November 27, 2007

Cornell Democrats and Republicans Square Off

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Political apathy was certainly no issue among panelists who gathered last night to kick off Kappa Week with a debate on political perspectives and current issues in the United States. Held by Kappa Alpha Psi Inc. fraternity to open their week devoted to community-based events, the debate hosted representatives from the Cornell Democrats, College Republicans, Black Perspectives and The Sun.
The debate centered on the state of American politics, beginning with panelists discussing positive aspects of the Bush administration. Tim Krueger ’08, Randy Lariar ’08 and Ethan Felder ’09 represented the Democrats, Carol Glenn ’08 and Ahmed Salem ’08 stood for the College Republicans, Ayanni Hanna ’08 and Clifford Dawkins ’10 spoke for Black Perspectives; and Editor in Chief Jonny Lieberman ’08 represented The Sun. Salem began the debate for the Republicans by emphasizing the tax cuts and current economic boom, as well as the relative safety and peace that suggest a successful policy on the war on terror.
On the other hand, Lariar said the economy is projected to decline and the tax cuts benefit only the wealthy. “I think that the greatest tragedy was [after] the moment of global unity … We had the sympathy of people who burned our flag in effigy … And we took all that goodwill … and turned it into an almost universal hatred,” Lariar noted.
In his opinion, however, current administration’s policies served well to unify the Democratic Party.
Dawkins also felt that negative effects outweighed the positive and Lieberman, taking the perspective of the media, recognized the“real wave of activism from youth and other media outlets” in response to the Bush Administration policies.
Looking forward to the upcoming election, the Democrats, Lieberman and Black Perspectives agreed that three major issues include climate change, wealth inequality and America’s international standing. Dawkins, representing Black Perspectives focused the issues domestically.
“I feel that the issues with us abroad and with the war on Iraq and our international standing … have superceded … all the domestic issues we have been facing,” Dawkins said. These domestic problems, exemplified by Katrina and various racial issues, are “springing up” after lying like “a pile of crap in the backyard,” according to Dawkins.
Kreuger declared his support for Barak Obama (D-Ill.), which was echoed by Dawkins and Lieberman, on a personal level.
“We need the candidate who is the exact opposite of Bush … we just can’t let this happen again. We really can’t. We just can’t,” emphasized Felder.
Glenn, on behalf of the Republicans, raised her major concerns of global jihad, energy independence, health care, and education. She cast her support for Mitt Romney, whose campaign addresses all four issues.
The debate digressed into a discussion about voting in relation to the popular and media attention to minority candidates — Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Obama.
Glenn stressed that relying on popular media is not enough to choose a candidate, but that further examination through alternative sources such as podcasts and other news sources is essential.
As the debate shifted to issues of racism, discussion became heated. In regards to incidents such as D.P. Dough at Cornell and the Jena Six, Glenn, who herself is of black descent, repeatedly stressed the importance of examining all the facts before protesting.
“Quite honestly, I think people in black communities have more important things to worry about … In 2005 half of all the murder victims in the United States were black and 93 percent of the perpetrators were black. That is something that I would protest,” said Glenn, to the applause of the audience.
In response, Dawkins voiced his support for activism and “multitasking” in terms of support. “Apathy is just as bad as being a perpetrator,” Hanna said.