October 23, 2000
Political Groups Engage in Debate
| October 23, 2000
About 65 people attended a debate among the Democratic, Republican, Green and Natural Law parties and the Cobbler newspaper (a Socialist organization) last night at the David Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall.
The debate began with some of the usual political topics that have surfaced this campaign season, but the focus eventually turned to the need for greater political inclusion.
The debate was moderated by Jared Bell grad, of the Africana Students Association, along with Damoun Delaviz ’03, of the United Progressives.
Speaking on the topic of inclusion, Green Party representative and Senate candidate Mark Dunau, encouraged students to vote for whom they wanted to, regardless of whether the candidate is a member of the two major parties. “If we can’t vote with our hearts, then there is no democracy,” Dunau said.
He added, “The media are telling us that it’s a poker game where we have to guess what everyone else is doing.” He went on to explain how this will lead people to vote for one of the two major parties because they are all the voter really knows.
Republican representative Joe Sabia added to that by telling students, “We’re too young to abandon our ideologies.” He spoke negatively about strategic voting, and that voters should not select one candidate simply because they think he has the best chance, but instead to vote for the candidate with whom they agree most.
New York State Assemblyman Marty Luster (D-125th), representing the Democrats, felt differently.
“If you don’t vote for one of the two major parties, you are throwing your vote away.” He called on students to consider the consequences of their votes and the possible effect, presenting the possibility that voting for Nader over Gore could result in Bush becoming president, which would likely be less favorable to that voter.
Other debate questions ranged from privatization of prisons and welfare systems to foreign policy and human rights.
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October 24, 2000
On weekends, when many students attend parties or cram for prelims, the 75 members of the Forensic Society travel hours to universities around the country, working to retain their prestigious status as the best debate and speech program in the nation. Members of the society compete for the debate or speech teams, which ranked fourth and tenth in the country last year. The teams compete in 14 to 20 tournaments each year, and individual students participate in three to five a semester. The two-person debate groups compete in policy debates, where they argue the year’s topic. This year, the issue of debate is whether or not the United States should provide government aid to the Greater Horn of Africa. Preparation for the debates “requires a tremendous amount of research,” explained Prof. Pamela Stepp, communication, the society’s director since 1980. “Students have to be prepared to debate both sides. [They] don’t know much about Africa and the issue is very controversial.” “The amount of research is equivalent to several Ph.D. dissertations per year,” explained Maurice Ducoing ’03. The debate team reigned victorious at a tournament at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point earlier this month, where Lara Douglas ’03 and Paul Wenzel ’03 placed first in the varsity competition, winning a mounted saber which goes home with the victors each year. The team has won the award more than any other school in history, although this was the first time Cornell gained possession of the sword since 1995. “[The award] is significant within the debate community because it represents a really important tournament which requires not just one strong partnership, but also great coaching and a lot of back-up teams to do well at,” Douglas said. The speech team has also performed well this semester. At Bloomsburg University a few weeks ago, Kevin Sheldon ’02 placed first in the impromptu event and second in the dramatic duo event with Jessica Saunders ’03. Jonathan Pollard ’03 placed first in the poetry competition. Based on their recent accomplishments, the society is optimistic about maintaining its championship status. “I think we have an even stronger team than last year,” Ducoing said. “Everyone is coalescing successfully.” “[The team is] really strong and very enthusiastic,” Stepp said. “The talent is there, they’re really smart. They have the ability to do what my students have done in the past.” The Forensics Society differs from other debate teams on campus because it is cocurricular rather than extracurricular — student earn two credits for participation. “[Debate] is so draining but so amazing,” Anna Singh ’01 said, explaining that the intellectual stimulation of debate is far more satisfying than the physical rush associated with sports. “There are so many people I would not have known if not for debate,” Singh added. “There is such a blend of cultures, religions and backgrounds. You wouldn’t find that in any other organization in the University.” Experience in debate and speech may aid students when it comes time to get jobs, according to Stepp. “When students are out interviewing, interviewers will go right to Forensics and ask about their experience with it because it’s so valuable,” she said. Society alumni have gone on to work as trial attorneys for the Justice Department, clerks for the Supreme Court and to work independently as business owners. The Forensic Society will hold its annual 1894 tournament on Nov 5. This policy debate is open to all Cornell students. Two-person teams need to register in advance and bring a volunteer judge who meets the educational requirements of having obtained a bachelor’s degree. Monetary prizes are awarded. The society welcomes newcomers to its weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 4:35 p.m. in 213 Kennedy Hall. No experience is necessary.Archived article by Stephanie Hankin
October 24, 2000
“Muckraker,” “Consumer Crusader” and “Legal Agitator,” are all words that have been used to describe the man who rose from being an automobile safety critic to consumer advocate and most recently to the Green Party’s presidential hopeful. Although he remains low on opinion polls, Ralph Nader’s political stances and his candidacy have generated much debate and public scrutiny. Much attention has been paid to the fact that he is a third party candidate in a two-party dominated system. “I am a big supporter of Nader and a big critic of the two-party system,” said Prof. Theodore J. Lowi, government. “A vote for Nader is a vote criticizing the two-party system.” According to Paul Glover, the contact for Ithaca’s Green Party, Nader is running to revive democracy. Glover says that more than half of the eligible voters did not cast their ballots in the 1996 elections because “people want real choices, not robot candidates who are owned by corporations.” Antonella Romano, grad, of the Cornell Greens believes that Nader and the Green Party offer the voters a real alternative. “If the Democrats and Republicans continue to merge into one corporate party, people are going to be starving for an alternative, and the Green Party will be there,” she said. “The general feeling, I think, is that we will either force the two major parties to reform or replace them completely. So even if we don’t rise to control the government as the Green Party, our positions and issues will most certainly become part of the mainstream political discourse.” Others agree that a considerable amount of Nader’s support stems from discontent with Al Gore and the Democrats. “The majority of Nader’s support comes from the disgust that many ordinarily democratic voters have with Al Gore. The rest of Nader’s support comes from his genuine environmentally-paranoid followers,” said Michael D. Schmidt ’04, Cornell’s second vice chair of the College Republicans. The Green Party’s issues have also been highly discussed this election. Nader’s main issues are ecology, social justice, grassroots power, nonviolence, challenging abuses of power by government and corporations and campaign finance reform, Glover said. Although some voters feel these issues are very important, others are questioning the strength of his platform. Since he still remains low on opinion polls, people are beginning to doubt his future impact. “So far he has not shown strength generally, he does not have enough total support,” said Prof. Joel Silbey, history. “His issues, which are very important to some, are not important enough to other people.” Not only has the strength of his platform been in contention this election, some also contend that the number of issues he brings to the forefront also poses a problem to his political potency. “When looking at presidential candidates, I look for a candidate who has proven themselves on numerous issues. Ralph Nader is a two or three issue candidate. Nader only takes a strong stance on issues such as consumer rights, the environment and trade,” said Jeff Ehrenberg ’03, University Assembly representative. “However, a president needs to be a person who takes a clear stance on numerous issues and has proven how they will act in a broad array of areas.” Even voters who do agree with Nader’s platform have criticized him for being too extreme on these issues, thus making him potentially ineffective if elected to office. “While I am personally liberal, and agree with him on much, his platform is geared more at pushing his own agenda, not at helping the American people,” said Mike Moschella ’02, Cornell Democrats president. “Al Gore’s platform takes smaller, yet still crucial steps to solve the same problems. The true difference is that if Nader was in office nothing would get passed, and Al Gore has the ability to [push through] his proposals.” Another problem that Nader faces in relation to these issues is the alienation of a large portion of the population, specifically those more towards the center of the political spectrum because he is so left. “[The Green Party’s] big happy idealistic portrait of the future presupposes a base of progressive voters that are just out there waiting to be activated. The Green Party, despite its rhetoric, is completely out of touch with America,” said Josh Glastetter ’01, 4th Ward Representative, a democrat who ran on the Green Party ticket. Glover disagrees asserting that Nader is actually centrist. “He directly addresses the central concerns of average Americans: clean food, clean water, clean air, livable wages, job security, safe working conditions, good health care, honest government,” he said. “The Democrats and Republicans are dangerous extremists, indulging extremes of greed and corruption on behalf of corporations.” Although many people do not see Nader as a strong candidate, some think it is quite possible that supporting Ralph Nader could be particularly important in influencing the final campaign results. “In some areas, there is a possibility of Nader causing a state to go to Bush that would have gone to Gore. This would be interesting, because if it happens just once, that could be the balance in the election, and from a policy perspective, Nader would have reversed his desired course,” Moschella said. Others do not see Nader as having much influence in affecting the election result. “The contest between the two major candidates is so close that it doesn’t matter. Nader is just an extension of the stalemate. People are just trying to scare him off,” Lowi said. Glover agrees that Nader will not upset the outcome of the election in terms of which candidate wins. Glover believes that Nader will be successful if he receives five percent of the popular vote because “this gives us easy ballot access in every state for thousands of Green candidates, who will raise issues of ecology and social justices. We also get $12 million of federal campaign money, with which to make these voices loud,” Glover said.Archived article by Katherine Klein