The Great Debate

YDS and YR throw down during seminar Thursday

Last Thursday’s debate between the Young Democratic Socialists of Eastern Kansas (YDS) and the Young Republicans (YR) covered an array of topics ranging from immigration to education. Each team was allowed a five person panel, three minutes to answer each question and one minute for a rebuttal.

After an opening statement from each team, the first question, given by moderator and history teacher Scott Hirons, tackled immigration. YR president Joe Petty started it off by speaking about the benefits of stricter immigration policies as well as the damage illegal immigrants can cause.

YDS co-president Mia Duncan then spoke to the benefits of immigration and the need for more flexible policies, as well as the potential issues of plans like that of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“We need to stop viewing immigration as a problem,” Duncan said. “The problem is a system that devalues and exploits human beings.”

Petty included in his rebuttal that YR “have no intentions of [building] a wall.”

The next question covered budget reform and economic issues. YDS member Ellie Bartlett argued in favor of raising of the minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana in all 50 states.

“Everyone thinks the legalization of weed is a selfish topic, but it will actually stimulate our economy,” Bartlett said.

YR treasurer Briley Buckley then spoke in favor of balancing the budget and cutting ties with China.

“We need to bring everything back to America, and let it thrive right here in the beautiful United States of America,” Buckley said.

Tenuta gave the YDS rebuttal and mentioned the impracticality of the Republican plan.

“Nobody in America would want to work the jobs that the Chinese people are doing,” Tenuta said.

Healthcare was the next topic covered. YR member Brady Anderson emphasized the problems with the Affordable Care Act as well as the importance of full transparency in health care.

“Everyone in this audience knows exactly how much a Chipotle burrito costs, but does anyone know how much it costs to have your appendix taken out? No,” Anderson said.

Bartlett then spoke to the benefits of a single payer healthcare system and required vaccinations. She finished by speaking about abortions being a “basic health right” for women.

“You men in this room have no right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body,” Bartlett said. “You don’t have a uterus, you don’t have a say.”

Anderson rebuttaled by giving several points against abortion and reiterating previous statements about the negatives of Obamacare.   

Hirons then asked a question regarding climate change. YDS member Hannah Hall stepped up to the podium to answer first.

She addressed the need for strong policies that will help us reduce our environmental impact and transition to cleaner energy.

Petty followed Hall and expressed concerns for the economy in regards to environmental policies. He also said that we should use fossil fuels while we still can.

“Coal is a cheap, domestic, abundant energy,” Petty said. “It is a fossil fuel, and it will run out. However, we have 200 years left, and we might as well use it.”

YDS member Leah Thomas expanded on points made by Hall, saying that the economy will not suffer from these changes.

“The earth is not a resource for humanity to exploit and destroy,” Thomas said.

Next, Hirons brought up the recent Iran deal. YR member Grant Holferich said it was a “terrible deal” and highlighted his concerns with it. Tenuta argued that there was no credible reason not to support the deal, but Holferich was adamant that the deal was a mistake.

Continuing on the topic of the Middle East, Hirons asked about what role the Guantanamo Bay detention camp should play in the war on terror, specifically against ISIS.

Hall strongly argued that Guantanamo Bay is inhumane and should be shut down.

“Torture doesn’t even get results of reliable information,” Hall said.

Rudy then spoke in favor of the detention center, saying that information gained through torture tactics played a role in the 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Thomas elaborated on Hall’s points.

“The problems we see [in the Middle East] now are a direct result of US involvement,” Thomas said.

The topic then moved on to gun control. Anderson answered for YR and was strongly against the idea of laws restricting guns.

“There will always be a way to get guns…no matter how many restrictions you push through, bad people will always find a way to do bad things,” Anderson said.

Thomas advocated for gun control, citing gun violence tragedies as the main reason to push restrictions.

“Self protection doesn’t need to come with a high cost of innocent lives,” Thomas said. “The right to life must come before the right to bear arms.”

Rudy then said it would be a mistake to restrict rights guaranteed by the second amendment. He also quoted “infamous socialist” Adolf Hitler in his rebuttal.

The final topic covered was education, specifically the cost of higher education. Tenuta gave an argument in favor of affordable education for all students. He also showed support for Obama’s recent plan to make community college free for those willing to work to meet certain requirements.

“Education should be something that is guaranteed,” Tenuta said.

Anderson then gave the point that “higher education is a privilege, not a right.” He argued that students are more motivated to work if the stakes are higher.

“You work better under pressure. I don’t think that giving free education is how you get good results,” Anderson said.

Bartlett then gave a rebuttal furthering YDS’s argument in favor of affordable higher education.

Petty gave the YR concluding statement, finishing with a reference to Trump’s slogan.

“What you can do is help us make South great again, make our community great again, make Kansas great again, and ultimately, make America great again,” Petty said.

Duncan delivered the final statement for YDS.

“When has America ever been great?” Duncan said. “We can’t make this country great again, but can make it great.”

YR and YDS intend to hold more seminar debates in the future with the hope that more students will be able to attend.