Debate between political orgs held before primary

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By Maddy Scheel

April 6, 2016

The Young Americans for Liberty, College Democrats and the College Republicans gathered on March 30 in Timmerman Auditorium for the second Whitewater political debate.

The debate consisted of three topics: gun control, conflict in the Middle East and wealth and inequality.

The event was hosted by the Whitewater Philosophy Club.

The three groups were represented by two members of their respective organization as students and community members gathered to hear their arguments and stances on these three issues.

These hot-button issues are being debated and discussed nationwide at a time when the country is in the process of deciding which political candidate they want to represent whatever party they identify with.

 

Gun Control

The first question asked was what are the opinions of the groups on the current state of gun control in the United States, and how much should be changed, if anything at all?

The first group to answer this question was the College Republicans.

“We as Republicans fervently support the right of individuals as citizens to keep and bear arms,” sophomore Allison Strauel, executive director of College Republicans, said. “Fundamentally we think that people have the right to defend not only themselves, but their families.”

Junior Lauren Foegen, vice president of College Republicans, ended the answer by saying some gun control measures like background checks and gun safety course completions should be necessary.

The question then went to the Young Americans for Liberty. The group is cautious about further restrictions on what they see as already tight restrictions.

“The question that you should ask, instead of why do I need it, is why can’t I have it?” sophomore Andrew Freese, president of the organization, said.

The last group to answer the question was the College Democrats.

“We believe that the right to own firearms is open to reasonable regulation,” senior Matthew Heitmann said.

Those regulations include preventing criminals and those deemed mentally unfit from obtaining weapons.

“One of the main focuses is on closing the gun show loophole,” said Michael O’Connell, financial officer for the College Democrats.

The gun show loophole refers to how federally licensed gun sellers are required to run background checks, but not all gun sellers are required to be licensed, allowing them to sell guns without running background checks.

Middle East conflicts

The second topic discussed was conflict in the Middle East.

The question was focused on ISIS, and what should be done, if anything, about the terror group.

Young Americans for Liberty answered first, with junior Zachariah Marks, vice president of the group, calling ISIS a “blowback” for the United State – an unintended consequence of attacks in the Middle East in the 2000s.

Marks and Freese said the drone war led by the United States on ISIS is a waste of money, and the U.S. is creating a hostile environment for ISIS to rise.

The College Democrats defended the Obama-led drone strike coalition, saying that the U.S. needs to invest more into information gathering in regards to the strikes.

The Young Americans for Liberty ended their statement by saying ISIS is not as big of a threat as it is perceived to be.

College Democrats stated the United States needs to end their dependence on Middle East oil.

College Republicans were the last to answer, stating Republicans want armed forces on the ground, as well as support for the Kurdish troops. The Young Americans for Liberty did not agree with this, stating Iraq is no better from U.S. presence there.

College Republicans also stated that Democrats are not taking the threat of ISIS as seriously as they should, to which the College Democrats responded that the coalitions are proof Democrats take the threat seriously.

College Democrats brought up global warming as a problem within terrorism with  saying the future of foreign policy will include solutions for climate change.

Young Americans for Liberty agreed with that statement, stating that the U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world.

Income inequality

All three groups agreed that inequality does exist, but each took a different approach to the solution.

Heitmann from the College Democrats reiterated the problem with income inquality, saying, “lots needs to be done.”

The group expressed their disagreement with the “pull yourself up” sentiment, stating the background people come from must be considered in the degree of success they can realistically achieve.

A heated discourse rose when the College Democrats brought up their support for the Pay-Check Fairness Act.

The act amends a portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act known as the Equal Pay Act. It accounts for action against inhibiting sex discrimination in wages.

The College Republicans disagree with this act.

The three groups also found themselves disagreeing on the way the country should handle taxes.

The College Republicans proposed that creating a flat tax would be the best way to revise the tax code.

“By relieving the tax burden and making taxes more transparent and flat for all to understand and be accounted for, and the idea of using taxes to redistribute the wealth in the United States will leave this country into more economic danger, and strike down personal freedoms,” Foegen said.

The Young Americans for Liberty said no one should have to pay income tax, adding that the government bailing out the big banks back in 2008 continues to be a huge problem for the distribution of wealth in the United States.

The College Democrats agreed that the tax code needs to change, stating that the United States government needs to stop giving tax breaks to CEOs.