A Message from your Student Body President, Erik Michaels-Ober
The Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates provide a new opportunity for undecided students to compare the candidates side by side, for voters who lean toward a particular candidate to compare his views to their own, and for firmly committed voters to cheer on their preferred candidate. The debates also provide an opportunity for nonvoters to learn more about current American public issues.
The student government sponsored a showing of the first Presidential debate on a large screen in Rangos Ballroom. Many students attended this event and stayed for a discussion afterward. It was one of many political events on campus leading up to the November 2 general election.
The second Presidential debate, which occurred last Friday, was in a town-meeting format in which questions were asked by undecided voters.
Student Pugwash, a nonpartisan student organization that promotes social responsibility in science and technology, sponsored a discussion of the debate, which focused on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research and nuclear proliferation.
Student Pugwash will also be sponsoring a showing of the third and final presidential debate this Wednesday at 9 pm in Doherty 1112. I encourage you to watch and discuss this debate, which will focus on economic and domestic policy.
This past week, I was in Cleveland for the Vice-Presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. Case Western Reserve University invited students from fourteen universities to participate in programs leading up to the debate, including mock Democratic and Republican conventions and a mock Vice-Presidential debate.
This was a great experience to meet student leaders from around the country. It was exciting to see so much political activity surrounding the Vice-Presidential debate, particularly among the youth.
While in Cleveland, I heard historians speak about the significance of political debates. Some of the first debates in American political history occurred in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who were running against each other for an Illinois Senate seat. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but the debates brought him recognition that helped him win the Presidency two years later.
Presidential debates were first broadcast over the radio in 1948, making them accessible to a national audience. The first televised Presidential debate occurred in 1960, between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. This debate demonstrated the importance of image in addition to message: a majority of radio listeners believed that Nixon had outdone Kennedy, while a majority of viewers who watched the debate on television thought Kennedy won.
This year, with such a close presidential race, the debates are particularly important. The candidates? performance in Wednesday?s final debate could prove decisive with the election only three weeks away.
I hope you will watch and decide for yourself which candidate you prefer.