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Clubs dispute in Crossfire debates

Katie Peralta | Monday, April 21, 2008

With the events of the weekend, including Saturday’s annual Blue-Gold game, Notre Dame’s student political groups knew the campus would be bustling with people and activity Friday night, and took the opportunity to hold Campus Crossfire Debates on a makeshift stage on South Quad.

“There’s going to be be people outside [on Friday],” said junior Mike Scholl, treasurer of Notre Dame College Republicans.

The event was organized by three clubs along with NDVotes, a non-partisan political education campaign.

Notre Dame College Democrats, College Republicans and College Libertarians met to discuss politics in a debate setting, with two representatives from each club on a panel. Two NDVotes representatives, seniors Carol Hendrickson and Mike McKenna, moderated the debates.

Representing the College Democrats was outgoing co-president senior Corey Mehlos and junior Spencer Howard, freshman Ben Linskey and senior Mark Poyar for College Libertarians, and Scholl and freshman Andrew Clark for College Republicans.

The panel gathered to discuss their respective party’s stance on three current political topics: foreign policy, domestic policy and the state of the U.S. economy.

“We really want to get the campus more aware of party platforms,” said Howard, the current co-president of College Democrats.

All three clubs agreed that Iraq and terrorism as the most pressing issues concerning foreign policy, although each offered differing explanations and solutions for the issue.

“We have to keep our commitment to Iraq,” Scholl said. “We have to provide security to the people, rebuild institutions, end sectarian violence and make sure the government is self-reliant. Basically, we need to make sure they are not worse off than they were before [the U.S. invasion.]”

College Libertarian Linskey emphasized the importance of peace and freedom in Iraq, along with protection of the American people, and warned of the danger of engaging in “fruitless” affairs abroad.

“We have gained nothing [from this war]. We have become alienated from our friends around the world,” Linskey said. “We need to immediately begin withdrawal in a safe and orderly manner.”

Poyar said the Libertarian solution is the only one to the foreign policy debate.

“We cannot trust Democrats and Republicans to end this war. We need to be a beacon of hope for the global community,” he said.

The two Democrats agreed that the basic goal of foreign policy is the protection of the United States, and that the war in Iraq has not been successful.

“We have lost sight of our original intent, which was to prevent another [terrorist] attack,” Howard said.

Concerning domestic policy, both the Libertarians and Republicans agreed that universal healthcare is not a wise choice for the country, saying it would necessitate too much governmental involvement.

“Government should be small and effective, not big and overpowering,” Clark said.

College Democrats, however, argued in favor of universal healthcare.

“Martin Luther King once said that injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhuman thing in our country,” Mehlos said. “One-third of Americans have no health care.”

The two Democratic representatives argued in favor of providing affordable health care to all Americans.

“We need to look at health care as a right of all Americans,” Mehlos said.

College Democrats lamented the state of the American economy.

“We need to balance the budget, which is now out of control because of the Iraq war,” Mehlos said. “We need to create green jobs and get Americans good wages.”

Republicans took a different stance, favoring tax cuts and decreased spending. Libertarians took a similar stance, favoring tax cuts and reduced spending as well.

“A free market can result in prosperity for all,” Poyar said,

Poyar also criticized Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s economic credentials.

“McCain once said he ‘does not understand much about economics,'” Poyar said.

All three clubs said they hope Friday’s debates encouraged political interest and involvement on the campus, especially in light of Indiana’s May 6 primary.

“Even if people were here for only 30 seconds, I just want them to hear what we’re saying,” Scholl said.