Tuesday, October 11th saw the first of four student-lead political forums held on John Brown University’s campus. The forum, organized and moderated by Jackson Love, junior engineering major, focused on economic policies of the two opposing political parties.
“I believe it’s important for students to know how to process their opinions [and] how to keep an open mind for others opinions,” Love said.
Love’s goals for these events were for the major political clubs on campus, the Young Democrats and the College of Republicans, to speak on the policies which the two parties hold, show what civil debate looks like, and encourage students to be involved and learn about politics. As Phillip Todd, senior international business major, recently said, one of the goals of the College of Republicans is to “educate and inform.” This goal is shared by the Young Democrats. These forums seek to do just that.
The forums include both prepared questions and topics by Love and time for the audience to be involved and ask questions. Love called it “The Gathering with political topics.”
The first three forums would solely focus on ideological questions and policies and the fourth would be candidate-focused. The first forum covered topics of trickle down economics, market growth, tax rates, the problem of poverty, inflation, minimum wage and unemployment. The College of Republicans was represented by Phillip Todd, Caitlin King and Cole Mowrer, and the Young Democrats was represented by Allan Aguilar, Julia Swanson and Timothy Merrill.
Some marked that the differences between Love’s forum and the political debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the lack of ad hominem attacks and the positive feedback from those in attendance afterward. Though there were disagreements between the representative parties, each side remained respectful. This met Love’s goal, as he said “I want people to be proud of their opinions but also listen to others.”
President Obama’s effect on the American economic system was explored, among many things. The Republican side argued that the economic growth was inevitable as part of the natural ebb and flow of the system whereas the Democrats pointed out the success of his policies.
An issue thoroughly examined was Seattle’s experiment in raising minimum wage to a living wage. The College of Republicans asserted that this incident had disastrous results. However, the Young Democrats countered that by speaking of the impossibility of living off of the current minimum wage.
College of Republicans, Phillip Todd proposed “enduring short-term pain for long term benefits.”
Young Democrat representative Julia Swanson questioned “How are you going to respond to the families who can’t pay rent?” Saying that if employers cannot afford to pay their workers, perhaps they cannot afford to be a business.
Love stated the importance of these forums as a place where students can both get involved and learn how to express their ideas. The tentative dates for the second and third forums are October 20th which will cover social issues such as racism and abortion and October 26th which will be focused on foreign policy. The date of the fourth forum which will cover candidates has yet to be determined, Love said, it will be before November 8th.