Panelists Discuss Candidates

This story was written by Olivia Obineme, The Towerlight


With the election just two weeks away, anticipation and deliberation of party candidates has become increasingly prevalent on campus.

Which candidates' policies will do the least harm, Republican presidential nominee John McCain's or Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's? That was the question discussed at an event Tuesday in Stephens Hall.

The panel of three individuals includes, Paul McCartney, assistant professor in the political science department, Charles Schmitz, assistant professor in the geography department and James Dorn, professor in the economics department.

"I asked my trusted students who we should have on the panel and they said that assistant professors McCartney and Schmitz were great," Howard Baetjer, full-time lecturer and director of the Political Economic Project organization said. "But I chose Jim Dorn because we are both libertarians and I have a great respect for him."

Each of the panelists had 15 minutes to speak, and then the audience had 30 minutes to ask questions. "I want to give a short answer to the question that is driving this agenda by rephrasing the question as 'Who will do the most harm?" McCartney said, "And the answer is [Republican vice presidential candidate] Sarah Palin."

Even though the audience had a good laugh from McCartney's joke, the event quickly shifted to more serious concerns about the policies of each candidate. McCartney gave a two-sided view, explaining his opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of the policies of each of the candidates focusing on the issues of foreign policy.

"I think it's in many ways more useful to ask the question not whose policies will do the least harm, but who will give us the best chance of fixing the harm that has already been done because right now America has never been more unpopular, historically, than it is right now," McCartney said.

Obama would be the safer choice for the United States. According to McCartney, but "there are good reasons for believing that either candidate can be better than the other."

According to Schmitz, based on the issues concerning the war on terror and the U.S. policy regarding the Middle East, he believed that Obama has not been clear on his policies concerning those issues, "And that scares me," he said.

"The U.S. has made blanket generalizations about the Middle East and what we need are particulars of each state," he said. A key point in his part of the discussion was that there are two different kinds of power: soft power and hard power. McCain prefers hard power, which could be a positive because he will know how to connect with the military; however, "McCain can be too radical. He has a lack of political followers and has a blanket generalization of Islamic extremists, instead of knowing the specific facts," Schmitz said.

On the other hand, to Schmitz, Obama is a politician for soft power, people power; and he is not state-centric. "Obama does not demonize, but he is withdrawn from Iraq which is a big deal and is very unclear on many things, such as military," he said.

From an economic viewpoint, knowing how much each of the candidates' policies is going to cost was the topic Dorn voiced. On education and health issues, Dorn found McCain to be more "market liberal" than Obama. He said that for both issues, McCain would "widen the choices of the American people, as opposed to Obama's more expensive healthcare plan and his uncertainty about his plans on education.

On taxes, another major economic issue, Dorn said that McCain wants a flat tax, which he said makes the rich happy and Obama seeks a progressive tax, which only increases taxes in richer households.

"Taxes ave to go up, but you can't just tax the rich or they will flee," he said.

Organizers were pleased with the events end result.

"I was surprised and delighted that there was such a large turnout," Howard Baetjer, economics professor and director of the Political Economic Project organization, said. Junior international studies major Anna Sykes, assistant director of the organization, helped organized this event, as well. "This event was more of a rich, informative discussion, not ranting about a certain politician," Sykes said
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