Faculty and students gathered in Newton 214 for the Faculty Political Debate on Oct. 25 hosted by Philosophy Club, College Republicans and College Democrats, where participants discussed the issues surrounding the upcoming election.
The debate featured professor Chair of Philosophy Department Carlo Filice and associate professor of psychology Jim Allen taking liberal positions on the issues and professor of philosophy Ted Everett and professor of accounting Harry Howe taking conservative positions. Visiting assistant professor of philosophy Heidi Savage moderated the debate.
Howe spoke first during the opening remarks, drawing attention to the federal government’s $16 trillion debt.
“We’re not going to be able to tax our way out of this debt problem,” he said.
Howe concluded his remarks with a statement of support for former Gov. Mitt Romney, saying he has a “record of balancing budgets” while President Barack Obama has a “record of overpromising and under delivering.”
Everett also said that Obama’s administration failed to live up to its promise. He said the current president cares “more about symbolism than reality” and is intent on crafting a “political fairytale,” citing specific examples including the government’s investment in energy projects like the Chevrolet Volt.
Allen and Filice both said that they are “reluctant supporters” of Obama and spent much of their opening remarks discussing the tension between democratic ideals and economic markets.
“Democracy in the United States is barely alive; it’s on its last legs,” Allen said.
In regards to the economy, Allen referred multiple times to the current economic crisis as the “Bush recession.”
Filice also spoke of waning democracy in the U.S., specifically the conflict between a democratic government emphasizing egalitarian principles and an economic system that produces, as he said, “winners and losers.”
After speaking on the “serious,” as Filice called the first half of his remarks, he finished with a satirical list of the “top 10 reasons one would vote for Romney.”
After their opening remarks, the participants responded to six questions – four of which came from the audience – that ranged from campaign finance to the potential of a nuclear-capable Iran. Savage posed the first audience question, asking the faculty members to discuss third-party visibility in the media.
“Third parties cannot play the game; they’re not allowed to,” Filice said. He said there are possible solutions to this issue including a shift toward a direct democracy or proportional representation.
In response to questions from Savage, Allen and Howe went back and forth discussing campaign finance and the housing collapse. At one point, Howe said Allen’s rebuttal was “malarkey.”
At the end the debate, the four participants gave short closing remarks. Filice told a story of co-op organizations in the Basque region of Spain and Allen talked about issues not touched on during the debate, including voter suppression and energy policy.
Everett said that the issues he and his colleagues discussed are topics “we all care about,” the complexity of which is “something a slogan won’t solve.” Howe said that he was thankful to the audience for its patience throughout a debate that lasted over two hours.
President of the College Republicans junior Isaac Baskin, said he was “very happy to see that the room was filled” for the debate. The turnout, he said, is evidence that there is significant political interest on campus.