By Ed Harris
Students in an honors civics class at Southington High School recently had the opportunity to converse with Senator Chris Murphy. Using Skype, the students asked the senator a wide range of questions, including topics such as the Ukraine, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and whether or not golf is a sport.
“It is very exciting,” said teacher Deborah Kennedy.
Kennedy said this was the first time that the class had the opportunity to converse with such a high profile politician. In past years the class had written letters to the local Board of Education.
Kennedy said the class had been working on a writing exercise with the prompt of whether congress makes a difference. It was during this lesson that student Jared Fernandez wrote Senator Murphy and the Skype call materialized from there.
Jared questioned Murphy on the ACA and the situation in the Ukraine.
Murphy, who supports Obamacare, noted there were some website issues in the beginning, but said things have since been smoothed out.
“The reports now are positive,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he is worried that a crush of people would hit the website on or near March 31, the last day to sign up for and receive healthcare coverage this year. Murphy said he met with administration officials a week ago to help ensure there were no website issues, should this happen.
In relation to the issues in the Ukraine, Murphy noted he was particularly involved in the process from Washington. On the day he called the students, Murphy was a bit late because he was on the phone with German colleagues, discussing the situation.
Murphy is on the Foreign Relations Committee and was in the Ukraine last year.
The senator said he did not foresee a military solution and touted economic sanctions as an alternative.
“We can change Putin’s mind on this if we show there are consequences,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he did not believe Putin’s rationale that Russian citizens in the Ukraine were in danger due to the political turmoil in the country. Instead, Murphy said he felt that Putin was making a play for Crimea, which was gifted to the Ukraine in the 1950s.
“I think he wants Crimea back,” Murphy said.
In the short 20 minute discussion with the class, Murphy also briefly discussed mental health and the second amendment and the possibility of making voting mandatory.