Democrats and Republicans came together to see the debate on Oct. 27, when the Alumni Lecture Series hosted Howard Dean and Jeb Bush in the Student Union Ballroom at Northern Kentucky University.
Moderated by Clyde Gray of WCPO-TV Channel 9 News, questions arose from the audience as people wrote on comment cards. Questions ranged from hard-hitting dialogues concerning the national deficit to humorous comments about political satire.
Gray began the night by asking the politicians about the Tea Party, which has recently gained popularity in America. Gray called the question a “political Rorschach test” and referred to it as throwing “blood in the water” to ask a question about the Tea Party so early.
“It’s a good thing when people take their constitutional rights in their own hands,” said Dean, former chairman for the Democratic National Committee. “I do appreciate their energy, their commitment to the process and their belief in the process.”
Bush, former governor of Florida and brother of former President George W. Bush, expressed a positive opinion of the grassroots movement.
“I feel very comfortable with people who believe in limited government,” he said.
Much of the night was devoted to speaking on health care. Dean said individual Americans need to have a choice of where they get their medical care, be it from Medicare, Veterans Affairs or the private sector.
Bush stated that Americans need to be healthier.
“There should be more incentives for people to be more engaged in their health care decisions,” he said.
A question that has bearing on college students today asked what issue the politicians could agree on so that students can get jobs after graduation. Dean and Bush both agreed that America needs to reevaluate energy policy in order to stimulate the economy. According to Dean, we need to stop being dependent on outside resources and find common ground between the parties in pursuit of exploitation of our own resources. Bush agreed, and said that ethanol was a big step forward.
Another hot topic of the night was homosexuality as it relates to both parties. While both men agreed that if they had a homosexual child they would try to eliminate all discrimination and accept the child socially, Dean incited a round of excited applause when he said: “People don’t prefer to be gay: they are gay.” That subject is one that has sparked disagreement between the supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people and contenders.
The serious tone of the evening broke several times as the debaters cracked jokes at each other and their own expense, but when Gray asked the final question about political satire, the atmosphere of the room was infused with levity. Dean mentioned that he had been the brunt of a joke 695 times in one week, “But who’s counting?” he laughed. The men agreed that it is important to laugh at their differences.
Attending students got a chance to see representatives from both parties disagree and agree on many different subjects. Andrew Woods, an undeclared freshman who attended the event, expressed surprise at how much he agreed with Dean.
“I’m a Republican,” he said. “But I agreed with half the points that Dean made.”
This was the 11th annual lecture for the Alumni Lecture Series. More information about the Alumni organization and its programs can be found at their website: http://alumniconnect.nku.edu/.
Story by Elizabeth Parsons