A crowd of University of Tennessee students gathered in Haslam Business Building on Thursday night for pizza and politics.
The debate held between the College Republicans’ president Alex Swisher, and College Democrats’ secretary Kellie May featured many of the hot topics in United States politics today, ranging from education and environmental issues to the DACA decision, healthcare and more.
Student Government Association president, Morgan Hartgrove, served as the moderator.
One topic of interest was federal funding for charter and voucher schools and if such schools should be held to the same standard as public schools.
“I do think that charter schools and voucher schools should be held to the same standard as public schools,” May said. “There are good charter schools, but there are also bad charter schools who do not have to be under any federal oversight, and they can be extremely harmful to public schools.
“We are pouring money into a failing system. By tying the money to the child then you are giving that child and that parent a choice. You are saying to the parent that you have the choice to decide what is best for your child’s education,” Swisher said. “When you have charter schools, you breed competition between schools and those schools become better.”
Another topic heavily debated was if there should be a contribution limit in the next race for Tennessee state government.
“I do think that there should be a campaign contribution limit. They [people] did not want corporations in their politics, and I think it would give back to a lot of citizens if we were the ones contributing, not corporations,” May said. “Haslam, the richest politician in America, obviously has a seat for governor because he has the most money, and that is not how politics should work. That is now how democracy should work.”
Swisher said there should not be a limit.
“Money is speech and that was decided in Citizens United versus the FEC. If it is my money and I want to donate to a campaign or it is my company and I want to donate to a campaign then I should have every right to do so,” Swisher said. “Who is the government to dictate what I am going to do with my money? As far as using my First Amendment right to contribute to a campaign that I fully believe in, no, there should not be a limit on it.”
Finally, a discussion point for both parties was President Donald Trump’s use of his personal Twitter account.
May began the discussion by reading a recent tweet from President Trump’s account.
“Obviously they can [use personal Twitter accounts] because President Obama did it, and he did it in a very respectable fashion. Also, he did not use it to call world leaders names, and he did not use it to do foreign policy,” she said. “He did not use in such a disrespectful, dangerous and inappropriate way that Donald Trump is using it.”
Swisher said no one likes President Trump’s Twitter usage, but thinks Twitter should be used as a tool of communication.
“I think Republicans alike have very recently been calling President Trump out on his actions, and I do not think anyone really likes the use of President Trump’s Twitter for these purposes,” Swisher said. “I do think that Twitter could be utilized as a tool to really effectively communicate with the American people and engage in a conversation with them about what they would like to see and to keep them updated on what the White House is doing.”
Both parties represented were supported by members of their organizations.
Sophomore Arden Gillchrest said both parties covered the topics well.
“I wish they would have talked a little bit more about the economic policies. I know each party seems to be fractured, and I would have like to have heard how each party is dealing with its own inner conflicts more,” Gillchrest stated.
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Edited by Kaitlin Flippo
Featured image by DonkeyHotey