College Democrats and College Republicans Debate As Midterms Loom

Boston College’s College Democrats and College Republicans faced off in a debate hosted by the Eagle Political Society (EPS) on Tuesday. The contentious debate took place just weeks before the high-stakes midterm elections.

The president of EPS, Zach Lynch, MCAS ’20, expressed dismay at the increased divisiveness and politicization that are occurring in the realm of politics.

“Hyper-partisanship has come to rule the roost and personality has, kind of, come to the fore over policy in many respects,” he said. “The purpose of tonight is to try and reverse that trend so that we can recenter the debate on the issues that matter.”

The first question of the night was directed to the Republicans, asking what they believed was wrong with health care in the United States. Dan Moyer, MCAS ’20, fielded the question, calling for a free market health care system. In the response by Democrats, Clint Keaveny, MCAS ’19, came out on the attack, characterizing the current health care system as an immoral and inefficient system.

“We just can’t afford those treatments unless you’re wealthy,” he said. “They talk about America first, that’s not America first.”

Keaveny continued talking after his time ran out, speaking over the pounding of the gavel and the objections of EPS. The Republicans then demanded a rebuttal, which they were eventually granted after pointing out that the Democrats had gone over time.

The debate become even more combative when the topic turned to abortion. The College Democrats called for Roe v. Wade to be codified into state law. The Republicans at first gave a careful response to the sensitive subject, using arguments based on the legality of the issue rather than concentrating on the morality issues surrounding the controversial Supreme Court decision.

In the Democratic rebuttal, however, Gabby Kastrunes, MCAS ’22, brought up her concerns over the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kastrunes was interrupted several times during her rebuttal by Christian Guma, CSOM ’21, of the College Republicans.

Kastrunes brought up that Kavanaugh had called birth control pills abortion pills, at which point Guma interrupted her. A heated back-and-forth began between several different members of both clubs as the Eagle Political Society struggled to regain control over the debate. The Republicans claimed Kavanaugh’s comment was taken out of context. One of the College Democrats called this a familiar response, referring to the infamous Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape.

The debate continued devolving into chaos, with a shouting match occurring between the two clubs over the rights of a fetus. The moderators paused the debate to warn both sides to be civil.

“The purpose is to try and engage in a civil debate and try and talk to the people about what is going on and we can’t do that if we’re talking over each other,” said Harry Wang, MCAS ’19, of EPS.

One of the more memorable parts of the debate was when the sides turned to the topic of taxes. The College Republicans gave a measured response, expressing concern about the stability of an economy that places high taxes on the rich to fund social programs.

“When you’re taking out taxes from the people at the top, they’re creating jobs at the bottom, and that helps middle class families, that helps poor people,” said Luis Duran, MCAS ’21.

The College Democrats characterized Republicans as greedy liars who have manipulated the country into thinking they are the party of fiscal responsibility.

“They’ve acted in the direct opposite of their goal,” Keaveny said. “They say they want to reduce deficits? No, they fought tooth and nail to pass the tax cut that ballooned the deficit. No, they’re not the party of fiscal responsibility, they’re the party of rich people.”

Another College Democrat criticized the Republican party for being neither fiscally conservative nor fiscally responsible, due to lowering tax rates while raising spending levels.

The two sides appeared to find common ground on the issue of universal higher education. The Democrats argued that everyone should have access to higher education, but it should only be free for those who can’t afford it. Additionally, access to vocational schools and community college should be expanded.

“You know, I think we agree on something,” Duran said.

The moment of agreement did not last long, however. Keaveny responded with a brazen criticism of the Republican Party.

“I do hope you guys agree, but I’d like to point out that your party as a whole doesn’t agree,” said Keaveny, as the rest of his response was drowned out by the groans of the audience and the objections of the moderators.

Correction (10/29/18, 6:54 p.m.): Luis Duran was initially referred to, incorrectly, as Carlos Duran in this article.

Featured Image by Katie Genirs / Heights Editor