NMU students debate key political issues


The slumping economy, the war in Iraq and the rising number of Americans without health insurance dominated Wednesday’s debate between the NMU Democrats and Republicans.

The event, hosted by the NMU Political Review, drew a near-capacity crowd to Jamrich 103 to watch a panel of three Republicans and three Democrats debate issues regarding the current political climate and the upcoming presidential election.

The questions were formulated prior to the debate by the Progressive Students Roundtable and were asked by debate moderators political science professor William Ball and philosophy professor David Cooper.

The economy was a theme that endured in the panelists’ answers throughout the evening.

“This trickle-down effect that has been a proven failure is now being revisited by conservative administrations and I doubt that they will be more effective now,” Lauren Mattioli, junior pre-law and philosophy major and member of the College Democrats, said in response to how a democratic candidates strategy would differ from that of John McCain.

College Republican President and senior secondary education major Kyle Bonini responded by saying that republican policies towards the economy were a sound strategy for moving America forward.

“Whether the Democrats want to admit it or not, the economy has changed,” Bonini said. “We need jobs for the 21st century, not the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Another issue that was brought up several times during the debate was the Iraq War. The democratic panel favored an immediate exit strategy with all troops out of Iraq by the year 2013, while the Republican panel favored remaining in Iraq until stability can be achieved.

“4,003 servicemen have been killed in Iraq, over 90,000 innocent Iraqis (have been) killed, and it has a price tag of almost $2 trillion,” Democratic panelist Cameron Fure said. “When Republicans always say that all Democrats want to do is spend, spend, spend, we should look at that $2 trillion figure.”

Fure added that it was terrible that the United States could pick up a $2 trillion price tag for the war but could not provide basic services to United States citizens.

“If we can afford to build roads, bridges and schools in Iraq, we should be able to make sure that all Americans have access to health care,” he said.

Bonini maintained that there were defensible reasons for America to be fighting in Iraq and that John McCain had a strategy to win the war.

“What we have are millions of people who are free today. Millions of people are voting for the first time in their lives. Saddam Hussein … has been hanged,” Bonini said. “He received the justice that he denied to his own people.”

Miles Baker, head of the Political Review said he was pleased with how the event went.

“It went well, both the College Democrats and the College Republicans had strong debaters, and look at this turnout,” Baker said, motioning to the filled seats. “So many people interested in politics, it’s great to see this on campus.”

In addition to fostering interest in politics through listening to the debate, the Political Review also had a booth set up where students who had not already done so were able to register to vote. As of press time 15 students had registered to vote at the event.

“It’s great to see all the involvement and all the passion,” Baker concluded.