot compromise himself.

“As it relates to climate change, the compromise could be: invest more in long-term infrastructure and research,” Bush said, referring to federal government actions. “That’s a place where I think there’s broad consensus.”

Politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have also proposed carbon taxes as a solution to climate change. Bush signaled that he would be willing to entertain the idea if the funds were not used to expand federal programs.

Credit: Chase Sutton

“Ultimately, there could be a consensus for a tax on carbon so long as it wasn’t used to grow government,” he said, adding that the funds should support tax cuts for working families.

"I don’t know if the left would be all excited about a tax cut for people. But that would be the logical place," Bush said. "It’s raising the price of carbon to factor in the long-term costs related to the changing climate, and you’re dollar for dollar giving that back to people who are disproportionately impacted by higher energy costs."

Bush also expressed frustration for the current state of politics in Washington, D.C. during his public talk, claiming that “In D.C., even when they agree, they can’t agree.” Bush, however, told the DP that he remains optimistic that a consensus can be reached.

"Nothing is linear in life, and certainly our political history has never been linear," Bush said. "We’ve always been a dynamic country, and, historically, at the time when you least expect it, all of a sudden, a change in the paradigm happens."

Reflecting on his remarks during the public talk, Bush added that the current era is not as bleak as people often think. 

"The '60s and '70s, I can promise you, were far more perilous than what we’re going through now. In this mindset that we have right now that the end is near and everything is horrible, some things can be a catalyst for it to change," Bush said.

Directly addressing Penn students, Bush challenged younger generations to start taking the lead and developing solutions to major issues such as climate change, as they are the ones who will "create the new America."

"The dominant political and cultural force 10 years from now are going to be the combination of millennials and Gen Z,” Bush said. “And the question is: Are you up for it?”