The Instigator
Cooperman88
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Washington D.C. is broken.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/4/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,351 times Debate No: 2414
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (11)

 

Cooperman88

Pro

In order to begin this debate, I would first like to thank my future opponent for debating me. I am currently a parli debater in college, so my style is probably a mix of old c-x'er. So with that being said, I am open to any real type of debate. Just tell me.

Now for my actual argumentation. I will define Washington D.C. as being our nation's government. This includes all three branches. Broken is defined as needing repair. My reason for defining it this way is because if something is needing repair, it certainly isn't working to perfection. If it isn't working to perfection, then it needs to be fixed to make it so.

My first criterion is that voter turnout has been very low. Even with the recent spike in voter turnout, we are still far below the average. Iraq had their first election ever, and there was much controversy. People were standing in front of voting places picketing and causing much violence. Last I checked, America doesn't have that problem. But still, Iraq had an 80% voter turnout. America in the 2004 election had just over seventy percent. This is an extreme problem. The way america's government is built to work, is so that everyone has a say in what happens to them. This worked very well during the first years of our country for a couple reasons. One of those reasons is that people actually cared. To say that people today actually care is absurd. People will vote for Barack Obama because he is black, or Hillary because she is a woman. They don't need to know anything about their actual stance on issues. Another reason it worked so well is because it was on a small scale. In order for a democratic republic to work, everyone needs to participate. With a country this large, It is nearly impossible to have everyone participate. We see this with the history of voter turnouts.

This leads me to my second contention. America has the wrong type of government. Don't get me wrong, I am a patriot through and through. I have just as much american pride as the next, but there is a trend that is running through our country, and it is a trend of failure. There was a failure after 9/11 to correctly respond to the situation. We declared a war based on false information about weapons of mass destruction. There was a failure after Hurricane Katrina devastated the south eastern part of America. There was a failure when we started torturing "enemy combatants." There was a failure when the government started taking our rights to privacy away. There was a failure when tax cuts were given to companies that were making billions of dollars, and not given to the needy. There was a failure when Bush vetoed a bill to extend medicare coverage to the lower middle class because it cost too much, after proposing more money be spent on "National Security" aka the war in Iraq. These failures prove that America is not where it should be. Let's look at what is happening in the election right now. Every single candidate is saying that he/she is a candidate of change. There's an old saying that says "If it aint broke, don't fix it." If everyone says it needs to be changed, then it's broken. Our forefathers were correct when they said that if the government isn't doing it's job, then it is the people's job to fix it. As of now, nobody is doing anything to fix the problem that is our government. Please don't think that I am saying we should start a revolution and overthrow our government. There are definitely some good things happening. But ask yourself this question. Do you actually believe that the people your state elected to represent you actually represents you? Do you think that if you called them up tomorrow and said that they should do this that they would listen to you? I think you would be hard-pressed to truthfully answer yes.

My third and final contention is that our government has become an entity to itself. Our government, for the most part, has stopped trying to benefit our country, and has started to make itself look better in it's own eyes. Instead of saying this is what our country needs, they are saying, this is what our party lines say I should believe. George Washington was a ferven opposer of political factions. I say it is for this very reason. Political parties are there for their own benefit. They are there to have power, and not actually help others. Our government is supposed to be making our lives better. And for those of you who believe that, look at the national debt right now. Then look at the national debt under Clinton. Once again, I am certainly not a Clinton supporter, but he did a good job running the country. For that he should be commended. But our debt is running out of control. We have started spending money like it is monopoly money. Our dollar is now only half of the pound, and the euro is over one and a half times our dollar. This is preposterous. For the worlds largest superpower, we shouldn't have that problem. But instead, we are in a recession because our government forgot that the money we give them should be going to protect US. Not the Iraqis. I know that sounds extremely selfish. But there is a reason the UN was formed. It was to be the world's "police officer" if you will. Yes, I realize that the UN may not be doing it's job too well, but that is a different debate. So our government has lost sight of what it is supposed to be doing.

For the reasons mentioned above, I can only see a propositional vote. Thank you and good luck to my future opponent. I wish for a very educational round.
beem0r

Con

Greetings, Cooperman, I expect this will be a stimulating debate. Unlike yourself, I am unfamiliar with the various 'types' of debate. As far as I'm concerned, a debate is a debate is a debate. Each debater should, in my opinion, make their points however they see fit. Perhaps that kind of debate has a name. Either way, that's the type we shall be having.
With that out of the way...

First my opponent defines Washington D.C. and broken. I have no qualms with the definitions he gave, and so I shall also use them. I'd like everyone to keep in mind his definition, "needing repair," for broken.

I'll now respond to each of his contentions:

My opponent's first contention is that not enough people participate in voting in the US. First, I would like to bring everyone's attention back to the definition of broken. Broken means that something is in need of repair; however, for something to necessitate repair, there must be a means by which repair might be attained. I am making the claim that there is no way to fix apathy within a democratic system. Any efforts to force people to vote are in and of themselves acting against the democratic process. I'll provide an analogy to perhaps explain what I mean a bit better.

Suppose there is a cup, and it holds 4 liquid ounces. Suppose, too, that the owner of said cup drinks 8 liquid ounces of milk at each meal. While this cup is certainly not a very good cup, it is in no way in need of repairs. It's simply a bad cup for that use, and its owner will have to either deal with the trouble of refilling it in the middle of a meal or simply buy a completely new cup. Repairing it is not an option, and therefore claiming that his cup is broken or in need of repairs is entriely false.

My opponent's next contention is that our government is the wrong type. Our government has perhaps done some things it would have been better not to do. However, there is no 'better' type of government. As unfortunate as it might be, not everyone is perfect - including elected officials. Their mistakes are not the mistakes of the system. The system is not broken, we just got screwed with bad leaders. More efficient types of government are often not fair enough, fairer governments are often not as efficient. It's a trade-off between efficiency and fairness, and this just happens to be where we are right now.

My opponent says "As of now, nobody is doing anything to fix the problems." He also says that rising up against political leaders who have made these mistakes is not what he's advocating. I ask him this: just what ARE you advocating? As I said in response to your first contention, something needs to be repairable in order to need repairs, and it seems you're once again complaining that we're stuck with a 4-oz cup from which drink 8 oz of milk. You're not claiming that it's needing repair, you're claiming that it's just a bad system that doesn't work correctly.

The last contention my opponent brings up this round is that the US Government has stopped caring about our well-being. He brings up political parties as a supposed problem, but a party system is not legislated. Political parties simply arise out of people thinking similar to one another and forming a group. Should this be banned? Should we not be able to identify ourselves with a group of ideals we agree with? Is it not ok for me to call myself republican, democrat, libertarian, etc? Once again, my opponent has not said how such a 'problem' would be fixed, and there is no immediately apparent way to fix such a thing, so he's complaining about a 4-oz cup again. He claims that the government is spending too much policing the world. He claims that the UN is supposed to do that, and that they aren't doing it. I ask then: would it be better to take matters that need attention into our own hands or to simply ignore them, claiming that it's someone else's job, knowing that it's not getting done? It probably depends on your value system. Just as a blue cup might be preferred by some to an red cup. Some prefer one, some prefer the other, but neither person can claim the other cup is broken simply because it's not how they like it. Similarly, my opponent has acknowledged that policing of the world should occur, he just doesn't think it should be our government doing it. However, no one else is, so it's a matter of taste whether we should or should not be doing it ourselves. And having distaste for something does not mean it is broken.

My opponent claims that the government has lost sight of what it's "supposed" to do. However, it is my opponent doing the supposing here. He supposes the cup would be better off green, and I suppose it's better to keep it red. A difference in taste cannot constitute something being 'broken.'

Here's where I'd usually have my offense, making new points, but it seems I've already shown above that the system cannot be considered 'broken.' Ergo, end of the round. I'll just say that I hold that the US Government is a robust system that, while it may not always acheive favorable results, will usually tend towards doing the right thing. Wrong decisions will exist, as perfection does not exist, but any correctible decisions will eventually be self-corrected. Therefore, any negative government decisions are simply a natural phenomenon that exists in every government, and do not constitute a broken system.

I hope that was somewhat comprehensible, I often struggle with having arguments the opposite thereof. o.o
Debate Round No. 1
Cooperman88

Pro

Hello beem0r, and thank you for your arguments. Without any ado, I will begin debating.

Your first answer to my first contention is that there is no way to fix the apathy of today's citizens when it comes to voting. I have two answers for you. My first is this, that even if there are no ways to fix it, that doesn't mean it isn't broken. Let's take the example of an old car. If it breaks down and there are no parts to fix it, that doesn't mean it isn't broken. The lack of a solution does not stop something from being broken. Since the resolution is that Washington D.C. is broken, you must prove it isn't. I do not have to give the way to fix it, just the proof that it is broken. My second argument is that there are actually ways to fix this apathy of voters. There are currently people doing things to get more interaction of voters. People will call homes asking hem if they have voted, and if they haven' t, then they will encourage hem to do so. If they have voted, then they are encouraged to tell others to vote. People are offered rides to the voting places if they aren't able to get transportation to their voting places. People realize the need for people to vote, and are actually doing things to fix it. This is working, but not enough. More needs to be done in order to fix this problem.

Now for your analogy. You say that a four ounce cup isn't broken even though you drink eight ounces. I say that you are correct. The cup is not broken, in that it does not need repair. But the process is broken. If the process of drinking four ounces then refilling the cup and drinking another four ounces isn't the best way, then the process needs repair. So your analogy is flawed. Yes, Washington D.C. may be working a bit, but that doesn't mean it doesn't mean it doesn't need repair. That is what I am advocating, that Washington D.C. is broken and needs repair.

You then say that there is no better type of government, but how do you know? You speak of other types of governments that trade off efficiency for fairness and vice versa, but what about a government that can do both? Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't. No, not everyone is perfect, in fact no one is. This includes public officials. You say that their mistakes are not the mistakes of the system, but I say you are wrong. They are the system. If they make mistakes tat affect our country, then something should be done to stop those problems from happening. Our system of checks and balances is supposed to stop these problems. When they don't, something needs to be fixed. Obviously there was a lack of stopping problems recently, so it needs to be fixed.

Your next argument brings up the point that something needs to be repairable in order to ned repair, but that is not true. Just because something can't be repaired does NOT mean it isn't broken. Imagine that you total your car. I mean completely demolish it. It looks like a piece of modern art. You can't tell which door is which, and one of the tires is still connected but it has found it's way into the car. Your car is broken. No doubt bout it. Can it be fixed? No. It is beyond repair. It still is broken. The lack of a solution does not stop the problem from being there.

Now for your last argument. You say that political parties are not legislated, and that it is a group of like-minded people. The first part of that statement is correct. They are not legislated. The second part is somewhat correct. It is a group of like minded people, but those in power have stopped looking out for those people, and have started looking out for just it's party. Last I checked there are different parties like republican, democrat, and libertarian. So why then does a republican president only look out for the republicans? The same goes for the other parties. They should be partnering in order to find the best good for EVERYONE not competing and helping only their supporters. Here you talk about how there is no solution again. Again, there does not need to be a solution in order to need fixed, and also, I don't have t present a solution, just show how it is broken. As far as the UN goes, it is not our job to do their job. Our government was set up to help us. That doesn't mean we should never help others, but we have started to be the world's police officer. That is not what our government is for. So once again, it is broken.

Your next paragraph says that just because I think it should be different does not constitute it being broken. You are correct. But as of now, I am the only one that has shown you how it is broken. My opponent has not proven to you that it is not broken.

In your next statement is where you first make a claim as to Washington D.C. not being broken. You say it is a robust system, but then don't back it up. You haven't shown how the government is working.

Thank you again for debating me. I look forward to your response.
beem0r

Con

First, I would like to say that voter apathy is not a problem. Voter apathy is a choice - it is not necessary for people who don't care about government to take a stand on issues they don't care about. In fact, more than being unnecessary, it is wholly bad for the country. If someone is apathetic, they SHOULDN'T vote. Now if people were forced to vote or given incentives to vote (like money or such) then we would have a broken system. We would have apathetic people actually voting. Only the people who want to vote should. The fact that you think everyone should vote does not make our system broken, it simply means you're either wrong or you simply have a different point of view than me. And as I pointed out in the last argument, differing tastes is like a person who likes the color red calling a blue cup broken.

You then attacked my 4-oz cup, 8-oz of liquid analogy. You say the cup isn't broken, but the process is broken. Simply because it isn't the most efficient way possible? The definition you gave of broken was "needing repair" not "needing repair if you want it to be PERFECT." The process of drinking all 8 oz from a 4-oz cup indeed works, so it cannot be broken. Perfection does not exist - by your warped definition you try to apply here, everything is broken.

Next, you say that perhaps there is a better type of government, one that can have both trade efficiency and fairness. I think you missed the point. It is an economic principle that Governments face a trade-off between efficiency and fairness. There are only a few things that increase both, such as disallowing monopolies (I think, at least). But most any other policy a government could enact, if it raises one, the other will drop. It all depends on your value system - some people like higher efficiency, others like more fair distribution. The point being, this is simply a matter of taste. Once again, it's like calling a blue cup broken simply because you prefer red.

Then you say that the mistakes of individuals mean that the system is broken. What is our government supposed to do, only elect perfect people? Sure, if we had an overabundance of perfect people, maybe that would be viable. Last time we checked though, we have NONE. People are not perfect. Them being otherwise does not constitute a broken system.

I concede that something does not need to be fixable to be considered broken, thus I have moved away from that argument.

You say that political parties only look out for themselves; this is simply not true. They simply make policies based on their party's beliefs. For instance, republicans tend to think it's better to help out the big businesses in an attempt to stimulate the economy and let it 'trickle down,' whereas democrats tend to give stuff straight to the people. This is why one group does one and the other does another. However, republicans don't only help republican businesses, and democrats don't just give stuff to the democrats among the people. They are far-reaching policies that are used regardless of the political standing of the beneficiary.

Then, you reasserted that the US government should not be the world's police officer. Why not? Because you don't want them to be? Because that wasn't one of the initial reasons they were set up? Neither of these are good answers. It simply means that you have a different value system than the government. You like government to be one way, it's not. That doesn't make it broken. It just means that you have different tastes. Whether or not it was originally set up to police the world, it has now taken that upon itself. To you, this is a blue cup, when you would prefer it to be red. This does not constitute a broken system at all, it just means you disagree with it.

And to back up my statement that Washington is robust, it is constantly changing. Each 4 years our prez is switched out, and most legislators have similar term lengths. This means that if someone gets in office who is comparatively incompetent, this person will be gone in due time. If enough people realize that there is a problem, they will seek change. That is how the government works. It is not a static system, nor should it be. By its very nature, it is constantly changing to adapt to what the people think is best. This is why it is robust, because it is constantly being fine-tuned. Policies come and go all the time, politicians come and go all the time, not much is truly constant in our government.

I have shown that all of your qualms with government can pretty much be attributed to you having a different value system than the government. Thus, I have shown that none of your examples make the government broken, they just mean that you have different tastes than the government. Thus, with the information given so far, we cannot assume that the government is broken, since no decisive evidence has been given.

I look forward to your final statements.
Debate Round No. 2
Cooperman88

Pro

Thank you again for this wonderful debate. It has been very fun.

Let's take a look at voter apathy. You say that those who don't care about political issues shouldn't be forced to vote on political issues they don't care about. I agree. I'm not advocating that we make everyone vote. What I am saying, is that in order for a democratic republic to work, essentially everyone needs to participate. Look back to my first argument in the first round. The reason that the political process worked so well, is because everyone was involved. The country was much smaller then, and it was a lot easier to get everyone to vote. Now, with the size of our country, it is nearly impossible to have everyone vote. I would even venture to say that it is completely impossible. This hurts the democratic process because we know that all of the people who this government affects did not have a say in the process. That is what a democratic republic is all about. Now to show you exactly why this is broken. Since a democratic republic relies on the people to elect it's officials, and it relies on the people to participate; when not all of the people vote, it hurts the actual process of electing officials. It undermines the very base of a democratic republic. Again, in my first paragraph, I said that it worked very well on a small scale. America is no longer a small scale. Even though technology is extremely easy to use, it is still a much too large of a country to have the same type of success that it once had. So if our country has had greater success than it is having today, then that proves that our government is broken today. It is not working to it's fullest capacity. Even if our government is a "four-ounce cup" we're only pouring in two ounces. Yes, it may be working, but not to it's fullest capacity. That means that something needs to be fixed in order for it to be working to it's fullest potential. It's not a matter of personal preference. Yes, I think that everyone should be voting, not because they have to, but because it is a responsibility of theirs. I hear too many times that voting is a privilege. It's not. Voting is a responsibility. This means that you should do it because our government relies on people voting. This isn't a personal preference, it is what is necessary in order for our government to really work.

You then say that it isn't broken because it isn't perfect. I grant that. But because this same government has worked better in the past than it is working now, I say it is broken. If your car, I'm stuck on car analogies today, normally gets 30 miles to the gallon, and all of a sudden one day it's getting 15, it is still working, but not to it's fullest potential. That means that something needs to be fixed in order for it to get back to where it was working the best. It is in need of repair. No, it doesn't have to be perfect but it should at least run to the fullest of it's proven capabilities. That isn't too much to ask of a car, and it certainly shouldn't be too much to ask of our government.

You then go on to talk about the economic principle of fairness and efficiency. I have two arguments here. My first is that we aren't talking about economics so this principle doesn't really matter. My second argument is that it is possible to have a government that is efficient and fair. Efficiency and fairness are not mutually exclusive. One does not rely on the other one to exist. Therefore just because we have a fair government does not mean we have an efficient government, and vice versa. So if this is a matter of taste like you say it is, then I prefer to have my cake and eat it too. I prefer a government that is both fair and efficient. And to say that a government that isn't both isn't broken sounds a little odd to me. Maybe it was set up to only be one, but if it was, then we should definitely change that. Too many times people settle for something that isn't the best thinking that it can't be better. We should definitely fix the fact that our government can't be both fair and efficient. That definitely needs fixed, and to say otherwise is absurd.

This is again where you talk about perfect people. I already answered this in my last speech. Did you miss my point about the checks and balances? Because you certainly didn't respond to it. What that was saying is that the imperfect people we elect make imperfect decisions. I completely agree with that. No where have I ever said only perfect people should be elected. But because our system is set up to catch those mistakes, when they don't catch them then our system is obviously not working as it should be. That means that we should fix it to where it is working correctly. Once again, the mistakes that our government, and it is our government as a whole not just one person, has made prove that it isn't working correctly.

As for the political parties arguments, you are correct. I will concede that point.

Now you start to back up that washington is robust. Let me define robust for you. Strong and healthy. Just because it is ever changing does not mean it is strong or healthy. You have failed to show how just because it is continuously changing it makes it robust. Yes it is changing, but that doesn't mean it is changing for the better. You are assuming that everything will work out in the end, as we have seen it doesn't. You and I both agree that no one is perfect, so every single official we elect is going to be bad in one area. I agree. This is again where I talk about the system. If we have a bad official, which we are bound to have, then it is the system's duty to either get rid of that official, or protect it's citizens from the bad decisions that official makes. We have seen that system fail with Iraq, Katrina, and all the other examples I already gave previously in this debate. If the system can't stop mistakes from being made then I say it is broken. Our government is set up to stop mistakes from being made, and now it is failing to do so. That means it needs to be fixed.

I eagerly await to see the result of this debate. I imagine that it will be a very close one since this has been a great debate. Thank you for taking your time to debate me. I am eager to see your final remarks.
beem0r

Con

It has been a good debate, one of the few I've even considered to be an actual debate.

The essence of your first paragraph is this: The government works better when everyone votes, and while it may work as is, it would work better if everyone voted.

You also put forward that something simply needs to have previously worked better to be considered broken. I would almost go along with this, but I just realized something very important.

In round 2, my opponent said that something does not have to be able to be repaired in order to be broken. I conceded this point, but I should not have. While I agree that something does not have to be fixable to be broken, it does by the definition of broken we're using.

A totaled car cannot be repaired. Thus, it literally cannot be "in need of repair". It cannot be broken by the definition you've provided, though by other definitions it is. Such as the definition you've tried to apply in round 3, which simply requires that something has degenerated into a less useful state.

Just as the totaled car, the government cannot be repaired when it comes to voting. you even admitted this: "Now, with the size of our country, it is nearly impossible to have everyone vote. I would even venture to say that it is completely impossible."

I apologize for bringing up a point that I had previously conceded, but I conceded it based on false pretenses. As I just showed, I should not have conceded that point. Something must be repairable to be 'in need of repair.' There's no question about that.

Next, about fairness and efficiency. You say that since the principle is economic, it does not apply. However, what brought up that entire point was you saying that the government has stopped caring about our well-being. I figured that by such a statement you had a problem with how the tax dollars were being spent. In that paragraph, you spoke of the national debt, worth of the dollar, spending overseas on policing the world, etc. Economic issues. Anyway, my argument was in response to policing the world specifically: you conceded that something needs to be done, but the UN isn't doing their job. It is in the interest of fairness for the rest of the world - you conceded that they need someone to police the world, but they don't have that. So we're giving it to them. Of course that won't be free for us to do. Of course it's going to cause a decrease in economic well-being here in the states. However, there are some who think that It is worth that sacrifice. As I said, it is a matter of taste.

and when it comes to checks and balances, our government is not supposed to automatically, instantly catch all mistakes and disallow them to go through. Our system is supposed to limit what one branch can do without the support of the others. Unfortunately, sometime people overall will be misled, and multiple branches will be mistaken. Mistakes are to be expected, and our government is simply meant to limit and eventually revert these mistakes.

And about robust, I was using a less common definition: adaptable. Hopefully, that makes a bit more sense now, my bad for not specifying a definition, I didn't actually know about the other definitions.

In most areas, our system was never any better than it is now. In the instances that it is, it cannot be 'repaired' back to its old condition. Thus, based on the definition of broken my opponent supplied, it is not broken. It might be broken based on other definitions of the word, but my opponent went through the trouble of explicitly choosing this one specifically.

I suppose it's off to the voters then. Great debate, I enjoyed it.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
This was one of the most interesting debates I've read. Good job to both of you!
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Vote Placed by Logos 9 years ago
Logos
Cooperman88beem0rTied
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