By Arianna Puopolo
Campus News Co-Editor
Third-party candidates found a forum for debate last Monday night in the Thimann 1 lecture hall at UC Santa Cruz. The debate, organized by the UCSC College Democrats, featured representatives from five of the six presidential candidates who will appear on the ballot next month.
The debate featured three sections: the economy, the wars/foreign policy and domestic policy. Each representative was given 90 seconds to respond to the questions, which were chosen by the moderator, with up to three 30-second rebuttals after.
Bill Anderson, representing Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, opened the floor with a Ron Paul endorsement, followed by a call to action.
“If you don’t like Ron Paul or Bob Barr I urge you, don’t vote at all,” he said.
This middle-aged Barr representative intends to write in Paul on the ballot come Election Day.
The Peace and Freedom Party’s Louis LaFortune spoke on behalf of Ralph Nader, several times expressing outrage at the war and U.S. foreign policy.
“There is no war on terror,” LaFortune said. “The U.S. is probably the biggest purveyor of terror in the world.”
Third-year student John Williams was not far behind, representing the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney.
Williams pushed his candidate’s policy of instating green jobs and eliminating corporate power over natural resources.
“We’ve allowed corporate interests to rape and pillage across the globe,” Williams said.
The event, in the 100-capacity lecture hall, had a good turnout, with an audience ready to ask questions. The representatives sat in a line in front of the audience, coincidentally left-to-right in line with each’s political stances.
Health care was an important issue on the agenda. LaFortune condemned the “pay-or-die system” that forces Americans into paying for expensive private insurance in order to have health care coverage.
“It’s a cliché,” he said. “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”
Obama representative and recent UCSC graduate Heather Stephens gave standard Obama answers, skirting the issue of same-sex marriage by citing separation of church and state.
“The traditional definition of marriage doesn’t have any place in these debates,” Stephens said.
Stephens worked on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign before the Democratic National Convention nominated Obama. She was optimistic about the Obama ticket’s capacity to effect change in this country.
“Change comes in excruciatingly tiny steps in our government,” she said.
Stephens defended Obama against criticism of his current stance on the economy.
“In a crisis like this one, we’re often confronted with a lot of bad choices,” she said.
McCain spokesperson Derrick Seaver, a member of the Santa Cruz County GOP Central Committee, defended his candidate in clear terms, arguing for nuclear power and the United States’ role as a global leader in the war on terror.
Amanda Ryland, a first-year politics major who attended the event, said she believes third-party candidates should have a chance to be involved in debates and politics.
“I didn’t know too much about the third-party candidates,” Ryland said. “I liked what they were saying, but I like what Barack Obama has to say better.”