College Democrats, Republicans face off

Carissa Alaimo

The College Democrats and the College Republicans went head to head on Oct. 1 and faced off in their first debate of the year.

They debated three pressing issues in the upcoming presidential election: energy, foreign policy and the economy.

The opening statements from both sides set the tone for how each side would argue for the rest of the debate.

Kevin Bloomfield, a sophomore economics and accounting major began the debate for the College Republicans by establishing the Republican political platform and endorsing Sen. John McCain’s campaign for presidency.

Charles Myers, a junior political science, philosophy and history major, spoke for the College Democrats with opening remarks that emphasized the issues but did not make an endorsement for Barack Obama or mention either of the presidential candidates.

The issue of energy followed the opening statements. For the energy portion, Myers debated for the Democrats. He promoted lithium ion technology, solar power, wind power and a smart energy grid as methods to gain energy independence. He also spoke of America’s dependence on foreign oil as a major national security issue.

“America must strive and seek, not yield,” Myers said, summing up the need for America to seek new energy innovation.

Christy Rosati, a sophomore chemical engineering major, debated for the Republicans, promoting the use of offshore drilling, nuclear power and clean coal as sources that must be explored to free the country from foreign energy sources. Like the Democrats, she also agreed that the energy issue is important and affects the economy, environment and national security.

Next, Eric Maleczkowicz, a sophomore business major from the College Republicans, began the foreign policy debate, and Courtney O’Brien, a sophomore honors and political science major, followed with her argument for the Democrats.

Iraq, like in the recent presidential debates, was at the core of the foreign policy issue. Maleczkowicz specifically focused on the surge in Iraq and described it as a success. He used this point to make another plug for the McCain campaign and criticized Obama for refusing to admit that it has worked. O’Brien rebutted American presence in Iraq and stressed that while U.S. forces have concentrated on Iraq, the focus needs to return to Afghanistan because the Taliban is beginning to regain influence there. She also opposed the stop-loss policy that she referred to as a “back-door draft” that has been enacted due to the wavering recruitment numbers of the military.

College Democrats’ Tom Meehan, a junior finance major, and Bloomfield wrapped up the debate with the economy. Since the economy issue has been the most pressing lately, it was allotted six minutes, while the others were only debated for four minutes.Meehan’s argument was the first time that the Democrats attacked the Republican presidential nominee’s policy platform, as he debated against McCain’s plan to give tax cuts to corporations and claimed that would only send more American money and jobs overseas.

He also emphasized the importance of government regulation on Wall Street and blamed the recent economic crisis on Republican deregulation of the stock market.Bloomfield rebutted the Democrats and gave a counter claim that supported a corporate tax cut, saving America’s second-highest corporate taxes in the world are the reason for companies moving their businesses overseas.

He also proposed a solution to the Social Security and Medicare crises that have added to the recent economic disaster. He explained the Republican plan, which he said would divert the benefits into private or personal funds. When the debate ended, faculty moderator Peter Busch noted the professionalism with which the debate was conducted.

Members of each side said that winning was not the ultimate goal for participating in the debate. Rather, the most important purpose of the debate was to make issues known to the campus and create a forum for open, academic discussion that promotes political activism among students.

“The intimate setting of the debate allows interaction among the students and facilitates engagement without distractions,” said Stephanie Novelli, co-president of the College Republicans. “You can hear different ideas, which helps formulate or cement your own opinions. Having a chance to hear the issues important to you also helps deal with the political apathy on campus.”

“Even if we convinced a few people in the audience of the issues, I don’t care about the ultimate outcome of who won or lost,” Meehan said.

The College Republicans and College Democrats will hold a second debate during the spring semester.