Amid tense politics times, few people dare listen to the other side. The CCSU college Democrats and Republicans tried to change that by facing off in a debate geared for people to start having thoughtful conversations again with those of opposing viewpoints. The event, held on March 9th, 2017 at 7pm, was hosted in Semesters in the Student Center and was moderated by the Society of Professional Journalists. The moderators were CCSU Journalism majors John Raz, Lisa Manicotte and Analisa Novak. A mid size audience of around 20 people, ranging rom young to old, watched both sides duck it out for the 90 stated minutes.
Both political clubs sat in separate small tables on top of the Semesters’ platform facing the table hosting the moderators, which were off the platform. The CCSU Democrats was represented by Stephan Dew and Josh Quintana, while the CCSU Republicans were represented by Nathan Buyak and Andrew Lanciotto. The three topics discussed were gun control, healthcare and immigration, issues that have stirred up arguments far and wide.
Around 30 minutes was dedicated to each topic, as well as 30 minutes in the end for questions. John was in charge of the gun-related questions, while Lisa and Annalisa asked the questions on the latter two topics.
Before any debate questions were asked, Nathan takes about hoe audience members should approach questions, “with an curious-mind”. He said that we live in a age where “it’s hard to have a lead on what people actually believe and why they believe it”, stating that fake news was a major factor in the polarization of society. He also urged audience members to get involved, saying sign in sheets were available.
John started the discussion by asking if “… veterans (should) have policies pertaining to the acquirement of firearms be relaxed, given their service to our country?”
Nathan, a veteran himself said that the laws should be relaxed, though at the same time acknowledging that some veterans return with severe mental hardships.
Pointing to the bigger picture, Andrew added that “If we’re going to talk about the second amendment and how we have the right to bear arms, we have to talk that anyone can own a gun, if you’re living in the United States and you’re living under the constitution.”
Stephan focused on assault rifles, saying “In my mind, somebody should not be allowed to own an assault weapon or an assault rifle. These are military weapons which are built to kill people.”
Nathan countered this argument by saying “It’s very important to know what assault rifles are, most people think that you’re talking about this big, scary black gun that’s going to go pun-pun-pun, that I can pull the trigger and it will just go pun-pun-pun which is not the case, right. Assault rifles, legal assault rifles, you pull the trigger once, you get one bullet, and you have to pull the trigger again. There’s a very big difference between an AK-47 and legal assault rifles.”
Moving onto healthcare, Annalisa asked the Republicans if “Is there anything about Obamacare that you like or would keep, and that once again will ask the question to College Democrats, is there about the future of Trumpcare that you guys like or would keep.”
Josh said “I think it should go further than the ACA, and support Universal healthcare. Universal healthcare works. In every single first world society, Universal healthcare works.”
Nathan denied Josh’s statements by saying, “Whenever we end up having these conversations, we unavoidably drift off to these utopias that exist in northern Europe and Canada. And it turns out that Canada’s healthcare system was declared a human rights violation in 2009.”
Annalisa eventually moved on to was was perhaps the most passionate issue of the election, “The President has asked to built The Wall, as you know this question was going to come up, sure both of you guys did.”
“It won’t work,” Josh replied. “The old saying goes, “You show me a 10 foot wall, I’ll show you a 11 foot ladder.”
Nathan replyed by stating “When we have what we have now which is a mild welfare type system, where you pay taxes, you pay consistently and it goes to the hospitals, right. When you have that kind of system, you can’t have people coming into the country who don’t pay taxes and then go into the hospitals and use our systems.”
The last 30 minutes were dedicated to answering audience questions. Several audience members critiqued the responses from both sides. One man stated how he had been severely affected due to Obamacare while another stated how many undocumented immigrants still pay taxes, despite contrary beliefs.
CCSU Senior Chris Marinelli asked if the debaters “believe there should be a pathway to citizenship for people protected by DACA?”
Debaters from both sides talked about what they taught this experience gave to the community.
Andrew said that “All of this was we pretty much wanna gather people and have this conversation on campus. We want Democrats, Republicans, whatever”.
One debater even used this event to find more on where he falls politically.”
Stephan Dew said that he “used to be a Republican until the 2016 election I joined to debate to find where I subside on the issues. It turns out I’m more liberal than I thought I was on certain issues. Especially immigration, healthcare and gun control. I’ve always been very liberal on those but I’ve always tried to be fiscally conservative, but now it seems to be more of a mainstream Democrat than I thought, so I guess that was the goal of the debate”.
This events followed events like “Tea Against Bigotry” designed to quell disagreement between different student factions.