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Young Debaters Lead the Way

February 1, 2013 by Robert Asahina
The large audience for the current presidential debates has underscored the importance of an informed citizenry for a strong democracy. With the final presidential debate next week, the candidates and the electorate could take some cues from the high-school students participating in the economic debates underway in Dallas this weekend, sponsored by the Bush Institute in partnership with the St. Mark's School of Texas and the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. As a judge in two preliminary rounds, I was struck by the impressive command that all the young debaters had of the facts and arguments concerning their assigned topic:
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.
Pro or con, the two-person teams verbally sparred with spirit and intelligence. Both presidential candidates could learn something from their younger counterparts about fact-based arguments, logic, and, not least of all, grace under pressure. There was no eye-rolling, no theatrical mugging on the part of the high schoolers, only a serious effort to present the best arguments possible, backed by the strongest evidence available. These high schoolers, from a wide range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, exemplified an earnest commitment to research and rhetoric that speaks well of their generation's prospects for civic leadership.

Author

Robert Asahina

Robert Asahina has been a newspaper and magazine editor and writer, a book publishing executive and editor, and a data management consultant. He was editor in chief and deputy publisher of Broadway Books, president and publisher of the adult publishing group of Golden Books, and vice president and senior editor of Simon and Schuster; deputy managing editor of The New York Sun and an editor at The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, George, and The Public Interest; and a consultant at Freddie Mac. He is the author of "Just Americans" and of numerous articles and reviews for The Wall Street Journal, Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere.

 

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