First Progressives vs. Republicans Debate Offers Spirited Discussion

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The Chamberlain Student Center held its “Republicans vs. Progressives Debate” on Nov. 1.

The moderator, the Whit’s Multimedia Editor Nick Feldman, began the debate by introducing each team and a brief background of the first issue of the night: abortion. The first question was on the basis of the constitutionality of the Texas Abortion Law. 

The Rowan Republicans claimed upfront that their main focus is the livelihood of the fetus. They believe in allowing abortions up to 22 to 24 weeks during the pregnancy in instances of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk. They also note that babies have the right to life because it cannot support its life from inside or outside the womb. 

In turn, Rowan Progressives address the Texas legislation, clarifying it is a total abortion ban with extreme consequences. The technicality of what is considered a baby was largely debated throughout the first section. 

As for the Republicans, a baby is from conception, whereas the Progressives argue it is a fetus until born. The Republicans reply in their first rebuttal that the Texas Abortion Ban “does not apply” to their argument of viability, adding the button to their statement: “it’s a baby.” 

Next, Rowan Republicans were asked if they would support Jack Ciatarelli’s policy to add Roe v. Wade it to the state constitution if it was overturned by the Supreme Court. Rowan Republicans agree with allowing abortions until week 22. 

Later, Rowan Progressives members quoted statistics to add context to the fractured foster care system in America, earning the first applause from the audience of the night. A member of the Republican team asks, “you would kill a baby rather than fix the system?” 

The moderator asks the Rowan Progressives what protections regarding women’s rights, specifically reproductive health, would they like implemented in the legislature. Their response: free healthcare for all. They also support reinstating the protections from Roe V. Wade, if it were overturned by the Supreme Court. 

The Republicans’ counterargument is that the mother’s and the fetus’ health are important regarding abortions. The two parties go on to debate the dependency of a fetus and a baby. The Progressives argued that a baby outside of the womb has the capability to do things on its own. 

The topic for the second round was healthcare. Feldman asked what each team’s idealistic healthcare system would look like and how to make it more cost-effective. The Republicans confess the healthcare system is poorly functioning but their solution is to decrease regulation on healthcare systems which would increase competition and lower prices. 

The Progressives disagree that competition would be beneficial and explain the benefits of Medicare for All, including no networks, premiums, or copays. The Progressives see this as a choice of maximizing profit or maximizing health, whereas the Republicans want more free markets. 

This section was ended by a Republican team member’s tangent on Bernie Sanders which was ended by the moderator to move on to the next question. 

The Rowan Progressives continue to discuss increasing drug prices by noting the exorbitant highs of prescription drugs. One Rowan Republican member used an invalid fact about Martin Shkreli’s, a hedge fund manager responsible for the exorbitant price of AIDS medication, imprisonment. 

The second section ends with the Progressives restating their original statement of healthcare for all and the Republicans lastly stating that the system “has its flaws, but can be fixed.” This section of the debate is marked by strong performances by both sides, using strong, intelligent, and fact-based arguments.

The next section of the debate covered the ideals of socialism versus capitalism. The four questions pertained to large-scale economic disruptions, free college, income inequality and climate policy.  This was followed by the final part of the debate which incorporated questions from Rowan students. The first being how each party viewed Rowan’s current mask and vaccine mandate, as well as how they would alter it unless they were unopposed.

The Republicans stated that masks should not be needed to wear inside because Rowan has an “82.5% vaccination rate amongst students and 92% vaccination rate amongst staff.” The Progressives state that Rowan does not exist within a bubble and still needs to protect itself and Glassboro from outside sources where COVID-19 could still be contracted. 

It was a feat for both the Rowan Republicans and the Rowan Progressives to organize their first debate. In the end, Feldman reminded the audience to vote in the election the next day and both teams shook hands.

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