By Sara Karlovitch
This university’s chapter of both the College Republicans and the Young Americans for Liberty came together to discuss conservative ideas in a debate held by Maryland Discourse March 15.
Each organization had three members debate topics such as immigration, the war on drugs and trade. Maryland Discourse monitored the debate, which not only offered more conservative students a place to exchange ideas on a left-leaning campus, it also informed students on the finer points of an opposing political ideology.
Savanna Wright, a sophomore microbiology major and an at-large board member of Maryland Discourse said the debate was unique because they usually don’t have two sides with such similar ideologies debating one another.
“We’ve had a lot of debates between the College Republicans in the College Democrats. So we wanted to do something a little different this time by kind of taking two more right-leaning groups traditionally and having them talk about their differences, similarities … we thought it’d be interesting to pair them together,” Wright said.
The two groups did have ideas in common, like reducing taxes and entitlements, but differed in opinion in areas like immigration reform and drug legalization.
When it came to drug legalization, the College Republicans expressed support of marijuana legalization, while keeping harder drugs, like cocaine, illegal. The Young American for Liberty suggested a more liberal approach, saying that the war on drugs has done more harm than good, and steps should be taken towards legalization.
The biggest area of difference was immigration. The College Republicans favored a restricted immigration system, while the Libertarians favored a more open immigration system, arguing that the United States wasn’t letting enough people into the country.
Steven Clark, a junior government and politics major and the president of the College Republicans said this difference of opinion was the big takeaway of the night.
“There are some people that believe the libertarians are just further to the right than Republicans. That’s not necessarily true,” Clark said. “So I think people got to know a lot more about the Libertarian Party, which in turn they get to know more about the Republican Party and what are differences truly are.”
Yusuf Mahmood, a junior economics and philosophy major, said it’s important to be exposed to different political ideologies directly in order to understand them better.
“When we hear about political ideologies filtered through media, such as what our own tribe says about the ideology, we don’t actually get an understanding of what they believed, but when we hear from the people themselves … we’ll get a much more honest version of what the people who believe in these ideologies believe and why they believe in those things,” Mahmood said.
Rosie Wilson, a sophomore environmental science and policy major and a member of the College Republicans said being able to share ideas openly and understand the other side can go beyond college and into professional life.
“It’s important for us to hear from them and then to hear it from us so that we can really understand the other side better,” Wilson said. “By having that open flow of communication, it makes it easier and we have a stronger time crafting policies together.I think that transcends just the college experience. I think if people higher up could do it too, then things would be better in politics.”
Featured Photo Credit: The Libertarians and Republicans at this university held a debate to discuss various topics. (Sara Karlovitch/Bloc Reporter)
Sara Karlovitch is a sophomore journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.