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Igniting Future Growth Through Youth Debate

February 1, 2013 3 minute Read by Michael McMahan

The topic of economic growth has captured America’s focus during this season of presidential debates. However, a successful economy is not determined by quarterly or yearly ebbs and flows of GDP, rather it is determined by long-term, sustainable growth—today, tomorrow, and for decades to come. This past weekend, the George W. Bush Institute continued its crusade to create strong long-term economic growth by tackling free-market issues with our country’s future leaders: high school debaters. From Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor, to Karl Rove and Oprah Winfrey, high school debaters have been at the forefront of American success stories.  In conjunction with the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance and St. Mark’s School of Texas, the Bush Institute focused solely on these future multipliers and leaders by hosting the inaugural George W. Bush Institute Economic Debate Weekend in Dallas, Texas. Debate topics included the role private property rights play in successful growth and whether increased government investment in infrastructure is needed to have a thriving economy.  Over 140 high school students from around the country gathered to debate these topics during the course of more than 150 individual rounds of debate. Guest judges for each of the rounds included Ambassador Mark Langdale, Harriet Miers, and Judge Edith Jones. President George W. Bush joined the students and judges Saturday evening for a dinner in celebration of debate and competition. During his remarks on the importance of civilized debate in this hotly-contested political season, President Bush lamented that he did not participate in high school debate himself, quipping, “I wish I had been involved with high school debate, I might’ve done a little better.” Following President Bush’s remarks, guest lecturer Roberto Salinas-León from the Mexico Business Forum provided insight and guidance on the debate topics and their relevance in the global economic market. Salinas-León endorsed the power of debating as well by likening debates to mini- laboratories of democracy that will open doors for tomorrow’s leaders. This inaugural economic debate weekend is just the beginning for the Bush Institute. Future debates featuring the best and brightest from Dallas and around the country are in the works. Here at the Bush Institute, we believe that investing time and resources in tomorrow’s leaders is an important way to unleash the economic growth America needs.

This post was written by Michael McMahan, Program Manager for The 4% Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute.


Author

Michael McMahan
Michael McMahan

Michael McMahan currently serves as Vice President of Corporate Planning and Development, overseeing all fundraising activities and events as well as integration of long-term revenue planning for Bush Institute and public programming work.

Previously, he worked as Vice President, Strategy and Planning. In this capacity he coordinated strategic planning and strategic partnerships across the Bush Center.  He also worked as Director, Institute Policy and Planning and as Program Manager for the Bush Institute’s economic growth initiative.

McMahan is a licensed member of the Texas Bar, and prior to joining the Bush Center he was an energy law litigator. He served in the George W. Bush Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy in the Office of Policy and International Affairs. He is a graduate of the University of Texas (B.A., Economics) and Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law (J.D.).

McMahan serves on the board of the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance and is a founding board member of the Dallas chapter of America’s Future Foundation.

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