Opposing parties face off at politics forum

Democrats, libertarians, republicans and socialists engaged in the first debate between all four of these political organizations. The debaters discussed foreign affairs, domestic policy and social issues.

The debate’s first segment gave each group an introductory opening statement. The libertarians, represented by Chris Geddis, freshman philosophy major, and Sam Taylor, freshman economics major, emphasized man’s natural rights as the source of justice and government’s role to uphold these rights.

The socialists, represented by Kathy Loglisci, junior secondary education/English major, and Anthony Milici, senior English major, stated their commitment to the redistribution of resources to counteract the economic injustices. “You don’t have to go very far down Pennington Road to see the ravages of capitalism,” Loglisci said.

The democrats, represented by Matt Civiletti, junior engineering major, and Scott Blair, sophomore history major, promoted ideals of a responsible military, a well-funded education and a universal healthcare system. Democrats are the party of the middle class, Civiletti said.

The republicans, represented by Shaina Basile, freshman political science major, and Jasen Sood, freshman biology major, affirmed individual and state rights and limited government. According to Sood, the issues facing America cannot be solved by making government bigger.

National security and the war in Iraq were hot issues in the debate. Republicans contended the invasion of Iraq and its democratization promoted security. “The war in Iraq will make us safer,” Sood said. He noted the high voter turnout in elections as evidence of progress since Saddam Hussein’s removal.

Democrats countered by arguing the war was a misstep by the Bush administration. Civiletti explained that while promoting democracy is good, the War in Iraq will not solve anything. “The Iraq War is a great diversion from the war on terror,” he said.

The socialists stated their aversion to the war, which, according to Milici, is undemocratic and economically motivated by the free market system. The public forgets the large Iraqi death toll, he said. “We should leave immediately; we should leave unconditionally.”

Libertarians agreed with socialists on military withdrawal but added different reasoning. According to Geddis, the presence of the U.S. military interferes with a sovereign nation’s official government. It stays because it pushes its agenda and ideals upon the Iraqi government.

Neither democrats nor republicans proposed a total or immediate troop withdrawal. Democrats emphasized setting goals and a timeline for troop removal. It is reasonable to have 70,000 soldiers out by the end of 2006 and leave behind a smaller, stabilizing force, Civiletti said.

Republicans committed to an American presence in Iraq. “We will leave Iraq when we win, when this is done,” Sood said.

Debaters argued how the war on terrorism affects domestic policy. Libertarians, democrats and socialists condemned the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, while Republicans defended it as necessary for national security. According to Taylor, breaking civil liberties to protect civil liberties does not make sense.

Blair said Bush’s warrantless wiretaps are “absurd” when he could have gone through the courts.

Milici agreed, pointing out that wiretaps will not stop terrorism and are not the problem; the problem is capitalism. The wiretaps target anti-war activists, pacifists and even vegetarians, he said.

Republicans refuted civil liberties violations, and Sood claimed that the wiretapping has been blown out of proportion. “If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?” he asked.

The debate engaged the audience during a question-and-answer session that resulted in vigorous discussion. Moderator Howard Wegener, sophomore political science major, even asked one audience member to leave because he had been continuously interrupting.

A “Crossfire” segment allowed the debaters to question one another.

Each party summarized its principles with a closing statement. Libertarians called for minimal government intervention in people’s lives. “You are the best person to decide what is best for you,” Taylor said.

Socialists advocated fundamental change to economic structure. “We will settle for nothing less than a reinvention of the system,” Milici said. An unequal system creates an unequal society, he added.

According to Civiletti, Democrats support a government of common sense but not big government. He said that the party will help the average person achieve the American dream.

Sood said that Republicans stand for a fiscally conservative and responsible government. He believes that reducing entitlement programs and welfare will reduce poverty.

According to Wegener, the purpose of the debate was to involve students and provide a forum for political exchange. The College ranks among the 20 least politically active campuses in The Princeton Review’s “The Best 361 Colleges.” The debate is a step toward recognizing political activity and countering apathy at the College, Wegener said.