Story by Mitchell Brown, for The Muleskinner—
In the aftermath of the presidential election, the UCM Talking Mules Speech and Debate team put on a public debate exhibition entitled, “This House Believes America Got It Wrong,” which centered on whether the re-election of Barack Obama was the best decision.
The debate, which took place in the Elliott Union on Nov. 8, was one in a series of monthly debates put on by the Talking Mules.
The points of contention in the debate ranged from the economy, to healthcare, to foreign policy. The debaters were assigned a predetermined position on the issue.
Those arguing in favor of the re-election of Barack Obama on the opposition team were Jeff May, David Rogers and Matt Gilmore. Arguing on the government team, proclaiming that Mitt Romney should have been elected, were Micah Chrisman, Mariah Suddarth and Ryan Michael.
In these presentations, a debater could be placed on the side of an argument that’s not in alignment with his or her own personal beliefs.
Michael commented on this as he came to the podium and jovially declared that he’s the most liberal member of the debate team, yet he was assigned to argue in favor of electing Mitt Romney.
Adam Blood, graduate assistant debate and forensics coach for the Talking Mules, said the topic of the debate was chosen before the election was decided.
“We thought it would get people’s attention,” Blood said. “We chose a topic that would give people impetus to speak their mind.”
The role of the electoral college was a re-occurring topic throughout the debate.
Blood said an interest in the role of the electoral college for many college students is tied to their memories of the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush and the controversial role of the electoral college.
Blood also said he thinks some people had a problem with the 2012 election being called while the popular vote was still being tabulated.
Those on the government side drew attention to what they considered to be the perceived flaws of the electoral college, and the opposition defended the existence of the electoral college.
Rogers said getting rid of the electoral college wouldn’t diminish the impact and importance of so-called swing states, as he said that states with larger populations would still have a major influence on elections.
“Even if we were to disregard the electoral college, Obama would have still won the popular vote,” Rogers said. As reported on the Huffington Post, Obama took 50.6 percent of the popular vote, with a total of 62,346,445 votes, and Romney took 47.8 percent of the popular votes, with a total of 58,976,480 votes.
During one portion of the debate, members of the audience were allowed to step up to a microphone and voice their opinions.
An audience member said when choosing a president she had to look at who would better support her needs.
“I feel Mitt Romney doesn’t support the middle class,” she said. Rogers also made a statement in agreement with her. “Mitt Romney said he doesn’t care about 47 percent of the American people,” Rogers said. “President Barack Obama does, and he will continue to help.”
Michael’s rebuttal was that economic policy shouldn’t just be exclusively geared toward the middle class. He said to do so would be unfair.
Concerning foreign policy, Rogers said he thought Obama has taken a strong stance.
Rogers said Obama has dissuaded Israel from preemptively attacking Iran. He also said that Romney spoke in favor of increased interventionist efforts in foreign affairs.
Speaking in favor of an accelerated interventionist foreign policy, Michael said Romney had proposed a plan to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. He also said such an action would serve to spread peace and prosperity to other regions.
In relation to Obama’s re-election, Suddarth said, “The definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over again without change—that’s exactly what we have with Obama.”
Members of the opposition and the audience voiced the opinion that it would take more than four years to fix pressing national problems.
“Regardless of the differences we may have, I want you to go away from this debate remembering to at least be thankful we have an opportunity to pick our leaders,” Michael said.
“It was a peaceful election. The outcome was whatever it may be,” Gilmore said. “If you’re a Republican, if you’re a Tea Party member, it’s OK, because there will be four years, and you get to cast your ballot again.”