Debates

This past Tuesday, the University celebrated the First Amendment. As a freshman, I was pleasantly surprised that the University would dedicate a day to the First Amendment. I did not expect it, because, quite honestly, the First Amendment allows for the free exchange of ideas between those who disagree, and I have not seen much dialogue between the two major political ideologies. Nor have I seen much of an attempt to start one.
In fact, the most interaction I have seen between conservative groups and liberal ones was during the feud over funding for Ann Coulter’s speech (which I will likely address in next week’s post depending on developments in the coming days). The impression that all this has left on me, and likely the majority of my classmates, is that there is plenty of enmity and confrontation, but little dialogue between the two sides. The undecided students, whom we should be recruiting and reaching out to, are largely pre-programmed, by a University culture dominated by Progressives and by a college media culture dominated by Jon Stewart, to side with the Young Democrats. If we want them to side with the Conservative and Libertarian Movements, we must jux-ta-pose ourselves with the Young Democrats more than we currently do. I hear all too often that students are not huge fans of Democrats, but that they do not see the Republicans or Libertarians as better options because of their portrayal by a largely liberal campus. I see an increase in public debates as a great way to have the juxtaposition that we need between ourselves and the Young Democrats and to have the juxtaposition between ourselves and our portrayal in Progressive and liberal spheres.
College is a time when many students are forming their political opinions. There needs to be much more public interaction between all political groups, so that the large group of undecided voters on our campus can have an accurate portrait of what the Young Conservative and Libertarian Movements are about, not just the liberal caricature of them. They need to see Young Conservatives and Young Libertarians challenge the ideas that all students are naturally exposed to by the Young Democrats and a generally Progressive campus atmosphere. If they never see us challenge Progressive dogma, why would they question it?
To be fair, there is a debate between the College Republicans and Young Democrats coming up on October 10. However, the Libertarians will not be participating, and one debate per semester is woefully inadequate, especially in an election season, in my opinion. As a freshman, many of my classmates have not had the same political exposure as I have had, or as most CR Daily readers have had. They need to be able to go and see what each side has to offer. I am confident enough in human reason to believe that if the sizeable group of undecided students is given both arguments, at least a decent number of them will be convinced that individual liberty and economic conservatism are the best systems around. I do not have delusions of all Young Democrats switching to the cause of liberty because of these debates, but those who are undecided may be convinced. One debate per semester is not enough to do this, however.
College Republican Chairman, Greg Steele, told me that, “In the past, we have only done one debate between our groups [each] semester. I am not sure if other political groups have participated in debates in the past however, I would like to bring up the idea of expanding the forum perhaps for our next debate”. This is a good start, but in an election season, I believe that one debate per semester is not enough for Conservatives and Libertarians to convince people that their preconceived notions about the merits of Progressivism are wrong.
Young Democrat’s President, Nathan Westmoreland said, “We, of course, love to have the debates, but there is a lot of preparation that goes into them on the part of both the debaters and the organizers so two is probably the most I could foresee us doing (but of course that could always change!)”.
Both Party Leaders are at least somewhat open to some changes in the debate schedule, so I would urge them to work together to hold more debates on campus, even if they would only be smaller, single-issue debates. Westmoreland brought up the amount of effort these debates take for both the debaters and the organizers, so I believe the rational solution would be to have a series of single-issue debates in addition to the one large-scale debate each semester. These debates should be open to all political parties on the North Carolina ballot at the time of the debate. They could be as simple as a few members from each group standing in the Pit and debating whatever topic happens to be dominating the media at that time. This would give the students at Carolina a full view of their options in the 2012 election, as well as future elections, and I am confident in the ability of liberty and individual rights to win the day, and their votes.

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