On Friday I went to Debating Society. The motion? This House would vote McCain/Palin.

So we went in knowing that we were going to have a blast.

Now, Exeter has a very Conservative student population (*weeps*), so we were expecting the majority of the audience to vote McC/P, so we were pleasantly surprised when the majority either voted Obama/Biden or abstained. It soon became clear that their reasoning was simple: McCain could be the most incredible candidate, but with Sarah Palin standing beside him nothing can make him vote-able. Which is, of course, fantastic (I only wish that reasoning was more prominent in America too).

So they had two speakers for the proposition, a lecturer and the head of the Exeter Young Conservatives (*shudder*), and two for the opposition, a history lecturer and a student member of the debating society. Sadly, none of the speakers were that brilliant – in fact, the best speaker was the most inexperienced, the student on the opposition. I was sitting there praying that the speakers would be good against McC, and then the first speaker (the lecturer) stood up and said this:

“Now, I would say that we have two incredible people running for the presidency. Indeed, were we talking McCain vs Bush, I think McCain was a very strong candidate, and I’d have voted for him. Obama is a man who can lead the people, but McCain is also great. He is a great MAN. However, Sarah Palin is not, and with McCain being unlikely to live for the full time as President, we would most likely end up with that woman in charge of America.”
I mean, where to begin? Clearly he didn’t really think that Obama was the way forward. He basically argued that McCain was better, more experienced, just old. Clearly he thought that being male was necessary for being a good President. Clearly he thought that older people are less capable of doing a good job. clearly he didn’t give a shit that he was meant to be on the opposition.

This, as you may have noticed, annoyed me somewhat.

So the proposition lays into Obama for the whole of their first speech. Not one mention of McCain’s policies. They declare Obama’s change to be ‘dangerous’, and complain about his refusal to use public money to fund his campaign. They even dare to suggest that Obama has been following a more aggressive and condemnatory campaign against them than they against him. Then the opposition basically says that McCain is dandy but Palin is the problem. In a very long winded, I’ve-written-87-books-in-my-time kind of way. Then the proposition pretty much repeated their first speech, throwing in a few points about how McCain was all for change (contradiction, much?) and that he’s not at all chummy with Bush. The opposition then made the only good speech, talking about Obama’s policies for the economy, for war etc etc. He made the mistake of using the phrase ‘whiter than white’ once or twice, which resulted in a sharp intake of breath from the audience each time until he finally corrected himself, but generally made some quite good points.

…THEN it got fun. They opened up questions to the floor. Some people picked at Obama’s lack of experience. Some picked at McCain’s age. Many picked at Sarah Palin. Matt asked why the proposition felt it necessary to follow in the American campaign’s footsteps and bash Obama without once mentioning their own policies, which they twisted into ‘you are mean about Obama, why?’ and ranted about how Obama is a bigger meanie, he is he is say he is or I’ll hit you.

Then, as questions began running out and fewer and fewer hands were raised, the Chair was forced to let me ask a question. It has been decided by my fellow debating friends that The Chair doesn’t like me much. She tends to ignore me, even if no one else seems to have a question. This time she had to let me ask.

So I ranted and raged in a suprisingly coherent manner. One debater said later that my method of questioning was remenicent of a warrior bearing down on the proposition with various sharp and deadly weapons. I like that 🙂

So here’s what I asked:

“This to the Proposition. Could you please explain to me how you believe any right-minded person could vote for a party which do belittles the rights of women, be it in denying their right to choose, in making them pay for rape kits, as Palin did, or in putting the words women’s health in inverted commas?”
There was a super long pause, and then everyone began clapping *beams* It makes me happy now, but at the time I couldn’t have sunk lower into my chair if I tried, I was so embarrassed. Anyway the proposition were lost for words for a bit. They had no answer, because there is no answer other than ‘I guess we can’t believe that. Damn’.

In the end their answer ended up being all about Palin. Isn’t it great that a woman would be powerful. I don’t know what you feminists have to complain about, she’s a brilliant role model who has children but works and she’s a mother with children. Look at Obama and Biden, they’re so male. We’re so great with our woman. She’s brilliant. And a mother. Did we mention she has children, too? (It was really like that)
Me shouting out ‘yeah, a woman who disregards women’s rights’ was shh-ed by the Chair, heh.

So the final vote was once again for Obama, which was pleasing, although two of our party voted McCain/Palin, so we’ll be having serious words. Claire’s reasoning? I don’t like the was Obama calls women ‘sweetie’. *Sigh* Honey, that is the LEAST of our problems.

The debate was fascinating, and some of the questions were so good. I only hope that our vote is a sign of things to come on the 4th…

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