Current political issues were debated between UM Democrats and UM Republicans last week as a group of 35 students took part in the Council for Democracy’s current events debate. Known for its non-partisan politics, Council for Democracy has held forums with such politicians as Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Attorney General Janet Reno.
David McCombie, president of Council for Democracy, was pleased with the turnout.
“I’m really happy,” McCombie said. “The quality of discussion was great.”
Initially the debate began with about 25 people. As time passed more people joined and participated.
Liberals outnumbered moderates and conservatives. Many people came to voice their opinions and see the other side’s views.
“I’m curious to see the Democrats’ position,” Arsen Ivanov, freshman, said. “I just do not understand it.”
Arsen also added that he found out about the event from one of the flyers around the school.
Luke Kozar, junior, said that he came to the event “to see what would happen and maybe participate.” He also added that he heard about the event through “an announcement at the College Democrats’ last meeting.”
Council for Democracy Vice-President Edward Martos said that a lot of advertising was used to promote the event.
“We passed out 1,400 palm cards and posted 250 flyers,” Martos said. “Last semester an average of 100 people came to our events.”
President McCombie stated that the purpose of the event was to “spur debate.”
“We want to hear opinions in a structured venue,” McCombie said.
Martos said that the audience was at the center of the event.
“The council’s motive for the event is to do what the audience wants to do,” Martos said.
The moderators controlled who spoke but allowed the debate to flow by giving a member from each side an equal opportunity to speak.
The debate concentrated on two topics, chosen by a vote from the crowd.
The first topic was foreign policy and the war against Iraq. An overall consensus between everyone was that we need to support our troops.
Moderates and Democrats wanted to see more participation from other countries in the coalition. Democrats also mentioned that they felt lied to by the government. Abortion was another a subject of debate that divided participants along party lines.
“The event provided a good forum to debate ideas,” Daniel Pedreira, sophomore, said.
The debate was organized during a month of preparation by the 20-member executive board.
According to officers and members, the Council for Democracy is dedicated to non-partisan politics.
“The club is split 50/50 between republican and democrat members,” McCombie said. “In the future we would like to bring in a big Republican – our last event we had Democrat Janet Reno.”
For more information on the Council for Democracy go to www.CouncilforDemocracy.org.
Ernesto Zaldivar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.