As part of a longstanding custom at Elizabethtown Area High School, students are running electoral campaigns in which students act out the part of real-life candidates.
One mock debate in the campaign was held the morning of Monday, Oct. 29, in which incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker was portrayed by senior Amairanys Cedeno and Democratic challenger Jess King was portrayed by junior Adnan-Mussa Traore. It might seem counterintuitive to have a female student play Smucker’s role and a male student play King’s, but social studies teacher Gerald Huesken said he encouraged students to pick someone who would do the best job articulating the candidate’s positions, not someone who looks like the candidate. Later debates were to be held for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate.
The debate began with a question of what to do about gun violence, including the massacre two days earlier at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 worshippers dead.
“We have a gun problem in the country,” Traore said as he portrayed King, saying the government should prevent private citizens from owning militarized firearms, such as those with bump stocks.
Cedeno, portraying Smucker, said there should be improved background checks, but said it is important that private citizens be allowed to arm themselves.
“In order to protect ourselves from guns, we need to be able to have guns ourselves,” Cedeno said.
Traore said it is important that the government make sure health care is affordable and accessible and that people have options other than emergency rooms to get care. Cedeno disagreed.
“I don’t think it is our job as the government to make sure everybody has health care. … Most companies supply that for their workers. It shouldn’t be the government’s job to supply health care for everyone,”Cedeno said. Traore countered that a single- payer system would make things easier for small businesses, since they would not have to worry about providing the benefit to workers.
When questioned about the legal status of marijuana, Cedeno reiterated that it is illegal at the federal level, no matter what states do.
“Federally, marijuana is illegal, so I stand by that,” Cedeno said. She did not give any reason for keeping marijuana illegal other than the fact that it is currently banned by federal law.
“I think we should legalize marijuana,” Traore said, adding that more research can be done on potential uses for marijuana if it is legal.
On the use of torture, Cedeno said torture was used to get information that led to finding and killing Osama bin Laden. Traore responded that torture is illegal on American soil and when it has been used, it has yielded false information. Traore said bin Laden was ultimately found under the direction of the Obama administration without the use of torture.
Students vote in a mock election on Friday, Nov. 2, just before the public votes in the real election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.