The second annual Campus Democrats vs. College Republicans debate was waged in an overflowing Isla Vista Theatre 2 last night – spectators were even turned away after the event exceeded its maximum capacity of 145 persons.
Professors Robert Rauchhaus and Eric Smith mediated the event, which facilitated dialogue between the opposing parties. From the first question onward, the two-hour debate tackled topical issues such as the war in Iraq, universal health care and energy policies. Throughout the duration of the debate, neither side shied away from confronting the opposition on these controversial topics.
One of the first queries posed to the Republican delegation asked them to defend the current status of U.S. troops in Iraq and present a feasible troop withdrawal plan.
Third-year political science major Ross Nolan said the troop buildup in Iraq was an indisputably intelligent policy decision.
“Success of the surge is all but impossible to deny,” Nolan said.
The Campus Democrats staunchly opposed the above sentiments and said the troop surge in Iraq is unsustainable and a failed strategy. The disagreement progressed, as both sides discussed the way in which the United States and allied nations should pull out from Iraq.
Fourth-year political science major Mike Silva said the U.S. presence in Iraq is hurting the situation more than it is helping.
“Our presence there right now is creating a more fragmented political situation,” Silva said.
However, despite attacks leveled at their plan of action, the Republicans said a swift withdrawal of forces would create a situation with a high potential for loss of Iraqi life.
Following the discussion of the war, the debate shifted to domestic concerns, specifically health care. The Democrats supported a universal health care system.
Fourth-year political science major Patrick Donahue said universal health care will help those that need it most.
“The ones most needy of health care are those least likely to get it,” Donahue said.
The Republicans bluntly responded to the Democrats’ position by highlighting the potential economic pitfalls of socialized medicine. Third-year political science major Ryan McNicholas said the proposed health care plan is not an economically viable position.
“Socialism is never fiscally responsible,” McNicholas said.
At times, the mediating professors also interjected their own questions, occasionally lobbing hypothetical situations to the two contending sides.
Rauchhaus struck a moral chord in the room when he described an emergency room scene in which the child of an illegal immigrant suffering from a 102-degree fever is competing for medical attention with a drug-addicted U.S. citizen, who injured himself punching a window. Rauchhaus proceeded to ask if the child was in fact less worthy of care, based purely upon his status as an illegal immigrant.
At last, both sides did come to an agreement that anyone in the child’s position deserves immediate care, regardless of citizenship status.