The JHU College Democrats and College Republicans competed Tuesday night in a debate hosted by The JHU Politik. The debate covered three topics: President Barack Obama’s budget vs. Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget, immigration and gun control.
The idea for the event was spurred by senior Randy Bell, a member of The JHU Politik and a former member of the JHU College Democrats.
“He brought the idea to Politik, and we felt it would fit well with our mission to be a place of political discourse on campus where people feel comfortable expressing their views,” senior Jeremy Orloff, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The JHU Politik, said.
The event was the first of its kind. Bell, along with the presidents of the JHU College Democrats and the College Republicans, determined rules, topics, debaters and moderators for the event.
Members of The JHU Politik, along with the JHU College Democrats and Republicans, were pleased with the event.
“There was a great turnout on both sides,” Orloff said. “We allowed for applause after some of the rebuttals, and both sides always received applause.”
Sophomore Jordan Carmon, a current member of the College Democrats and next year’s President, agreed that the debate was successful.
“I thought it was great,” Carmon said following the event. “I spoke with the Republicans afterwards, and it’s something we definitely plan on doing again next year.”
The debate was The JHU Politik’s penultimate event of the semester, rounding out a year of far more events from the publication than in recent years.
“This is part of our mission for the future,” Orloff said. “We’re aiming to be the center of political debate on campus, and creating a bigger presence on campus is crucial to that plan.”
Orloff sees the success of Tuesday’s debate as a sign that Hopkins will develop into an even more politically active campus in the future.
“There were freshmen involved on both sides, which is a great thing showing that Hopkins is going to be more political going forward and less apathetic,” Orloff said.
The debate was certainly impassioned and full of insightful and well-informed remarks.
“Ryan’s plan is not about a fear of debt; it’s about a fear of government,” Carmon said during the debate on budget plans. “The Republican party is stuck in the past.”
To this, one of Carmon’s opponents, sophomore Matthew Lehmann, responded with his opposing point of view.
“Obama’s plan stabilizes the deficit; our plan addresses it and reduces the debt to GDP ratio,” Lehmann said. “It’s about security. [The Obama plan] would like you to believe the budget is all about research and development, education and infrastructure, but these are based on cigarette taxes, a behavior we’d like to deter.”
In turn, Carmon responded with commentary on the importance of education in his view.
“Nothing reduces the deficit more than promoting economic growth,” he said. “Our economy grows when we are the most competitive, the most educated. This starts from the middle and grows out, not from the top down.”
Members of the College Democrats enjoyed participating in the debate.
“We had three people working together on each topic, and then two debated,” junior Suzy Yaster, President of College Democrats, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
“A lot of preparing felt natural for our team, because these are the types of discussions we have each week at our meetings,” Carmon said. “It’s fun to share convictions you hold so deeply, especially when you put them to the test of a debate.
No winners were chosen at the end of the event as it was intended to be an informed debate rather than a competition based on audience attendance.
“Simply having attendees learn something or hear a new perspective was the goal,” Yaster wrote.
Strong opinions continued to be shared throughout the night, which ended on the topic of gun control.
College Republican Daniel Takash clarified his team’s stance on gun control early on.
“We’re not saying everyone should have a machine gun, but that gun control is not the right thing to do,” he said.
Takash also made a point about Democrats causing the Republican party to be “pigeon-holed” by referring to the “crazy NRA guy with a bottle of moonshine in one hand.”
To her opponents’ points, College Democrats freshman Meaghan Coffey affirmed that guns do not keep us safe.
“This debate is about the right to breathe,” she said. “We have become desensitized by gun deaths today. A human life is worth more than a hobby.”