The Society had a spectacular Hamilton Alumni Debate as we tackled the issue of Resolved: Ours is a Golden Age. Chancellor Deutsch began the afternoon as many others did by thanking the people who attended and gave a special remembrance for the life of Jessica Caroe. The debate began with Chancellor Deutsch’s defining our golden age as from 2000 to now. A golden age is one in which many people would want to live. He first asserted that it is fine to be proud of the age that we live in. We have to resist our DNA which says it isn’t the best of times and ignore our rosier view of the past. Furthermore, dissatisfaction is a good thing to have because it shows we are striving to do better. Chancellor Deutsch continued with the great benefits of modern medicine, the limitlessness of knowledge that can be contained on a smart phone, and our technological triumph over time and space. He concluded that although technology can be scary, and we must be wary of emojis, this is truly a golden age. Chancellor Fairley replied by outlining two arguments that he was unsatisfied with which he called the crotchety old man and the where is my jet pack. He continued by saying that we live in a great time but that doesn’t mean we have to affirm. Using the example of Candide and the character of Pangloss, he warned of the dangers of thinking that this is the best of all possible times. Chancellor Fairley then compared the affirmation to the guy who never leaves college. Moreover, society will not strive for anything greater if it believed to be in a golden age. In closing, Chancellor Fairley stated that a golden age always leads to decline or fall, and he never wants someone saying our age is as good as it gets.
Mr. Harbour began his keynote by rejecting the notion that there is always a decline and said that we can sustain this golden age. He looked at our values, which he called the best of all time, and the proliferation of democracy and the ultimate realization of democracy for the first time in history. Furthermore, rights have vastly expanded for all groups of people citing opportunities for women and the poor and underprivileged. In fact, we are the first golden age without a peasant class, and the poor are allowed to own property. Ultimately, this is a golden age because anyone can access information, leisure time has grown, and people have more opportunities to pursue fulfilling lives. Chancellor Haag started by pointing out that golden ages are assigned retroactively and that the people are never aware of it as it is occurring. He rejected the notion of using technology and numbers as the prime measurement for a golden age because they don’t define an age especially what the mood of the people. He argued that we do not have the same dreams of tomorrow as people are living in the past and show something that is wrong with today. Chancellor Haag argued that compared to our peers and what we could be, we are not that great. He concluded by saying that everything is amazing, and no one is happy.
President Marsh opened up the floor by arguing that this is our time to be happy and dreading the future shows it is a golden age now. Mr. Dulik challenged the affirmation to present more than just iPhones as we have our diplomats killed overseas and 1 in 5 US children go to bed hungry. Ms. Dailey replied that all golden ages have problems but that opportunities we have now make ours truly a golden age. Mr. Askonas, using science fiction which was a common theme in the debate, argued that we are not living in a striving positive era. Mr. Healy (1995) stated that the prospects have never been higher for people because of the opportunities. Mr. Young (2001) replied that we need to look beyond ourselves and this blankness and loss of hope that is happening for many Americans. Ms. Wynter argued that we can fix the problems and struggles of this age better than ever before. Mr. Hipple (2009) argued that there are no struggles in our age and the result is that we live in a flawed age. Taylor Willis (SFS ’16) disagreed saying that the driving force for our society is ensuring a better future. Chancellor Drew utilized comic book ages to argue that we are in an age of uncertainty. Mr. Peterson (2010) argued that this is the peak age of American power. Ms. Smith argued that our materialism is ugly today and that we are in an age of improvement but not golden. Chloe Krawczyk (SFS ’15) stated that we will be remembered as age of opportunities and innovation. Mr. Slickmeyer (2001) argued that we are actually living in an era of missed opportunities. Ms. Green (2012) argued that we are fighting to fix the problems that exist in the world and that we need to decide what is important. Mr. Edgar replied that actually many of the problems today are ignored and not cared for. Mr. Wilson responded that people are actually doing things and caring about the future. Mr. Downes (2011) stated that we have lost our sense of moral responsibility and formed charity 2.0 which is hold a rally instead of working for change. Mr. Snow ended the floor portion of the debate by saying that because of our cultural influence abroad we are truly living in a golden age.
Chancellor Haag argued that the affirmation lacked the superlative needed for a golden age. He said that although our society looks great on the outside, on the inside there is a rot at the core, and it means we are not in a golden age. Mr. Harbour argued that the lasting impact of American society in the future will show that we are living in a golden age. Using examples of places that are not in a golden age, he illustrated because many people are working to fix the problems of today ours is a golden age. Chancellor Fairley argued that we need to continue to make ourselves better and have hope for the future. He warned that as soon as we say ours is a golden age, we will become static. Chancellor Deutsch pointed out that we are not angels and that means there will always be bad in our world. He closed the debate by asking when would we like to be born and answered that we should want to be born now because our chances are best now.
The Society voted 19-3-26 to negate.
Mr. Dulik was awarded the Hamilton medal for eloquence. Huzzah!
The Society thanks all of the alumni for returning and creating a fantastic Hamilton debate!