Speech and Debate hosts second annual political panel


Photo by Anna Yuan.

Panelists discuss questions posed by moderators Katherine Sylvester and Daniel Harris at Speech and Debate’s second annual political panel. The discussion covered a wide range of questions, from political polarization in the U.S. to Brexit.

By Anna Yuan, Rebecca Hirsh, and Hannah Feuer

To listen to the highlights from the panel, click the podcast below created by Hannah Feuer and Rebecca Hirsh.

The Speech & Debate team hosted the second annual political panel fundraiser titled “This is America: Political Uncertainty and a Divided Nation” with four journalists and two political professionals Jan. 16 in the auditorium. Speech captain Lindsay Keiser introduced the panel, and debate team president Katherine Sylvester and vice president Daniel Harris moderated the discussion.

The event featured New York Times columnist David Leonhardt, professor of political science at George Washington University Sarah Binder, Millennial Action Project founder Steven Olikara, Colombia’s El Pais political columnist Muni Jensen, Washington Examiner editorial director Hugo Gurdon, and Wall Street Journal editor Aaron Zitner.

The event was split up into three segments: domestic policy, foreign policy and audience questions.

The moderators opened the panel with a question about the current government shutdown and how politicians can address the growing divides.

“We are in a period of intense partisan polarization,” Binder said. “We have what we think of as a messaging war of which party is going to win the public to their side.”

The second portion comprised of questions from other debate team members and the audience. Topics included voter turnout, climate change, Brexit and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Sophomore Ashley Rommel found the discussion to be both interesting and inspiring.

“The panel was a really good way for teens to get more involved in politics and just to learn more information about the issues going on and how we can get involved,” Rommel said. “It was very informative and they were very good people to have on the panel.”

The team raised around $2,000, team sponsor Colin O’Brien said.

Overall, Harris was delighted with the turnout and content of the panel.

I was extremely happy with how the event went,” Harris said. “I felt that our moderators and audience were deeply engaged in the conversation and really wanted to have the discussion we had.”

Katherine Sylvester is an Opinion Editor for the Black & White.