Posted on November 7, 2016.
Link for reporting chapter debate results:HERE
November Debate of the Month: Resolved, that the legal voting age in all American elections be lowered to sixteen
Brief: The 26th amendment, ratified as part of the Constitution in 1971, lowered the legal voting age of all U.S. citizens to eighteen years of age. At the time, the public saw a grave injustice in the fact that many of the thousands of young men who were dying for America in Vietnam were not even legally old enough to vote in their county’s elections. In the present day, some have begun a new movement to once again lower America’s voting age, this time to sixteen. Some localities like Takoma Park, Maryland have already lowered the voting age to sixteen for all local elections, and many states allow for seventeen year olds to vote in state and presidential primaries. With recent elections highlighting dramatic political apathy among America’s youth, our nation must ask itself if lowering the voting age will generate fresh enthusiasm among young people towards civic engagement, or will it simply increase the size of America’s large number of young eligible voters who never make it to the polls?
Preventing sixteen and seventeen year olds from expressing their views inside the ballot box ignores the reality that millions of teenagers are just as politically informed as the rest of the voting population.
There are a plethora of issues, from education to climate change to the national debt, that will especially affect America’s future generations but are currently being ignored by politicians who have no incentive to address the concerns of the youth.
Our government trust sixteen year olds enough to allow them to drive 2 ton vehicles at many miles per hour. If these citizens are capable of doing something so complicated and dangerous as driving, surely they’re capable enough to know which candidates reflect their political beliefs.
Although many teenagers may be informed about political issues, the vast majority of them aren’t and couldn’t care less about them. It would be irresponsible for America to hand the reigns of power to such a politically apathetic demographic.
Most sixteen and seventeen year olds have not even finished high school, let alone taken a class in civics or government. We need to ensure our country’s voters have at least progressed to adulthood before we can assume they are capable of making informed decisions of such importance.
The American young people who are currently eligible to vote have some of the lowest turnout rates of any group in our democracy. Lowering the voting age even further will not address the issues of young voter apathy, it will merely extend it to millions of more teenagers.
For more background on the ratification of the 26th Amendment click here. For more information on where the voting age has already been lowered in the U.S. click here. For more information about the youth vote in the United States click here. For more arguments in favor of this resolution click here. For more arguments against this resolution click here.
Posted in Featured, National Debate of the Month, Uncategorized
Posted on October 3, 2016.
Link for reporting chapter debate results:HERE
October Debate of the Month: Resolved, that all Presidential candidates on enough state ballots to win a majority vote in the Electoral College be included in the Presidential Debates.
Brief: During the current Presidential Election we have seen the American public’s opinion of the two major-party candidates reach historic lows, while the support for alternative choices has never been higher. This leads many to question why the nationally-televised debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates do not include any of the presidential candidates besides Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Commission states that third-party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, despite being on enough state ballots to be elected President, do not meet their minimum requirements for public support and therefore are not invited unless they reach 15 percent support among the voters in a series of respected Presidential preference polls. But considering most Americans would like to see third-party candidates included, is it time for the Commission to lax its rules and add the extra podiums, or do the current third-party candidates not receive enough support to justify their inclusion in these potentially election-deciding debates?
It is extremely unlikely that any third-party candidate could reach the Commission’s current polling threshold, because in order to get that level of support candidates would need to get their message out during a major televised event like a Presidential Debate where they could speak to tens of millions of voters who may not know who they are otherwise.
Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are on enough state ballots to be elected President of the United States via the Electoral College, therefore the Commission should allow the American people to hear from all the possibilities and not set an arbitrary threshold based on polling, which can often misrepresent the will of the voters.
The two-party system does not represent the broad spectrum of Americans’ political views, and considering both the current major-party candidates’ unpopularity, adding more points of view to the debates would better reflect the true ideological diversity of our democracy.
The Commission’s requirement that candidates reach 15 percent in 5 well-respected presidential preference polls is a totally acceptable qualifier because there is no possibility a candidate with less support could win the election.
The two current third-party candidates that this resolution would include, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, do not deserve to participate in the Presidential Debates because they are not remotely qualified candidates for the office, especially considering the former has a warrant out for her arrest and the later doesn’t even know what Aleppo is.
Two more candidates on the stage would be a distraction from the two candidates who could actually win the election, thus wasting the time of the American voters who want to hear from the person who will be their next President.
For information regarding the Commission on Presidential Debate’s requirements for candidates to be included click here. To see the two major candidates’ aggregated support in national polls since June click here. For an analysis of how significantly the Presidential Debates affect the election click here. For Governor Gary Johnson’s Presidential campaign website click here. For Dr. Jill Stein’s Presidential campaign website click here.
Posted in National Debate of the Month, Uncategorized
Posted on August 31, 2016.
Report chapter results of the debate of the month HERE.
Resolved, all persons on Federal terror watch lists be prohibited from buying firearms and ammunition.
In the aftermath of multiple terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, such as those in San Bernardino and Orlando, many have called for a policy that would enable the U.S. Department of Justice to prohibit the sale of firearms to any person on federal terror watch lists such as the ‘no-fly list.’ On June 20th the Senate rejected four separate measures, two proposed by Republicans and two proposed by Democrats, that would make it possible to prohibit those on these watch lists from buying guns. Two days later, Democratic members of the House of Representatives staged a 26 hour sit-in demanding another vote be taken on these proposals. This debate has seen unusual pairs join forces with the liberal-leaning American Civil Liberties Union joining Conservative politicians like Ted Cruz to oppose the proposals, and with Republican nominee Donald Trump in large part agreeing with the Democratic President Barack Obama that these policies should be enacted.
- America has the most robust intelligence network in the world, if Federal agencies suspect someone of potential terrorist activities, they are too dangerous to own a gun.
- The government has the authority to suspend someone’s constitutional rights when they pose an imminent risk to our national security.
- Although likely rare, if someone is mistakenly put on a watch list they would be able to purchase firearms and ammunition after it is clear they are not a security risk.
- This policy would violate Americans’ 5th and 14th Amendment entitlement to due process of law before having their right to bear arms subverted.
- The American justice system was founded on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” but this policy would reverse that and require Americans to prove themselves innocent in courts where classified information would likely be used against them.
- There is no evidence to suggest this policy would have prevented any of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, such as those in Orlando and San Bernardino.
- For general information about federal terror watch lists and how they currently affect the sale of firearms click here.
- For a summary of who federal law currently prohibits from buying firearms and ammunition click here.
- For a breakdown of the four terror-watch-list related gun-control proposals voted on by the Senate in June click here.
- As this is certain to be discussed during the current election cycle, see below for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees stances on guns.
Posted in Featured, National Debate of the Month, Uncategorized
Posted on February 8, 2016.
Resolved, that the Natural Born Citizen Clause Be Abolished.
Constitutionally speaking, all presidents of the United States of America must be three things: at least 35 years old, a permanent resident of the United States for at least 14 years and a natural born citizen of the United States of America. While the first two requirements are relatively straightforward, the precise definition of “natural born citizen” has dogged constitutional scholars and presidential candidates alike for years. Presidential hopefuls from Chester A. Arthur to George Romney, and more recently Barack Obama and Ted Cruz, have faced challenges to their eligibility of varying degrees of seriousness, all based around the natural born citizen clause.
Both of these challenges and the general principle of the natural born citizen clause have drawn the ire of many, and prior challenges to the clause have either been in the form of constitutional amendments or legal motions against it. In 2012, Abdul Karim Hassan, a Guyana-born candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, filed a number of complaints to Federal Court claiming that the natural born citizen clause violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, discriminating against citizens based on nationality. In addition, Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, proposed the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment in 2003. This amendment would repeal the natural born citizen clause, and make it so that any U.S citizen that has been citizen for at least 20 years, and fulfils all other requirements, would be eligible for the presidency.
Read an explanation of the natural born citizen clause here, and read a pro and con argument for it here.
Points in Favor of Abolishing the Natural Born Citizen Clause:
Blocking certain individuals from the presidency simply due to their parentage and place of birth is antithetical to the American ideals of equal rights and liberty.
The concern that those born in other countries to non-American parents have divided loyalties is unreasonable, as candidates still would have to be American citizens for extended periods of time.
The reasoning that the founders had for the clause, based around America’s susceptibility to foreign influence, is no longer valid. America is no longer a fledgling nation easily influenced, but instead a global superpower and influencer.
Points Against Abolishing the Natural Born Citizen Clause:
Many naturalized citizens still feel a close affinity to their countries of birth, and this can result in bias in favor of that country, no matter how American a candidate is.
Other groups of naturalized citizens, like those who came to America as a way of fleeing persecution in their native lands, can be biased against their birth countries, which is also undesirable.
The high stature of the presidency justifies more stringent eligibility requirements for its officeholders.
Abolishing the clause wouldn’t deal with the underlying xenophobia in American society that caused the creation of the clause.
Posted in National Debate of the Month