Mines’ Democrats and Republicans debate

In last weeks’ Econ Club debate, the Young Democrats and CSM College Republicans exchanged their ideas and stances regarding hot topic issues, such as foreign and domestic policy, education, and employment rates. At the end of the night, a clear victor emerged.

The debate took place in Hill Hall, and was well organized by event coordinator, Lisa Martinez-Templeton. A unique feature of the debate allowed those in attendance to participate in various polls throughout the event via iClickers. Debate moderators Nick Van Gundy and Tasha Comstock managed the questions throughout the night.

The Democrats won the initial coin-toss, so they delivered the opening statements in the session. John Bristow and Matt Bailey represented the Young Democrats, while Zachary Reinbold and Carl Healy spoke on behalf of the College Republicans. Although the two groups embodied the two party’s different viewpoints, they were able to agree on some topics.

Bristow began by alluding to the Constitution and reiterating the importance of “Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.” Alternatively, Reinbold did not wait to get into the debate as he stated, “Obama is hostile to the oil and mining industry,” which hit home with the petroleum majors in attendance. Reinbold added, “Romney is a business man, who will be able to manage the private sector.”

Unemployment was addressed next, and Healy engaged the audience as he reminded the students about how scary career day is, and with 23 million out of work, Healy stressed the “importance of stopping the unnecessary spending in Washington.”

As the debate progressed, topics reached China and the two groups compared their views for a plan of action for the country’s fabricated exchange rate reports. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that a trade war is undesirable, because at the moment China exports 97% of the world’s rare earth metals. Bristow criticized Romney when he called China “cheaters,” as this “could threaten trade with China.” He also pointed out that “China is more impressive from afar. Internally, they are suffering just like the US, and they will eventually change on their own.”

Domestic policies were addressed subsequently, as Reinbold critiqued high taxes, saying, “low taxes are incentive for Americans to keep what they worked for.” Later, Bailey called out Romney for being ranked forty-seventh in job creation while Governor in Massachusetts. Healy was quick to note that that ranking was at the beginning of his term, and “at the end of his term he was ranked 28th.” Bristow then presented a solution to the hurting economy, “spend now and pay off later.” Reinbold had a problem with this idea, as he stated, “people will begin to sit on their money as they prepare to be taxed heavily in the future.”

As the moderators brought up the topic of Obamacare, the Republicans were first to express their opinions. Healy said the government healthcare is “smothering small businesses by forcing them to buy it, while punishing those who don’t.” Bristow defended Obamacare, saying, “it is not a money sink. The money is being used to make the country better.” He asked, “If not for improved infrastructure, where would we work?” Democrats did address that there were some holes in the Obamacare system, but “the free market is not good for health care.”

Energy, an issue that directly applies to many majors here at Mines, came up next. Healy noted “wind is two-times more expensive than oil to produce, and solar is five times as expensive.” The Democrats did not see this as an excuse to ignore investment and the pursuit of advancing these technologies, especially in an event of oil becoming inaccessible. Reinbold pointed out that there are many reserves available on federal land, but “Obama voted down operations on this land to gain votes.” Democrats and Republicans agreed once more when Bristow said, “Government run oil companies are a bad idea.”

After discussing energy, the debate focussed on education. Reinbold pointed the blame at teacher’s unions, saying, “the teachers receive bonuses based on longevity and tenure, not merit.” Bristow was same page, but instead he said, “Don’t remove unions, rather, spread the knowledge of the importance of getting a STEM degree if students desire results.” Bailey provided another option for fixing the economic situation, “Increase the workday to 16 hours. Productivity would increase and we would be out of the recession.” Healy then addressed the importance of responsible spending in school systems. “Money does not make a school better. There needs to be a focus on academics, not sports stadiums and Subways inside high schools,” he said.

Both groups held two different ideas on taxes. Republicans favored a flat tax rate, while Democrats believe in a progressive tax that would increase with increased incomes. “Flat taxes can cut into necessities for lower income families,” said Bristow. The Republicans said the government “should not tell someone how much they can earn.”

Climate change and carbon taxes were among the next topics presented. The Republican side disagreed with carbon taxes, and believed human intervention was causing minimal effects in climate change. Bristow said, “If we are affecting the climate, taking no action is dangerous.” Both Bristow and Bailey favored carbon taxes, as they “present incentive for companies to be more efficient.”

After an extensive debate that covered a wide spectrum of topics, strong closing statements were issued. Republican Reinbold accused Obama of “being self-interested, only looking to be re-elected. Romney is a president that will help the people, as he has already donated thousands of hours in community service and millions of dollars for charity.” Healy, although Republican, conveyed a different message. He encouraged students to “research the candidates on their own, and make their own educated decision.”

Democrat Bristow concluded the night by asking an important question, “What does it mean to be an American?” He then quoted President Kennedy, saying “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

The clear winners of the debate were those in attendance. Being able to observe an intense clashing of ideas spanning from foreign to domestic policy enlightened students about various viewpoints. If a victor had to be decided between the two parties, the Republicans generally had more constructed, applicable responses. The Republicans Reinbold and Healy also received 65% of the iClicker voting for best performance at the end of the night.

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