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Democratic Socialists Debate the Tea Party Credit: Alex Neier

In a perhaps calmer-than-expected debate, the Democratic Socialists and the Penn Tea Party met Monday to discuss current political issues. The five-student panel covered topics ranging from education and health care reform to the role of government in taxation.

Often considered “extremist or defensive,” as stated by moderator and College senior Colin Kavanaugh, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, both parties needed a forum to “debate reasonably.” They delivered their opinions in a tame manner to an audience of about fifteen people.

Tea Party advocate and Graduate School of Education student Dan Chinburg began the talk with the view that Americans are “entitled to individual rights,” a sentiment he reinforced throughout the discussion.

“Congress should make rules, but there should be limits and regulations on that creation, which is the job of the Constitution,” Tea Party advocate and College junior Daniel Hartsoe said.

Chinburg added that people are driven more by a “sense of self-responsibility” than responsibility for others. Self-motivation keeps the economy running efficiently in his party’s view.

Democratic Socialist representative Corey Barnes, a College junior, pointed out that “we also believe the individual comes first, but that no individual comes more first than others.” Their side of the conversation supported health care reform and big-business bailouts.

“It’s not that we believe we should socialize everything, but that we should use tax payer money to fund social projects that benefit everyone,” he said.

Aside from a few quips on whether or not people should receive yachts under a socialist system, as well as several tangential side-tracks into political theory, the debate stuck to these main principals.

Despite obvious ideological differences, debaters recognized that concise agreement was not necessarily the goal.

“Between the Socialist Democrats and Tea Party, there’s much more of a philosophical divide, which is a more exciting thing to debate than the political details of policy,” Hartsoe said.

With the much larger audience than previous Tea Party events, one of which only attracted four people, Hartsoe may be right.

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