Members of GW College Democrats and GW College Republicans took part in a public debate in the University Student Center Wednesday.
The participants, two per side, debated numerous issues including the economy and solutions to inflation, immigration reform and transgender athletes in sports. About 200 people attended the debate, which was moderated by GW Hatchet podcast hosts Eddie Herzig and Sejal Govindarao, marking the first time The Hatchet moderated a debate between the two organizations.
Ethan Kerr – a sophomore studying economics and political science and the political director for the D.C. College Democrats – said it should be easier to become a citizen of the United States and to vote.
“So that path to citizenship would allow, if you are actively in the military, which plenty of undocumented people are, you should be able, if you’re fighting for this country, you should become a citizen,” said Kerr. “If you’ve lived here for the majority of [your] life, you’ve fully immigrated here, you should become a citizen. This should not take 15-20 years for you to become a citizen.”
Kerr said more extensive gun legislation should be implemented to help curb the rise of gun violence throughout the country.
“In my home state of Massachusetts, we have an extreme, strict gun regulation,” Kerr said. “And yet you see no school shootings, mass school shootings have not happened in Massachusetts.”
Jackson Hoppe, a sophomore studying political science and marketing who serves as the director of public relations for College Republicans, said progressive criminal justice reform, like laws in place in San Francisco and Portland, Ore. have been ineffective.
“What we have right now, it’s a travesty because what we’re seeing is these weak-on-crime prosecutors and judges who are refusing to keep these violent criminals locked up,” Hoppe said.
Jack Elbaum, a junior studying international affairs and economics who currently serves as secretary of College Republicans, said that the biggest issue that Americans face is that of education after the pandemic.
“The biggest issue facing Americans today is education, after prolonged school closures advocated by unions and then enacted by Democrats,” Elbaum said. “According to McKinsey & Company, we’ve actually seen kids fall behind five months in math and four months in reading.”
Elbaum also said rising inflation should be curbed by a reduction in government spending, rather than legislation that attempts to drop prices.
“Rather than put big spending policies into place, whether it be the American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, all which increase spending and put upward pressure on prices,” Elbaum said. “When it comes to energy, we want to incentivize and encourage oil producers to produce more so that gas prices can come down. When it comes to housing, we want to encourage people and permit the new construction of high-density housing, in order to, like I said before, increase supply and push down prices.”
Maria Leon-Acosta, a senior studying international affairs and a general body member of College Democrats, criticized Govs. Greg Abbott, R-Tex., and Ron DeSantis’, R-Fla., bussing and flying of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. and the District, a move that many criticize as a political stunt that doesn’t address the issue of migrants at the border.
“I’m sorry, but this is something that should be condemned whether you’re on the left or whether you’re on the right,” Leon-Acosta said. “This is a human rights issue, it’s not a political issue whatsoever. “
At the end of the debate, the moderators asked the participants to say something positive about the opposition. After the other three debaters gave their remarks, Leon-Acosta noted her firm stance against the actions of the Republican Party.
“I respect individuals within the Republican Party, and I respect Republican individuals like both of you,” Leon-Acosta said. “But with that being said, I frankly do not feel comfortable saying anything positive about the party leadership, or the elected officials of a party that, by and large, bends to the will of a fascist.”