Howard Dean and Liz Cheney went head to head Thursday night about “the role of government in a free society,” part of a debate hosted by Marquette’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group.
Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont governor, and Cheney, a former State Department official and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, discussed the role of the federal and state governments in the economy, the laws and regulations surrounding abortion and what can be done to create jobs.
On the topic of the economy, Cheney quoted Thomas Jefferson and said “the government that governs best is that which governs least.”
Dean immediately disagreed and argued that Jefferson wouldn’t agree with himself if he saw the state of the modern economy.
“’The government that governs best is that which governs least’?” Dean said. “If that was still the case, we would still have slavery.”
Aidan Lopez Linehan, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences who is from Vermont, identified with Dean and had a lot to say about the former governor’s views on government.
“As one of the few people from Vermont (at the event), it was really interesting seeing how Howard Dean has transformed from being a very moderate individual in Vermont… (to) what happened when he was running for president when he shot to the other perspective: completely liberal,” Linehan said. “(But) the sort of view he presented here tonight was far more cooperative than Liz Cheney seemed to present from the conservative angle.”
According to Linehan, Dean worked with both parties as governor to ensure the availability of health care for individuals under 18.
Dean went on to argue that the U.S. did not have a spending problem, but “a revenue problem.”
“I think it’s stunning to hear anybody say that we don’t have a spending problem,” Cheney retorted. “The White House has confirmed that if the president is re-elected, we’re going to have a $20 trillion debt at the end of (President Obama’s) term.”
The 50-minute debate concluded with questions from the audience. Kirsten Blagg, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, thought the second segment was not as productive as the structured question portion of the debate, though she felt that the event overall was refreshing compared to other recent debates.
“I think it was productive to have very balanced representatives that didn’t really have as much at stake in the upcoming election as most of what we hear today,” Blagg said. “It was really away from this high-tense political kind of circumstance and was a little more about actual policies than ‘I want to win for this reason,’ which is what a lot of the current political discourse is. … That was refreshing (compared to) what’s been drowning in my ears for the past six months.”
Kelley Probst, a sophomore in the College of Education, agreed that the lack of political motive made the debate stand out.
“I liked it better that neither of them seemed to have a political goal in mind,” Probst said. “They were just talking about the role of government. Obviously they want you to vote for a party, but they weren’t specifically campaigning for either one.”