By Rachael Green
By Rachael Green
Progressive Students for Change held a mock presidential debate on Sept. 30.
Four students, representing the presidential candidates, debated topics such as the economy, foreign policy, and environmental issues.
The debates began with each student giving their opening statements, and afterwards, the candidates answered questions from the audience.
In her opening statement, Dulce Gonzalez, representing John McCain, emphasized the urgency of fixing the economy by passing the bailout plan.
Joshua Landa, acting as Ralph Nader, focused more on environmental solutions and a more limited foreign policy.
Rollin Wilkinson, who was representing Cynthia McKinney, called for an end to bi-partisan politics and wanted third party candidates to be allowed in the major debates.
The student who was supposed to represent Barack Obama was not in attendance, in his place, Rawsheta Foster, a student from the audience, volunteered to speak for him.
Her impromptu opening statement focused on change, improving the country, and securing American citizens.
The Nader and McKinney students advocated pulling out of Iraq immediately and avoiding future wars as much as possible.
The student for McKinney said, “the true way to have national and international security is more peace between countries.”
The McCain representative however, planned to stay in Iraq as long as necessary, and also mentioned a possible war with Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and any other country that appears to be harboring terrorists.
Gonzalez said, “we need to have better security. We don’t want 9/11 to happen again.”
The student representing Obama similarly advocated war with Pakistan and Russia if they continue to pose a threat however, she wants to pull out of Iraq as soon as it is safe.
Since 53 percent of the national budget goes to the military, the McKinney student proposed a cut in unnecessary military expenditures saying, “it’s not reasonable to spend that much on something that isn’t bringing us any revenue back.”
This money could then be used to fund universal healthcare, education and other programs.
Nader’s representative agreed with this, and also wanted to impose a pollution tax on businesses to bring in additional revenue.
The Obama student disagreed with the McKinney student’s claim that too much was being spent on the military, saying, “we need to have funds going to some type of war. We have to secure our country.”
The economy was another big issue at the debates.
When asked by a student from the audience why McCain supports the Bush tax cuts and deregulation, even though they’ve been historically proven to be ineffective, Gonzalez, the McCain representative, said “we need to implement that because we need to have a better economy.”
She also briefly mentioned the need for the bailout plan that was recently negotiated in Congress.
The Nader representative pointed out that his pollution tax would bring in an additional $300 billion in revenue that would benefit the economy.
He also supported the McKinney student’s plan to cut military spending; the cut would be redirected toward helping the economy out of this recession.
In regard to the recent banking crisis, the Nader representative said, “we would adopt a speculation tax which would not allow these companies to make risky investments.”
On the issue of the environment and alternative energy, the representative for McKinney urged a move toward 100 percent green energy as soon as possible.
The Nader student’s plan to promote alternative energy was the pollution tax mentioned earlier.
The primary issue brought up by the Nader and McKinney students was the issue of allowing third party candidates in the major debates for presidential elections. They asked to be given equal coverage in the media as well.
The McCain student showed no opposition to this idea, saying that all they had to do was go through the proper process to be allowed.
The student for Obama, on the other hand, said “it’s up to the American people, who they want to see is who they elect…If they want to let third parties speak, they would let them speak.”
After the questioning came to an end, each candidate had the opportunity to give a closing statement.
McCain’s representative focused on the issue of securing America as the top priority; this meant a victory in Iraq and a possible war with Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and other countries McCain sees as a threat.
Obama’s representative took the opportunity to again advocate the need for change, but didn’t mention any specific plans for achieving this end.
The Nader and McKinney representatives both emphasized the need for third party participation in major debates.
The student for Ralph Nader, said, “as a third party, we offer solutions that should at least be heard by all American citizens.”
The audience was very involved and eager to participate in the discussion amongst the candidates; likewise, the candidates were happy to answer any questions.
Despite the drastic differences of opinion, everyone who participated was open to discussion and willing to listen to opposing viewpoints.