Democrats and Republicans debate Obama's legacy

Members of the Baruch College Democrats and Baruch College Republicans came together to discuss the key issues the U.S. government faced during former President Barack Obama’s time in office. Among the key topics of discussion were health care, foreign policy and immigration, each of which stirred controversial dialogue and heated exchange. The event, titled “A Discussion on President Obama’s Legacy,” took place on May 11.

A total of three moderators from both political clubs led the discussion. Rahul Bakshi, a board member of the Baruch College Republicans, also known as the Right Wings, began by providing background information on the 44th U.S. president. He iterated facts about Obama, such as the number of terms he held the office, educational background and daughters’ names.

After, the Baruch College Democrats’ Vice President Isik Basarir, put forth the topic of health care. Specifically, participants chose to focus on the implementation of the former president’s health care law and universal health care coverage.

At first, the room was silent; nobody would speak up and the moderators attempted to make direct eye contact with some of the attendees. Then one attendee made the opening comment, which discussed how Obama’s original health care initiative was destined for failure from the start. This prompted several comments from other attendees, who began to delve into the pros and cons of Obamacare.

In response to the first speaker, one attendee explained that Obamacare provides necessary health care coverage for those who never received health insurance in the first place.

Others chimed in and said that Obamacare was costly and deterred U.S. citizens from purchasing health insurance instead of its original purpose.

Following the discussion, Basarir addressed the group and asked why Republicans did not push for an alternative solution that would guarantee health care as a basic right.

Several developed countries maintain health care as a basic right for all their citizens, but the United States is consistently split about the issue.

The moderators had to cut the discussion short due to time and heated responses.

The topic of foreign policy also generated heated discussion from the attendees.

Mostly, it appeared that the room was split into two sides: the first asked why the U.S. government should give countries the right to obtain nuclear weaponry and the second asked why countries, such as China, Russia and the United States, are automatically granted the right to nuclear arms without repercussion or dismissal.

Both questions opened up a dialogue in which students spoke about ideology and governance. Some students said that Iran, for example, whose government operates according to a theocratic regime, is not necessarily rational due to the fact that “everything can go in religion.”

Other students were more deliberate with their words and chose to carefully express their thoughts about ideology by elevating and referring to a nation’s previous history, rather than the group of people who run that nation.

The discussion eventually spun off into intervention. Eric Butkiewicz, one of the attendees and a member of the Right Wings, made a point about U.S. interventions when some nations consider or opt to purchase nuclear weapons. His comment faced rebuttal because “purchasing and building are two completely separate things,” one student said.

Jake Gellerstein, president of the Baruch College Democrats, said he thought the environment was lively and entertaining.

“It was really great to see so many people passionate about politics and what’s going on in the world,” he said.

Ahsan Ahmed, one of the attendees, added to Gellerstein, saying that the group had clarity and understanding. He especially liked “seeing that nobody got too emotional and that several [Democrats] and Republicans came on [sic] terms.”

Though the event’s title implied that the highlight of the event would be Obama’s legacy, Basarir jokingly commented that the participants had gotten too wrapped up in the key points and they did not have time to tie each point back to Obama’s legacy.