Mock Debate engages student body in the presidential election

August Zeidman, Features Editor

On Nov. 3, students poured into the library to watch the mock presidential debate. The mock primary elections held in April of last school year gave insight to the political climate of Schreiber. When it came to the presidential debates, some students took it as a step further by participating in the mock presidential debate.

Since Election Day was on Nov. 8, the Social Studies Honors Society organized the mock debate to incite student involvement in the election. Social studies chair Mr. Lawrence Schultz took it upon himself to plan and moderate the debate.

“Eight years ago in 2008, they did something like this in the school. Now that I’m department chair, I took it upon myself to try something similar.  I wanted to get as many people as possible involved, so I came up with the ideas of teams. You can’t have a democracy without people being informed. I think it’s careless for the school not to inform people about something as important as a presidential campaign,” said Mr. Schultz.

Seniors Dylan Langone and Adam Lyman and junior James Duquette debated for Hillary Clinton, while seniors Cleopatra Myrianthopoulos, Jordan Greenblatt, and Tristan Duarte represented Donald Trump.

Students interested in participating in the mock debate tried out to be one of the representatives for either Trump or Clinton.  Mr. Schultz judged the various auditions and chose which students would be representing the presidential candidates.

“I’ve been interested in the campaign ever since it started and when I heard the announcement I went to the tryout and made it,” said Duquette.

In preparation for the debate, the students researched their respective candidate’s views on economics, domestic policy, and foreign policy.

“I went on my candidate’s website and got a solid basis for her policy,” said Langone. “I found what legislation she had supported in the past and what kind of legislation she would want to support as president.  And to support my point, I looked up relative statistics to show why a particular policy should be implemented.”

The students defended the views of their candidates and the policies that they believed would prevail in the end.  With a large and engaged audience of spectators, the debate began by discussing economic policies.

Lyman, speaking for Clinton on economics, emphasized his candidate’s support for increasing taxes on the wealthy while decreasing tax burdens on Americans closest to the poverty line.  He also advocated for currently existing trade deals that dictate commercial conduct with our allies.  In stark contrast, Myrianthopoulos expressed the deep policy differences between the two candidates.  She voiced Trump’s views of an extreme form of trickle down economics as well as his desire to exit the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Following economics, Langone presented Clinton’s views on foreign policy and Greenblatt echoed Trump’s beliefs.  Speakers argued whether the United States should continue to be involved in NATO and how the government should deal with Syria and China.  Greenblatt supported Trump’s proposal of a somewhat isolationist policy, favoring strong-arm diplomacy in order to encourage our allies to pull their fair share rather than letting the financial burden fall on the United States. He also spoke about standing up to China and seeking reconciliation with Russia in the face of abrasion.  Langone defended Clinton’s stance on maintaining alliances.  However, he put forth a tougher stance towards Russia, such as implementing a no-fly zone in Syria.

“I wanted people to hear both sides because in this election especially there’s been a lot of noise, so this was a great opportunity to present the issues with as few distractions as possible,” said Mr. Schultz.

Finishing up the debate was domestic policy, presented by James Duquette for Clinton and Tristan Duarte for Trump. They spoke on topics such as voting rights, election reform, and social policy.  Duquette debated Clinton’s decision to spend more tax money on welfare programs. On the other hand, Duarte discussed Trump’s pursuit of “America’s Infrastructure First” policy, which entails investments in transportation, clean water, and the electrical grid.

Each speaker was able to give a brief closing statement, summing up the main policies and explaining why their respective candidates should be elected president.

This debate served as an opportunity for students to become politically engaged and informed about the election.  It was a testament to the important role our generation will one day play in politics and society.

“I think it went very well,” said Greenblatt.  “We felt the crowd was both supportive and open-minded towards all of the debaters and their points of view, even when what was being said was different from what they might have believed.  As a debater, it was nice to have a civil political discussion for once, in which both sides put in a lot of work researching each topic and were respectful in disagreements.”