Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

A Review of This Year’s ‘Great Debate’

The University of Georgia Chapel and scene for the Georgia Political Review’s fifth annual Great Debate.

On October 6th, the Georgia Political Review hosted its fifth annual Great Debate at the University of Georgia Chapel between the school’s College Republicans and Young Democrats.  Before the debating began, both parties presented an opening statement that summarized their fundamental beliefs. The College Republicans opened with an introduction that framed the group as one that prides itself on its teachings of fiscal and personal responsibility, while the Young Democrats introduced themselves as a group that stresses the importance of government intervention and political correctness in combatting social issues.

The first hour of the debate focused on governmental topics, such as immigration reform, job growth in the United States, and the topic of Muslim Refugees, which tied into a discussion about the Syrian War. These questions were right in the College Republicans wheelhouse and allowed them to simply dominate the first half of the debate. The Young Democrats struggled to argue for a viable immigration reform policy and simply claimed that building a physical barrier would not keep illegal immigrants out of the country. On the question of job growth, the College Republicans used several examples of job markets in the state of Georgia, such as the entertainment market and market for small businesses, and discussed how Georgia could be used as a model for the whole US. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state of Georgia had the 7th most small businesses in the United States and was also ranked 7th in terms of private sector employment growth in 2015. Promoting job market growth in the brewery industry, Senate Bill 63, also known as the “Beer Jobs Bill,” took effect July 2015. The bill allows breweries to sell alcohol on sight and provide extra services, such as tours, for additional charges. This bill also allows breweries to sell higher amounts of liquor to allow the industry to grow.

The biggest stumble of the night for The Young Dems was on the topic of Muslim Refugees and the civil war in Syria. The Young Democrat arguing on this topic repeatedly stumbled over her words, at one point calling Japanese Internment Camps from the 1940s “Concentration Camps”. She briefly mentioned the social evil of these camps, but conveniently neglected any mention of the Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, that implemented them. She then moved on to claim that the US needed to help protect the Syrians because Russia was moving a S300 missile system into Syria, but the College Republicans were quick to argue that the S300 system was purely for the defense of Russian troops in Syria. 

Though the College Republicans dominated the first half, especially on the issue of job growth, they started to struggle in the second half of the debate as the topics shifted to social issues. The topics that arose revolved around the Black Lives Matter movement, the LGBT community, and the media. On the topic of Black Lives Matter, the Republicans received their first major crowd disapproval. The Young Dems started out the topic noting that black men are convicted and punished at a higher rate than white males. The College Republicans made the claim that, proportionally, African Americans commit more crimes on average. This claim expectedly yielded a loud “boo” from the crowd despite its truth. Any criminal justice major will agree that this claim is correct. Proportionally, African Americans commit more crimes on average, but the argument that this statistic has more to do with economic status and less with race is all too compelling and the College Republicans should have had a better answer prepared for this entry-level ideological discussion. On the topic of the LGBT community, the Young Dems had a good argument discussing how Mike Pence (the Republican nominee for Vice President) recently signed a religious freedom law that gives businesses the ability to refuse service to homosexual customers. The College Republicans let down their guard and ceded this topic to the Democrats, saying that they do not agree with the law as they believe no one should be discriminated against.

On the issue of the media, two seriously varying outlooks presented themselves. The Young Dems said the media was unbiased, while the College Republicans argued that media is extremely biased against Donald Trump. This last week in the media undoubtedly suggests that the College Republicans are correct. When news came out that Donald Trump made a statement in 2005 that strongly degraded women, media coverage of this singular video covered up for the tens of thousands of emails, deleted by Hillary Clinton, that WikiLeaks released. Though Trump’s decade-old folly deserved plenty of the media’s criticism, these emails are especially important because they undermine Clinton’s desire for recognition as a candidate for the middle class. And the leak simply was not covered enough relative to its significance. The deleted emails show transcripts of Clinton’s speeches to private donors on Wall Street that paint Clinton as another fake populist, which backs claims that Bernie Sanders made when running against Clinton. These emails are a little too late to help the ostracized Sanders, but shows his supporters, who Clinton’s campaign would love to absorb into her voting bloc, that Clinton truly does not share their beliefs. This scandal could cause many of these supporters to either shift to an independent party or possibly even to the Republican front runner, Donald Trump. To make matters even worse, WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange claims some of the emails even prove that Clinton indirectly took part in allowing American weapons to reach the hands of ISIS.  

Overall, the College Republicans seemed to win the night. They had strong arguments in the first half and when they were booed in the second half, it seemed to merely be a representation of the crowd’s bias rather than a knowledgeable, intellectual disagreement. The Young Dems had good moments, but overall struggled to possess a certain strength in their arguments to legitimately rival their competitors.

— Zachary Williams is a junior studying Political Science and Criminal Justice. He is a First-Time Contributor to THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE.

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