To the Presidential Candidates: Q & A’s We Should Hear

I cringe when I watch the Presidential debates.  My heart rate elevates slightly.   I keep waiting for questions and answers that nobody wants to hear, questions and answers that we should hear, but they never come.  Below, I imagine some questions and answers that, unfortunately, we’ll never see or hear:


While the 20th Century provided seemingly limitless opportunities for economic growth, resource extraction, and technological development, it seems we need to shift the paradigm–I care about the future, and I wonder how you can justify pushing for a reckless economic growth model?

“Thanks for the question.  I get it, and I don’t justify it.  It’s absurd that we both talk about how to grow the economy in a no-holds barred free market sense, because it simply isn’t sustainable.  Look at world population trends.   Look at emerging economies in Asia, a rising middle-class in China.  Look at increased meat consumption across the world and it’s environmental impact.  We all need to shift gears, and understand that in the 21st Century, progress shouldn’t mean more cars, more gadgets, and more consumption.  I think about 100 years down the road, and any sane politician or citizen should admit to you that there simply isn’t enough land, water, and fossil fuels to continue on our current course.  We need to continue to embrace a global economy, but we also need to shift back to more regional and local economic models–especially in the area of food and energy production–in order to create more jobs and a healthy dependence on our neighbors and immediate locales.”

With Frankenstorm bearing down on the East Coast, what do you say to those who deny that Climate Change is a real threat?

“Thank you for finally bringing up Climate Change in a debate!  First of all, it’s absurd to continue to play Russian Roulette with our collective future by denying the impact humans have on the environment.  We can either continue to deny and pay the consequences, or we can take major action to try and mitigate the ongoing threat that man-influenced weather events will continue to have on our lives.”

Some people say our schools and teachers are failing.  What say you?

“Thank you for providing an opportunity to respond to this crucial topic.  Schools and teachers are not failing.  Society, and most strikingly, parents, are failing our youth.  Think about the number of single-parent homes.  I’ve talked to many school teachers who exclaim how often parents blame schools and teachers for their students’ troubles, rather than working through issues at home.

Think about the constant media barrage that our young people ingest every day.  Popular culture is not helping.   Where is school and knowledge being emphasized?

What are your feelings about Super PACS?  Should uber-wealthy partisan groups have such influence on the airways?

“By the time I answer your question, millions of Americans will be bombarded by negative campaign ads by Super PACs from both parties.  Thanks to the Supreme Court decision in the 2010 case v. FEC,  corporations and individuals no longer are limited by $5,000 dollar contributions to PACs, which gave more power to folks like Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, to give over 50 million dollars! to conservative Super PACS in 2012.  That’s an incredible amount of money.  Imagine if that money was given to charity or invested in local enterprise.  I don’t like the influence of big money in this election.  Quite frankly, it seems antithetical to democracy to allow so much money to pour into elections, and we need major campaign finance reform.”

It’s deeply troubling to continue to see violence around the world seemingly spawned by hatred of American Values.  What do you say to those who find American/Western values to be so problematic and incendiary?

“Tough question.  Let me make it clear that I understand that Freedom in some places, due to historic and religious traditions dating back thousands of years, is not a universal value.  I will not impose American values on places, and there’s no doubt we will continue to see difficult and lengthy transitions to democratic institutions in the Middle East and around the world.  It may never work.  That said,  I’m not about moral relativism.  There are certain cultures and attitudes that are better for humanity and the stability of our modern world.  To kill people because of a cheap YouTube video is beyond pathetic, as is the judgement the film’s producer made in exercising his first amendment rights to a reckless degree.”

What questions and answers do you wish you would hear from the candidates?


  1. I came to this post a bit late, but I had a similar post about why presidential candidates lie in debates. I don’t really think it’s the candidates faults – your wonderful answers above are littered with sound bites that could be seized by the other side and twisted. Until we find a way to increase people’s attention spans and change the manipulatory nature of media and “speech,” we can’t have an honest debate.

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