On Thursday November 1st 2012, the International University Clubs of Toronto (IUCT) hosted a debate on whether or not Mitt Romney should be the next president of the United States. In favour of Romney were author and lawyer Michael Alexander and CTV reporter Mercedes Stephenson, and arguing against were University of Toronto Professor Richard Simeon and author and lawyer Philip Slayton. The moderator of the debate was Vice President of Toronto Star and Star Media Group Edward Greenspon (who sits on the SPPG Advisory Board).
Alexander argued that there are popular misconceptions regarding Obama’s presidential policies. Not only did Obama not solve the health care crisis, he also didn’t clean up Wall Street. Instead, his government realized “they didn’t have enough capital to reform the financial system, so instead they just let Wall Street win”. Unlike Obama, Alexander agued, Romney could balance and restore the budget within the next 5 years. He would focus on tax cuts across the border while advocating for further social security. Obama on the other hand, should have focused the budget on further infrastructure spending, which would help boost the economy further and more efficiently. He concluded that from the standpoint of togetherness and partisanship, Romney could get America “back on track”.
Stephenson focused her arguments around Obama’s foreign policy decisions. She argued that his positions have not been remarkably different from those from George W. Bush’s presidency. From his lack of acknowledgment of the protestors of Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution to his hasty support of the radical and arguably extremist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he has proven himself to be at times relentless. Guantanamo Bay is still intact, and Americans died in Benghazi due to poor security provided by the State Government despite signs of hostility. Stephenson concluded her argument by stating that the Americans need a President whose words will coincide with his actions, and at least we know that Romney is heading in such a direction.
In his support for a second term for President Obama, Professor Simeon argued that on many different levels Obama has proved that he came to the rescue in 2009. He entered a very disintegrated and chaotic administration, with a failed auto-industry, a massive financial crisis, millions of unemployed citizens, two wars being prosecuted, and a deeply divided political nation. Since then, he has saved the auto industry, helped save financial industries, promoted university research programs, increased budget for educational loans, and most importantly is a constant advocate for a more bonded and together nation. The question is: would Romney, a strong supporter of the liberal and individualist way of governance, help continue the improvements that are in progress, or more importantly, take the developments of the past 4 years away?
Slayton focused on the potential foreign policy tactics of a Romney cabinet. From his visit to the United Kingdom to Israel, Mitt Romney has proven foreign relations are not his forté. He managed to offend the nation and the Prime Minister of the UK, one of United States’ closest and most valuable allies. In Israel, he offended Palestinians by suggesting that cultural forums were the root for the Israeli economy being stronger than that of Palestine’s, and also upset Israelis by hosting a dinner on a Jewish day of fasting. Such outcomes make his capability of negotiating with other more problematic nations questionable, which is an essential requirement from the president of the world’s most powerful nation. Furthermore, he argued that Romney redundantly proposes that he will reduce taxes, but there are no specific plans stated as to how he intends on accomplishing such goals. Romney has an individualistic and elitist approach to governance, as proven by his statement disregarding the 47% of Americans that “aren’t his responsibility”, and thus should not be the next president of the United States.
The debate concluded with a few brief counter arguments. The Obama side argued that the Romney speakers extensively criticized Obama’s policies but failed yet again to propose decent and detailed support for Romney’s plans for the future of the nation. The Romney supporters declared Obama to have a socialist agenda with poor skills regarding foreign policy and national security.
Which team of debaters will see their preferred candidate sit as the next president of the United States? We’ll find out tonight.
Mana Sadeghipour is a 3rd year U of T student attaining an HBA in Political Science. Mana is also the Social Media Coordinator Assistant to the Manager of Engagement at SPPG. Her previous positions include Photographer at the Soldier’s Tower and the University College Literary and Athletic Society. Her interests include photography, political theory, and nation building. She plans on entering SPPG following her undergraduate degree.