May 1, 2013
I just took part in the most interesting classroom exercise I have ever witnessed. Hamilton students in comparative politics class held a mock election for an imaginary country called West Europa. They split into six groups, representing six competing political parties. Tonight, they held the final election event: a public debate between the leaders of each party. I was in the audience to cheer on my friend Evan Abelson ’16, who represented West Europa’s Nationalist Party.
To start off the event, each candidate screened their very own campaign advertisement. These ads outlined the major policy goals of the various parties—from the Eco-moderate Party, determined to pass more stringent environmental legislation, to the People’s Party for Modern Freedom, which stressed increased defense spending.
Then the actual debate began. Each candidate was given a few minutes to make an opening statement, further defining his or her campaign platform. I was there to support the Nationalist Party and cheered loudly when Abelson finished his speech; in a nutshell, he wanted to leave the European Union in order to limit immigration and revitalize the stagnating domestic economy with special tax incentives for industry. While I had reservations about these isolationist policies, I was sure that Abelson would prove to be a strong and effective leader, who would deliver on his campaign promises.
Finally, the candidates were allowed to ask questions of one-another, critiquing their opponents’ platforms. For example: the Nationalists were criticized for wanting to limit immigration when the country needed new workers; the People’s Party for Modern Freedom wanted to vastly increase defense spending , but the government faced mounting debt and few threats to national security.
Following the debate, ballots were passed out to the audience. I enthusiastically threw my support behind the Nationalist party—though I think the People’s Party for Modern Freedom would have been my second choice. When all the votes were tallied, the Nationalist Party won the popular vote. The judges, however, ruled that the candidate from Aurinthia Independence Movement won the debate.
Majors: Government and Economics (intended)
Activities: Cross Country, Debate Society
Favorite Pastimes: Late-night Diner breakfast, reading the paper in KJ through the morning, wandering the Root Glen and sipping a latte from Cafe Opus.
Hometown: Newfane, Vt.
High School: Concord Academy