Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Audience responds to debate

The debate between the College Republicans and College Democrats last night at Memorial Union was an exercise in futility, symptomatic of the flimsiness of our campus political groups. What had the potential for raising the level of academic and political discourse on campus fell flat on its face ? despite the participation of our own unparalleled American political scientist, professor Donald Downs.

While Oliver Kiefer and Sara Mikolajczak are impressive student group leaders in their own right, what transpired at the debate was nothing more than expounding party ideologies and issue positions. A poignant moment occurred when Ms. Mikolajczak, after reciting the party line about gay marriage, was asked by Professor Downs what she personally felt about the issue. She stumbled to begin her answer. Does she agree with the party line, or does she just recite the party line for the public?

Also, the debate showed the unfortunate tit-for-tat nature of our campus political groups when, while discussing the Republicans’ support for cutting certain education funds Mr. Kiefer chided, ?You tried, but we stopped you.?

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I am curious to know when our campus political groups are going to begin putting their actions where their mouths are. The debate showed how they have become not the voice of our student body politic, but instead the voice of party elites who want to tell eager young students what to believe. If the College Democrats truly believe that homosexuals have the right to marriage, when are they going to make a truly concerted effort on their own campus? The last time I checked, University of Wisconsin does not even have domestic partner benefits, and I don’t see the College Dems raising any hell with the university itself on this.

The ?Fair Wisconsin? attempt may have been a good promo, but how could they expect to win a statewide battle if they aren’t even fighting a university-sized scuffle? This is only one example, but you can pick and choose nearly any topic on either side and see how our campus political groups are not doing anything about them at this university.

The debate amounted to little more than political piffle. There are substantive issues campus political groups can, and should, take on to make a difference in their campus community ? and by extension, the larger issues of politics and parties.

However, until they choose to take action and become student leaders, our campus political groups will continue to become just a mouthpiece for their national parties, thoughtless and obedient, and will continue to become more and more irrelevant.

Aaron McKean

UW senior, agriculture and applied economics

[email protected]

First and foremost, I would like to commend The Badger Herald for hosting the debate between the College Republicans and the College Democrats. The format was well-planned and both Oliver Kiefer and Sara Mikolajczak did a good job of articulating their respective parties? stances on several very divisive issue. Events like this are sorely needed on campus in order to spark and maintain interest in the democratic process, especially at a time when politics is taking center stage in the form of the 2008 presidential election process.

After attending the debate, I do, however, question one of the choices professor Donald Downs made as moderator. At several points it appeared that he forgot he was playing the role of non-partisan moderator. Following Ms. Mikolajczak?s response to a question on the ?Wisconsin Marriage Protection Amendment? (known more commonly as the gay marriage ban), Mr. Downs asked her how she personally voted on the amendment. I found this to be highly unprofessional for this venue. The debate was billed as the College Republicans vs. the College Democrats. The chair of each group was there to represent their organizations and parties as a whole, not to provide information about their personal voting record.

While I must admit that Mr. Downs did offer some insightful follow-up questions, I feel that his contribution was overshadowed by several of his comments, which seemed to be worded more with an intent to show he could confuse and ?one-up? the debaters rather than clarify their parties? positions.

Again, I commend the Herald for hosting this debate and hope that it starts a trend of events advocating open political discussion.

Justin Rabbach

UW junior, economics and social welfare

[email protected]

As much as I enjoyed seeing Oliver Kiefer wallop Sara Mikolajczak on Tuesday evening, I can’t say I was incredibly pleased with the debate format. Unfortunately, it was so well-organized and flawlessly executed that it seemed to put a damper on all the bubbling emotion I felt in the audience. Why relegate our input to a few 3×5 notecards, particularly when the Republican representative was so ill-prepared and inarticulate? The debate could have been much more thrilling had Republican rebuttals been characterized by anything more than snarky looks and evasive answers. Next time, let’s open the floor up to the audience; let’s allow cheers and boos and the calling of bullshit when necessary.

But maybe that was the reason for the design all along. I can hardly believe that the College Republicans would agree to a debate where their representative would be forced to own up to her simpering, say-nothing opinions and the blatant hypocrisy of her supposed ?Christian, moral? stance on homosexuality. I guess those morals only apply in the sanctity of marriage and not during drunken weekends.

Mallory Warner

UW junior, anthropology

[email protected]

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