A debate about democracy

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Story by Da’Sha TuckStaff writer

Professors Brian Clardy, a self-described liberal, and Brent Taylor, a self-described conservative, rarely agree on political issues, but they agree on one thing: the importance of the Constitution.

Clardy and Taylor’s debate, titled “Political Parties and the Constitution,” will be at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 17 in the Curris Center Theater.

Constitution Day

“Alexander Hamilton: A Reconsideration” from 8:30 a.m. to 9:20 a.m.

9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on “Issues Regarding the Second Amendment”

At 11 a.m.  “Separation of Church and State and Religion in Family Law Cases.”

“Supreme Court Overturns Animal Cruelty Video Ban: The Role of Moral Decency in U.S. versus Stevens (2010)”.

At 12:30 p.m. ”The First Amendment and Off-Duty Public Employees; Tradeoffs between Civil Liberties, Agency Mission, and Public Trust”

The debate on political parties and the constitution will focus on both liberal and conservative views and how they are similar and how they are different. Clardy will present the liberal side of the debate.“Constitution Day is something that has been observed in some fashion at Murray State since around 2002 or 2003,” said James Clinger, event organizer. “The basic idea is that students need to learn about the Constitution so they can be better informed and more engaged citizens.”

He said he plans to have an intellectual discussion with Taylor, who will present the conservative view.

“People generally see a lot of anger between parties,” Clardy said. “We want to model that people can have an intellectual discussion with a balance.”

Taylor taught at Murray State but now teaches at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. He and Clardy have participated in this debate for several years in a row. Clinger said the celebration has taken different forms in the past.

“In recent years we have relied primarily upon faculty to give presentations on different aspects of the Constitution, including recent and historic interpretations of the Constitution by the courts,” Clinger said.

This year’s session will address the Constitution’s silence about political parties. 

Taylor said some of the founding fathers believed that political parties were potentially harmful to the country. He said the idea was that we are all Americans, so we should have similar goals.

“That would be a refreshing change of pace in today’s political climate,” Taylor said.

Although political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution, Clardy said he believes parties are a good thing and that they help strengthen the checks and balances.

“Constitution Day is a great event for not just students, but anyone who wants to learn more about the fundamental law of the nation and to put it into the context of current events,” Taylor said.  “I encourage everyone interested to pick at least one of the sessions to attend.”