As a high school debater in the 1980s, I fondly remember debating the major controversies of the day. Should the U.S. government act to improve the quality of the nation’s water? How could the United States reduce the spread of Russian influence in Latin America? What policies could prevent Social Security from falling into bankruptcy?
Since the issues we argued took the form of debate resolutions at tournaments, I didn’t see them as touchy political controversies, but rather as policy questions that could be answered with research. I tackled each with research far more extensive than I would have done for a class paper. As a result, I gained a solid understanding of both sides of the arguments and developed a respect for views contrary to my own
The election of Donald Trump has brought new policy issues to the table and reinvigorated the debate over certain issues that many people had thought were settled, such as the threat of climate change or the value of our military alliances. Control of both policymaking branches of government by one party could mean that broad issues related to the government’s role in health care, education, and even science will be contested. And Trump is keeping many people engaged by tweeting his issue positions every day. There is so much to debate.