Blue, red debate
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The presidential election, gun control, foreign policy, and race relations were all topics headlining the debate between the College Democrats and the Conservative Student Coalition yesterday in the Student Union Starbucks.
Attendees watched the event over free Starbucks coffee while David Cohen, a political science professor, moderated the debate and took questions submitted through Twitter and from the audience.
Hosted by the Zips Programming Network (ZPN), the event began at 12:30 p.m. and consisted of two hours of back and forth arguments on prominent political issues in the U.S. The debate was planned by Elle Bonnema, the fine arts, film and lecture chair of ZPN.
Students Bob Sommers, Taylor Bennington, and Young Jeong represented that Conservative Student Coalition, which is a non-partisan, soon-to-be registered student organization.
On the other side, the College Democrats representatives were students Nicholas Golina, Dominic Grossi, and Drew Burton.
Starting with gun violence and ending with drug legalization, the debate covered a wide range of political topics. Among the issues were welfare, taxes, the economy, college tuition, healthcare, the election, global warming, conflict in Syria, drones, the death penalty, and Supreme Court nominations.
The conservatives mentioned creating jobs by lowering corporate taxes and bringing companies back to the U.S, while the democratic students countered that lowering taxes would only reduce employment.
Following a question on the cost of college tuition, the conservative students claimed that the free tuition supported by the Democrats would lead to drastic increases in taxes and ultimately a decrease in the quality of education.
“The best solution to the problem of people who are struggling with student loans would be to lower interest rates,” said Golina. Another solution, he said, is creating “active labor policies,” which help graduates find jobs quickly and pay off their debt.
In reference to the presidential election, Cohen called the nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the most “controversial” candidates in U.S. history and asked the groups to name who they supported.
“We are at a very difficult time in presidential politics,” said one of the conservative panelists. “There are two candidates who are very unpopular on both sides of the ballot.”
While the College Democrats supported Clinton based on her progressive platform, the Conservative Student Coalition did not officially choose a candidate.
On global warming, the conservative students believe that climate change needs to be addressed, but they say that the private sector and not the government should oversee the process. The Democrats emphasized the government’s role in investing in clean energy and creating jobs.
On the topic of drone strikes in Syria, the Democrats said the government should lower the amount of civilian casualties and decrease defense spending overall, while the conservatives said troops should be used in place of drones.
When discussing Supreme Court nominations, both the conservatives and the Democrats agreed that congress should have a greater role in the decision.
“I thought they kind of avoided the questions on both sides,” said Alexa Pack, a freshman sociology major. “I liked how civil it was and overall they kept it classy.”
For those who wish to get involved, the College Democrats have meetings every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in room 335 in the Student Union. The organization also has many opportunities available to volunteer on campaigns. In addition, the Conservative Student Coalition will become a registered student organization next month and will begin having meetings soon.
ZPN is also hosting an Election Day Watch Party on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballrooms, where it will stream national news stations’ coverage of the results.