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Team commemorates famous Lincoln-Douglas debates

Honora Kenney | Friday, November 7, 2008

The presidential debates between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are over and done, but this Sunday, the Notre Dame Parliamentary Debate Team will be commemorating a series of debates that are even farther in the past.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, the face-off between Abraham Lincoln, a Republican and incumbent Stephen Douglas, a Democrat, for an Illinois seat in the United States Senate.

Notre Dame’s Parliamentary Debate Team will be considering the famous proposition Lincoln gave during one of the 1858 debates, that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Using this quote and taking into consideration the implications it has for American citizens, the team will address several of the most polarizing topics in contemporary American politics, focusing not only on the divisions present in public opinion on several issues, but also the history of these divisions.

Tim Fiorta is the team’s coach and a Third Year Law student at Notre Dame.

“The team has worked very hard on this event, and I hope that our presentation will serve to spark further discussion on the issues raised,” he said.

The Notre Dame Parliamentary Debate Team is composed of students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross and model their debates after the British Parliamentary system. The team’s competitions have taken them all over the country, including to locations in Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, Denver, Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“A lot of what we do in debate is very insular, just the same people competing against each other every week,” he said. “It’s really a treat for the team to have the opportunity to speak in a public forum, as it provides both a fresh audience and the chance to showcase our activity to others who may be interested in giving it a try down the road.”

The event will take place Sunday at 4 p.m. in room 138 DeBartolo at 4pm. All students are welcome to attend.