The College Democrats and College Libertarians took the podium for a lively ideological debate on Thursday evening in the Old University Union.
The debate was held town-hall style, with all the questions coming from the audience. Each side, which consisted of five debaters, was given four minutes to answer each question, followed by a two-minute rebuttal.
The night was full of intense, and often heated, back and forth. Tensions escalated after the moderator, Philip Yuen, who writes for Pipe Dream’s News section, posed a question about national security and drones.
Andrew Schwartz, a libertarian debater, argued that Obama’s use of drones is unconstitutional and un-American.
“Do you really want the government to kill people before they have a chance to defend themselves without the right to a trial, without the right to an attorney?” Schwartz said. “It flies against everything this country stands for.”
Travis Sloboda, a junior majoring in political science, countered Schwartz with an ill-received degree of intensity.
“Delusion!” Sloboda shouted. “Are you kidding me? As soon as Obama takes advantage of the national supremacy clause or the elastic clause you got a problem with it. Are you forgetting that you are supposed to be socially liberal?”
Sloboda had to be calmed by members of his own team.
Yuen then moved on to a question about the assault weapons ban.
Democrat David Blair, a senior majoring in mathematics, argued that the public should not have access to certain military-grade weapons and that defending yourself against the military is no longer a real concern.
“Militias are kind of something that have been phased out recently,” Blair said.
Libertarian Samson Audino, a freshmen majoring in industrial engineering, said banning assault weapons would be ineffective and unconstitutional.
“The technology exists,” Audino said. “You might put limitations on what gets produced. You might try to limit the kinds of bullets that can be produced. But the thing is the technology isn’t going anywhere. There is even talk about being able to print an AR-15 with a 3D printer.”
The debate reached its most heated point after Yuen asked how we should combat global warming.
Democrat Ryan Madden said that government subsidies to the coal industry and other environmentally unfriendly industries need to be curbed and replaced with subsidies to environmentally friendly industries like wind and solar.
The audience members cringed at libertarian Andrew Schwartz’ response.
“The science behind global warming is shaky at best,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz was met with outbursts of “get off the stage” and “bull shit” from audience members. Yuen made no attempts to stop the interruptions.
The debate concluded on a less heated note with both sides happily shaking hands after a brief discussion on financial regulation.
Both teams seemed to think the other side was the victor.
“I think they may have done a little better than us,” libertarian debater Ryan Cordova said. “People got a little excited in the beginning but then they calmed down and we argued our points.”
John Mermelstein, who made the opening argument for the Democrats, thought the libertarians might have had the edge.
“The libertarians were faithful to the ideology,” Mermelstein said. “There were a few issues where they really presented their opinions clearly and our rebuttals could have been a little bit better. But I fundamentally agree with everything we said and disagree with them.”