Taking a stance
Students represent candidates in YAL hosted debate
The Liberty University branch of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) held a student-run presidential debate forum with five candidates represented Tuesday, Oct. 25.
The students who characterized their candidates were tasked with articulating the nominee’s stances on pertinent topics the moderators brought up, such as national security and health care.
Of the candidates involved, McKinley Cardwell represented Democrat Hillary Clinton, Aaron Sobczak represented Libertarian Gary Johnson, Andy Knudsen represented independent runner Evan McMullin, Allie Childers represented the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Josh Rosene represented Republican Donald Trump.
The director of the YAL branch at Liberty, Timothy Magee, said the group has been planning this event since
“We wanted the students to be able to see the full range of candidates, and we wanted to promote discussion among the students about the different candidates,” Magee said.
“We wanted them to see where the candidates stand on the issues, which is often lost in the actual debates.”
The debate touched on a variety of topics and policies, with the audience getting heated and rowdy throughout.
One of the topics with the most diverse answers was on abortion.
Sobczak received the question first, saying Johnson believes abortion laws should be up to the states and not enforced by the government.
He followed that up by saying Johnson wants to repeal Roe v Wade.
Knudsen received the question next, saying McMullin believes abortion is and and not enforced by the federal government.
He followed by saying Johnson wants to repeal Roe v. Wade.
Knudsen received the question next, saying McMullin believes abortion is morally and religiously wrong and that the federal government should not fund abortion in any way.
Cardwell said Clinton is fully in favor of abortion, and apart from Clinton, he doesn’t believe in imposing his religious beliefs on those that have the responsibility of bearing a child.
Rosene answered next, saying that Trump is opposed to abortion and illustrated why he believes abortion is morally wrong.
“I want to pose the question: If we are going to terminate a life, or say its okay to terminate a life before it can survive outside of the womb, with or without help, why wouldn’t we do it on the other side of the spectrum?,” Rosene asked.
“Should 90 year olds who can’t survive outside of the nursing home, should we just go ahead and kill them? I mean, they’re a burden to society, aren’t they? You’ve got to go both ways on that.”
Childers then gave Stein’s side of the debate, saying that while Stein is pro-choice, she also believes in improving sexual education to prevent unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place.
“As the only person up here with a uterus, I feel like I can speak a little more to this,” Childers said. “Jill Stein, as well as myself actually, are pro-choice with the belief that choice also means the choice to not get pregnant.”
Another controversial issue was gun control.
Knudsen, representing McMullin, said gun control is a negative thing and that America needs to treat the root cause of mass shootings like depression and psychological disorders instead.
Cardwell answered next for Clinton, stating the importance of promoting gun control and closing the Charleston Loophole — the National Criminal Background Check System’s loophole that allowed Dylan Roof to buy a gun and murder nine church members in Charleston, North Carolina June 17, 2015.
Rosene covered Trump’s policies on minimizing gun control, claiming that all recent mass shootings occurred in gun-free zones.
Childers said Stein’s policies support increasing background checks, implementing psychological exams and tracking gun owners.
“The issue of gun control is it’s basically saying, ‘Let’s be smart about this,’” Childers said.
“Let’s keep in mind when we’re selling someone this that it is an item that has the ability to take someone’s life relatively quickly.”
Sobczak said Johnson is very pro-gun and opposes almost all bans or regulations, saying they are unconstitutional.
“You have to have due process to take away someone’s rights, and without the due process, the whole country can go down a slippery slope into tyranny where someone could take away anyone’s right for any reason,” Sobczak said.
There was an intermission in the middle of the questions, where Doug Stephens, representing unconventional candidate, Vermin Supreme, presented the boot-donning nominee’s take on some of the major issues.
Stephens brought a light and satirical tone to Supreme’s programs, reviewing his asinine policies in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
“We’ll be instituting a new lifeguard program expressly for the use of the Silicon Valley and Wall Street constituencies,” Stephens said.
“This initiative … will place a lifeguard at every Scrooge McDuck-like pool of money to prevent drowning accidents.
The mainstream media doesn’t report on them, but they happen, and it’s just unacceptable.”
The candidates answered 10 questions throughout the debate, which ran over two and a half hours.
Some of the students, like Cardwell, were taking positions unpopular to Christian conservatives during the debate, but they stood by their candidate.
“I knew Hillary Clinton was not going to get a fair shake here at Liberty University, and I thought to myself, I’m very moderate in my views, but I was a former liberal, and so I decided you know what — let’s argue for policy,” Cardwell said.
“Let’s argue for the right reasons, not just to throw insults.”
Sobczak believes representing Johnson in the debate cleared up some issues that students had with the third party candidate.
“I think that with the huge Trump presence on campus, he’s been belittled,” Sobczak said.
“He’s been misrepresented, and his views have been lied about. This definitely cleared some things up.”
Many of the third party representatives, like Knudsen, believe in voting their conscience, regardless of the odds of winning.
“I think (McMullin) represents conservative ideals the best, and he has the character that I think I can trust to lead our country,” Knudsen said.
“People don’t think that he can win, and that is a drawback, but the question is if you want to vote for someone who is going to win or you want to vote for who you believe in.”
Childers debated on Stein’s behalf because of her faith in the candidate.
“I really, honestly, don’t think that she has an agenda,” Childers said.
“She has spent her entire life working for the American people, even outside of political office.
When she has no motive to do so other than caring, she still fought for people’s rights, and she fought for the same things that she’s fighting for today.”
Rosene participated in the debates in an attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions he believes are attached to Trump.
“I would like students here to see the real side of Donald Trump and not the media side of Donald Trump,” Rosene said.
After the debate, YAL posted a poll on Facebook for the attendees to determine who won the debate. Supreme, represented by Stephens, blew away the competition with 33 votes.
The second highest was Sobczak’s arguments for Johnson with 19 votes.
Panyard is a news reporter.