While many Americans were casting votes in local elections across the country, Georgetown’s politically active engaged in a spirited debate Tuesday night over the hot-button issues that could decide next year’s presidential contest.
The College Republicans, College Democrats and Hoyas for Liberty debated a range of topics for two hours in McNeir Auditorium. Although the debate began with a formal format, a town hall-style discussion soon ensued as passion bubbled over in the 80-person audience.
Representing the Democrats were Nabeel Zewail (SFS ’15), Shom Mazumder (SFS ’15) and Gabrielle Gold (COL ’14). The Republicans brought Ziad Jawadi (COL ’15), Brandon Rosty (COL ’15) and Katie Bolas (COL ’15) as their contenders.
The clubs debate face-to-face once per semester, although this was the first time that Hoyas for Liberty was included in the event. Reilly Poppert (SFS ’15), Michael Mouch (SFS ’15) and Luke Young (MSB ’15) represented the Libertarian student group.
The debaters for Hoyas for Liberty opposed Obama’s re-election, although they generally sided with the Democrats on most issues. Young opened the debate by clarifying what Hoyas for Liberty stands for.
“When we get to campus, there [are] a lot of us at Georgetown who are interested in politics, and it can be really tempting to pigeonhole ourselves into Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “Hoyas for Liberty formulate our own policies based on reason, and we represent critical judgment on the issues.”
The debaters addressed a range of issues, including the Occupy Wall Street movement, sexual harassment charges facing GOP candidate Herman Cain and the contentious individual mandate of the new healthcare bill.
Audience participation began with a few outbursts from attendees. Moderator E.J. Dionne, a government professor and political columnist for The Washington Post, soon allowed onlookers to interrupt with questions.
“I was surprised by how energetic the audience was,” Zewail said after the debate. “At presidential debates the audience is silent, but the crowd involvement definitely added an interesting element to the debate.”