In the left corner, representing the Donkeys, were Adam Peck and Brian Lee from the College Democrats. In the right corner were the Elephants, Aditya Ramanthan and Jonathan Pu from the College Republicans.
Democrats and Republicans came together on Wednesday night in the SAC auditorium to engage in a battle of ideologies for the first time in four years.
The topics on the table were President Barack Obama’s economic policies and border control. Members from the Stony Brook Speech and Debate Society refereed the debate.
The proverbial bell rang and the College Democrats took the floor first. As if their fists were shielding their faces, their goal was to defend the economic policies of Obama over the past two years.
“It’s important to remember the environment he stepped into, we had just gotten out of eight years of reversing the economic fortune we had previously experience,” Peck said as he argued that former President George W. Bush’s Administration had spent eight years reversing the economic fortune the country had previously experienced under Former President Bill Clinton.
“We are seeing good signs and we will continue seeing good signs,” Peck said. He argued that in the last month, the unemployment rate fell below nine percent for the first time since 2008; it was successful jab at Republican policies by Peck.
“They like to make a big deal out of cutting spending while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country,” he said.
The College Republicans responded with their metaphorical fists swinging.
“Most people still think that we haven’t hit recovery,” said Jonathan Pu. “If we go by what we feel we can say that we haven’t yet left the recession.”
“Even though we’ve seen growth, it’s not very inspiring,” he said to the Democrats. He brought up leading indicators in economic growth like the housing market. “We’ve seen housing permits decrease by two percent since 2009.”
Ding, ding, ding. Round two.
The College Democrats got the chance to regain some footing. Peck defended his economic sentiments.
“I don’t think that anyone can say that we are fully out of a recession – I didn’t make that argument I wouldn’t make that argument,” he said. “If President Obama continues to move into a direction that he has in the last two years plus we will continue to see growth and I think that by the time the 2012 elections roll around we’ll be on even more stable ground.”
Peck then threw a seemingly fail-proof sucker punch: “We still haven’t even seen the full effects of the stimulus bill.”
Instead of retreating from the mention of the stimulus plan, Pu shot back as he said, “we’ve already used most of the money from the stimulus package in the last two years.”
Pu and Peck went punch for punch. Peck defended the Hire Act, Pu accused Obama of policing Wall Street.
Time was up. It was their teammates’ turns.
Debate is a tag-team sport, ladies and gentleman. After two rounds in the ring, Peck and Pu let their teammates have it out.
Aditya Ramanthan came out for the Elephants.
“I’d say the biggest issue of Obama’s policies on the economy is exactly where we are,” he said. “We’ve seen a giant spike in credit, people are taking out more loans than ever before.” Ramanthan continued pummeling current economic policies.
“We’ve been expanding the hole and we’re out of dirt to fill the hole with,” he said. “Even after stimulus bill, we haven’t recovered; in fact we’re worse than we were in 2008. He’s setting us up for a double dip.”
Brian Lee smoothly recovered from the beat down of accusations laid out by Ramanthan.
“You cannot deny that the stimulus bill saved and made jobs for the middle class,” Lee said. “I think that we are on more stable footing that we were on in 2008. President Obama’s policies have not fixed everything but we are better off than we were in 2008.”
Lee argued that under the economic policies of Obama there has been a major stabilization of the market. It was enough to regain some ground for the donkeys.
Round four. Time for Lee and Ramanthan to faceoff again and revisit their arguments.
Arguments over a second stimulus bill ensued. The two sides seemed to agree that the original bill had not been enough.
“Obama’s plan has been to make things look like they’re moving forward when things are worse than they’ve ever been,” said Ramathan and with that, finished off the round.
The teams recuperated from the ideological slugs and it was time for the battle on border control.
The battle of the parties that had kept the stage heated dissolved into nothing more than a peace circle; all that was missing was the guitar and the hemp.
The two teams came to a consensus that the amnesty approach for illegal immigrants in the country wasn’t the answer and that the DREAM Act, though a good start was imperfect.
In the end, they agreed that employer sponsorship was a positive way to bring people to the country and that there should be repercussions for hiring illegal immigrants by employers.
After nearly 10 minutes of each team respectfully agreeing with one another, Peck applauded the consensus that could be reached between the two teams but expressed regret that the Republicans running the country had a more extreme view of how to deal with immigration.
With that, the debate ended.
The Elephants and the Donkeys walked away licking their wounds over economic policies and feeling more united on the future of border control in the United States.
“I felt like the debate went well for both sides and was a good exchange of viewpoints,” said Matthew Howard, a sophomore and member of the College Democrats. “The audience was able to sit there and hear the arguments from both parties and could make their own decisions based on what they heard.”