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
Posted on January 14, 2016.
Resolved, that Free Speech is being threatened on college campuses.
In the wake of a series of high profile protests at major universities throughout the U.S, largely based around racial-issues, the debate over free speech on college campuses has come to the forefront of the public discourse. While the concept of political correctness possibly limiting free speech, especially on college campuses, has been discussed since the late 1980s, the most recent claims of a threat to Free Speech are largely based on the demands of many protestors and campus advocates. In recent years, many college campuses have implemented systems like safe spaces and trigger warnings that some claim limit free expression in the classroom, though others hold that such systems are helpful for protecting students from sensitive content without being unduly restrictive to free speech. There have also been a few cases of universities cancelling speakers known for controversial views. For example, the UC Berkeley student group charged with choosing commencement speakers rescinded Bill Maher’s invitation to speak in 2014 based mainly on statements he made that they considered Islamophobic; Maher did eventually end up speaking at the commencement, but only after the university’s chancellor overturned the decision.
In recent months, the conversation about free speech on college campuses has grown to be more heated. In September 2015, President Obama expressed concern about the “coddling” of American college students, saying “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views.” After protests in late October and early November, Erika Christakis, a lecturer and associate master of a residential college at Yale University, drew the ire of protesters for criticizing a semi-official report from the school discouraging culturally appropriative halloween costumes resigned. Christakis resigned due to what she claimed was a campus culture not “conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems.” Overall, the debate on free speech on college campuses comes down to what the limits of free speech are, and what constitutes a threat to free speech. Those that claim that there is an assault on free speech on college campuses hold that attempts to limit the expression of those on campus, regardless of possible good intent, are by definition threats to free speech. Those dismissive of the idea of a threat see the possible threats identified by the other side as largely harmless, and even helpful tools that don’t stifle debate so much as make sure that students don’t have to face hurtful and threatening material before they are ready to do so.
Points in Favor:
There have been many attempts by college students from both sides of the political spectrum to block material they personally have issues with, from the Duke freshman who boycotted Fun Home on religious basis to the Michigan students that attempted to block a screening of American Sniper due to content they thought Islamophobic.
While systems like trigger warnings and safe spaces can be helpful for student mental health, the lack of accountability inherent in said systems can be abused to restrict speech as well.
While banning racist speech may seem like a good idea initially, it sets a dangerous precedent for further restrictions on speech based on ideology.
“The New Intolerance of Student Activism” by Colin Friedersdorf in The Atlantic
“From Megaphones to Muzzles” by Susan Milligan in US News and World Report
A few isolated internal incidents on campuses, unduly magnified by national media, do not make a widespread, directed movement against free speech.
Trigger warnings and safe spaces don’t restrict free speech, but instead merely create spaces where people can avoid material that they do not wish to confront.
Discouraging racist speech in certain spaces is not truly censorship— most activism has been in the form of recommendations and has come from other people exercising their freedom of speech, not official censors.
“Straw Freshmen: Why the War on Campus PC Culture is B*******” by Vann R. Newkirk II in Seven Scribes
“Race and the Free Speech Delusion” by Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker
Posted in National Debate of the Month