Students Debate the Use of Culture War Issues in Election Strategies

April 08, 2009

Nathan Trimboli and Carly Skidmore with Dr. Santosh SahaMount Union College held a Student Debate on Tuesday, March 31. The topic was “Resolved: that Election Strategies that Focus Primarily on Culture War Issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) should be discontinued.”

John Frazier, vice president for student affairs and dean of students  presented the introduction. Freshman Amanda Thomas provided the opening song. Lee Gray, professor of geology, served as the moderator for the debate.

Carly Skidmore, a senior international studies major and French and philosophy minor, and Nathan Trimboli, a freshman political science major, argued against the issue. They claimed that moral values are significant in the political process. Gurpreet Singh, a junior information systems major and mathematics minor, argued for the issues. He argued that cultural issues should  be outside the political debate.

The debate began with Skidmore presenting her argument against the issue. She claimed that the political process is dependent on cultural issues. She also talked about culture being one of the ideals of the American Dream and democracy.

Singh proceeded in the debate presenting his reasons for the resolution. He started with a quote from Machiavelli, “Politics have no relationship to morals.” Singh presented four problems brought up by cultural issues being included in the election process: 1.) Sorting of American people 2.) Bitter and harsh campaigns 3.) Decline of bipartisanship in Congress and 4.) People dividing themselves according to culture (beliefs and heritage). “We should discontinue culture wars in order to face other problems,” said Singh.

Trimboli presented his ideas against the issue last. “Everyone wants a President that they can relate to. How do you know if they don’t talk about cultural issues,” said Trimboli. He argued that these issues can’t be pushed aside. “People align themselves with a candidate they share beliefs with,” said Trimboli.

After this part of the debate, a cross-examination took place. The participants asked each other questions and the audience asked the participants questions as well.

James Thoma, associate dean of the College and professor of human performance and sport business, presented the cash prizes and certificates. Skidmore received first place honors, followed by Singh and Trimboli.

Santosh Saha, professor of history, was the coordinator of the event as he has been for numerous years. Rodney Dick, assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center, served as the Chief Scorer and Judge. Other judges were Theresa Davis, instructor of history, Fendrich Clark, assistant professor of communication, Michael Myler, professor of economics, accounting and business administration and William Cunion, assistant professor of political science and Chair of the Department of Political Science.

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