The Great Debate: ASK Academy’s Talking Heads

September 17, 2015


Cartoon by Marisa Archuleta Liberal debater Quinton Valencia (left) and conservative Robert Dansro tackle various political issues in this monthly column.

Illustration by Marisa Archuleta
Liberal debater Quinton Valencia (left) and conservative Robert Dansro tackle various issues in ASK’s new political column.

Seniors Quinton Valencia and Robert Dansro are two verbose scholars who pride themselves on their debate skills. This year, The Catalyst put them to work as ASK Academy’s first ever political commentators. Each month, they will take a hot button issue and dispute it from their opposing points of view (Dansro tends to lean toward the right, and Valencia to the left). In this month’s column, the Talking Heads tackle GOP candidate Donald Trump’s stance on immigration.

Trump’s Immigration Stance Might Actually Help the GOP

By Robert Dansro

The explosive rise of Donald Trump after last month’s GOP primary debates has him polling around 30% according to Reuters -almost three times higher than any other Republican candidate. Many republicans have expressed dismay at this; specifically at the way Trump is killing off serious policy arguments and turning the GOP primary into a substance-free show. This is a situation far too similar to four years ago during the GOP primaries, which transformed into negative smear campaigns, with very little real policy debate.

The outlook seems gloomy, but let’s take a different perspective on it. Trump’s campaign, contrary to critique, is not lacking substance, just detail. Trump definitely knows what he wants to do, that can be easily seen by his comments in debates and to the press, he has just withheld the ‘how’ part, either because it would hurt his message or because it doesn’t yet exist. Either way, Trump has branded his own kind of politics, Trumpism, which appeals to American greatness, while criticizing established political elitism. The most heated issue thus far has been his stance on immigration, which has been the center of his campaign.

He sums up his immigration stance with three points: He wants a wall across the southern border; He wants the ability to enforce immigration laws; and he wants reformed immigration policy that improves jobs, wages, and security for Americans.

He also wants Mexico to pay for the wall. The thinking behind this is that Mexico, as well as other Latin American countries have been using illegal immigration to export crime and poverty from their countries into the United States. The Mexican government has even published a pamphlet explaining how to illegally enter the United States. The US taxpayers have been credited with billions of dollars spent on healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs, etc. Now, is the Mexican government actually going to pay for the wall? Absolutely not, and Trump knows this; but his goal is to be an extremist candidate in hopes of getting attention over other GOP candidates. This strategy fits perfectly with Trump’s existing crude, clownish, extreme, and politically unrealistic behavior that is appealing to many voters just because it is so different from the status quo.

How is having an extremist and loud candidate leading the GOP primaries good for the party? As long as there is an ideologically flexible person like Trump stretching the definition of extreme to its limits, all the other GOP candidates look more reasonable and collected in comparison. Trump’s immigration plan allows candidates like Marco Rubio and Scott Walker a lot more room to offer realistic immigration solutions.

Obviously, there is the chance that Trump ends up making the entire party look like a bunch of idiots, but it’s also just as likely that Trump’s support dies out due to ideas losing their ‘wow factor,’ and an established candidate will step up and take his place.

Even if Trump does win the nomination, voters have the choice between a billionaire with extreme policy stances or a candidate riddled with scandal who was essentially fired from the Secretary of State position; received bribes from foreign countries through her foundation; and used a private email server for high level government correspondence. The choice is yours.

Trump Alienates Those Not Born on U.S. Soil (and Many Who Were)

By Quinton Valencia

Anyone remember back in 2012 when the decision was between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? People complained about a lack of choice because either option was not particularly impressive. Obama was already a known commodity and many were not impressed with his results at that point. Mitt Romney was less known, and not a strong republican candidate, edging out the likes of Rick Perry. If only people could have foreseen the upcoming elections and its never-ending ridiculousness.

A total of 17 republicans are running in the primary elections, headed by the infamous Donald Trump. Trump has picked up major steam after his interesting take on immigration and various quotes. “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Let us dissect the absurdity of that statement. Imagine the implications of forcing a country to fix a problem that is not their own.  Currently, the United States has a barrier, located in various places along the 2,000 miles of shared border. However, that doesn’t stop immigration, it just poses a risk of these undocumented immigrants injuring themselves trying to scale the wall. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there was a population of about 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2009. How would a larger wall that spans more distance magically lead to less immigration if the current wall is already largely a failure? The entirety of this plan further suggests that Trump has little political ideologies and even less logic. Even if this is a bluff of some sort to distinguish Trump from the lot of republicans, it is too bold, too rash, and would be a foreign diplomacy nightmare.

Mexico is not in rapid decline because of illegal U.S. immigrants, and neither is the U.S., contrary to Trump’s beliefs. Illegal or not, taxes are still paid, they still have to buy items (and thus, contribute to the economy) and they must abide by our countries laws and regulations. Contrary to what Dansro is stating, the absurdity of one candidate cannot (or should not) benefit the other candidates in the party. This is not how a true democracy should work.

Lest we forget, this is a one platform campaign. No one knows what Trump believes outside of his convoluted and twisted  immigration platform. In fact, Trump has changed his mind multiple times on key issues, as seen in this ad released by Jeb Bush showing how Trump has become a Republican very recently. Normally, so much focus would not be on such a candidate, if it were not for his eccentric behavior, and him leading the Republican candidacy.

However, the hype will eventually settle down.  This is the same party that nearly nominated Herman Cain back in 2012, known for his work as the CEO of Godfathers Pizza (not a typo). The Democratic party in general offers a bit more substance, with Bernie Sanders appearing to gradually eclipse the oft-hated Hilary. Walls are not mentioned in either’s immigration policies. In fact, Sanders wishes to ease up citizenship difficulties for undocumented citizens. This makes sense. Allowing immigrants to begin the pathway to citizenship is a more reasonable approach than building a massive, expensive, and likely inefficient wall.

Rather, Trump offers a scapegoat mentality, blaming others for the decline of America. This isn’t 1930s Germany, America is doomed to either fall or rise based off the American people, not a specific minority or ethnicity.

Do you have a topic you would like to see The Talking Heads debate? Or do you have a different view altogether? Create an account and leave it in the comments. (All comments will be moderated and must be respectful, intelligent, and school appropriate.) 

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