As an average Cornellian hoping to decide who to vote for in the November midterm elections — you do not need to subject yourself to a one-sided, 30-minute rant from your government major friends anymore.
On Monday evening, two student leaders each from the Cornell Democrats and Cornell Republicans will argue a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues in a debate moderated by the Cornell Speech and Debate Society to offer a balanced perspective of the midterm elections.
Denny Lee ’20, vice president of the speech and debate society, will be moderating the debate. While he will be timing the speeches and maintaining order during the debate, he will leave the issues to be discussed at the debate at the discretion of the debaters.
“[The topics will] be issues sensitive to the midterm elections,” Lee said. “I’d expect big issues like the economy and foreign relations to be discussed, but that’s not for certain [nor] is it limited to those.”
Michael Johns ’20, Cornell Republicans president and one of the debaters, said he will emphasize policy areas that he believes saw an improvement under President Trump’s tenure — namely, national security and economics.
“After the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the United States has experienced a revival in economic growth and has outperformed even generous estimates in important metrics such as job growth,” Johns said. “We’ll be emphasizing this achievement and the importance of pro-growth economic policy throughout the country.”
Meanwhile, Isabelle De Brabanter ’19, Cornell Democrats president and one of the debaters, said that she hopes to talk about “economy, domestic issues, immigration, perhaps some foreign policy.” She added that she intends to focus on the merits of the Democratic party rather than criticize the negatives of the opposing party during the debate.
“I assume we will be focusing on the future rather than the past,” De Brabanter said, referring to measures taken by incumbent presidential administration. “Of course Trump is going to be part of that [conversation] and he’s important, but we will focus on the positive parts of being part of the Democratic party.”
Lee said that he will not declare a winner to the one-hour debate, instead opting to let audience members decide which side made the more convincing argument for themselves.
“We won’t be declaring a winner by audience vote. We think that it’s less important to declare a “winner” of the debate than it is for a productive discussion to happen,” Lee said. “Each person who attends the debate will have their own thoughts on what happened, which is why we’ll have selected audience questions for the participants to engage with at the end.”
In the spirit of empowering the audience members, the debate will also set aside time for a Q&A, where debaters will answer select questions from the audience members submitted via an online form. The form will be available on the event’s Facebook page 15 minutes before the debate starts.
This is not the first time CSDS hosted a Democrats and Republicans debate: leaders of the two party organizations clashed in 2017 over key issues including government intervention and taxation, The Sun previously reported.