With presidential campaign season upon us, the debates of the many candidates have started. Yet, we need to make sure we are asking the right questions of the candidates. If the first debate is an indication of what is to come, we are not talking about the issues all Americans want and need to hear about. It would be nice if we followed the British model where the debates are segregated into topics like I have done below.
- With the economy doing pretty well (stock market doubled since the recession, net new jobs created since January, 2009 at 8 million per the Bureau of Labor Statistics and unemployment down to 5.3%), how will you build on that success?
- Since not every one has benefitted under the growing economy, what measures would you take to make sure that people in the lower middle class and in poverty can find opportunity?
- With the Affordable Care Act, while imperfect and complex, working pretty well by a number of measures and sources, what improvements would you make to it? If you would replace it, what would you do instead and how would you manage the transition for the many who might lose care?
- With Congress continuing to kick the can down the road to invest in our aging infrastructure, would you make building and repairing roads, bridges, railway bridges and track, ports, and electric grid a priority?
- Would you agree with the statement that investing in our infrastructure is a good investment in jobs for Americans?
- With climate change starting to impact us more and more due to our influence on the environment, what measures would you take to assure we migrate to more environmentally friendly renewable energy sources building upon the President’s plan to work with states on that mission?
- With the jobs in renewable energy growing at double digits per annum, what measures would you take to help states invest in retraining of fossil-fuel industry employees and possibly provide temporary pay measures to help in the transition?
- With water becoming a more dear resource in our country and planet, what measures would you take to help assure its protection and supply?
- With global poverty, mal-treatment of women and corruption such huge issues, what is America’s role in helping people and making sure resources get to the folks intended?
- With the Middle East such a conundrum with disparate groups fighting with and against our allies and support, what would you do differently to define success, assure that it is attainable and define a timeline to get there?
- With Putin trying to expand Russian influence with inappropriate tactics, what would your position be in dealing with him and supporting our allies?
- With China’s economic slow down and its appetite for claiming territory in the China Sea, what do you propose America do to support its allies in the region, as well as garner more trade?
Social and economic injustice
- In addition to the question above, some areas are more down-trodden than others – inner cities, rural towns and areas. What do you propose to provide hope and opportunity to these places?
- With the “Blacks Lives Matter” campaign which is in reaction to Black men being gun downed by law enforcement officers and domestic terrorists, what do you propose to do to help assure we value those men and communities?
- With America’s fall in the global rankings of socio-economic mobility, where to whom you were born matters more than your own merit in your success, what else would you propose we do to afford opportunity?
Balance between security and liberty
- Since 9/11, times have changed in America and planet. The pendulum fulcrum has swung more to security and away from individual liberties. In your view, what is the appropriate balance?
- Would you support heightened governance over drones, spying, and the NSA than exists today to assure protection, but let us remain true to our quest for individual liberty?
- With America having more gun and child gun deaths than the next twenty-two wealthiest nations combined, what do you propose we do about that?
- With suicide accounting for two-thirds of our gun deaths in America, what else would you propose we do to limit access to weapons?
- With Americans supporting background checks on all transactions and extended waiting periods, would you support legislation that would accomplish these things, even though the NRA is a powerful lobby?
I have a few more questions, but these would glean answers from candidates rather than mere words from a campaign slogan. It is easy to say you don’t agree with something, but the key question is what would you do? Also, we need to know how something will be achieved, not just what it is. At the last election Mitt Romney said he would get the unemployment rate down to 6% by 2016. Well, it is 5.3% and still in 2015, so I would expect an “atta-boy” from him to President Obama.
Please take note on issues that I did not mention, as we have heard enough about them. Planned Parenthood is actually a good organization and helps reduce the number of abortions, reduce unwanted pregnancies, and reduce poverty. We should fund it more than it is funded today, not less. Religious Freedom exists today, but it is and should be usurped by individual freedoms if one person’s religion allows unfair discrimination against another in a public transaction. That is the beauty of our constitution and Bill of Rights.
Feel free to react to these questions and offer your own. I would love to hear from you.