the 2006 edition, there were scores of questions that reporters might
pitch at politicians. While most of the questions persist today, they
were pulled from the Revised 2011 Edition. Here they are if you are
-- Were we lied to
about the reasons to invade Iraq? How do we get out and when? Or why
should we stay, and for how long?
Immigration is also a front-burner question, what with an estimated 12
million illegal aliens in the United States. So,
-- What should be our immigration policy? Should illegal immigrants be
given the opportunity to earn citizenship? What should be the criteria?
Will a fence or wall really work? Do you think English should be our
The broader foreign policy questions, that will continue past the 2006
balloting are these:
-- What can we do to stop global terrorism?
-- What do we do to restore our image of integrity and leadership in the
-- Should the U.S. be the world's policeman, or should we support an
international body in that work?
-- Should the United Nations be supported or disbanded and replaced?
-- Should we continue participation in NATO, SEATO and similar mutual
-- The U.S. is the world's leading arms merchant. Those weapons often
wind up starting wars and being used to oppress people. Should we stop
selling arms abroad? U.S. military personnel are stationed in dozens of
foreign countries at a cost of more than $150 billion a year. Does that
serve our national interests? Would our needs not be better met if U.S.
troops were used to take back areas in our own country controlled by
-- Should we stop testing, freeze production, and begin reciprocal
dismantling of all nuclear weapons? Should we cancel Star Wars, B-1, B-2
and all other new weapons programs? Should we end production of and
detoxify all chemical and biological weapons?
-- How do we secure our borders?
-- What should be our role in the Western Hemisphere?
-- Should we end the travel/trade embargo against Cuba?
-- Should we support free trade?
-- What should be done about the out-sourcing of American jobs to
-- Are we better off demonstrating effective democracy at home rather
than using our military to force democracy on other countries?
--What should our policy be toward Israel?
-- What should we do about Myanmar?
-- What can be done to stop the holocaust in the Sudan?
-- What are other threats to the world today?
On matters of domestic policy, one of the core issues is the
liberal-conservative dialectic about the size and role of government.
-- Do we have too much government? How can government be made more
-- Should the tax system be reformed? If so, how? Should we continue the
estate tax? Should we tax spending instead of income? Should there be a
minimum tax on incomes over $100,000? Should there be a limit on the
amount of home-mortgage interest a person may deduct? Should health
insurance premiums be tax deductible? Should people be limited in the
number of exemptions they can take for children? Should all deductions
and exemptions be eliminated?
-- How can we take the special interest money out of the political
process? Would public financing of elections work? Should federally
licensed broadcasters be required to provide air time for political
candidates shortly before elections? Should citizens be able to vote by
remote, electronically, without casting a ballot weeks before election
day? Would you favor a (single) national primary? A national
consolidation of election days?
-- Should the Social Security system be maintained or folded into the
general tax and welfare structure?
-- Should the taxpayers guarantee private pensions? Should federal
employees have separate health and pension plans?
-- What is wealthy? How much should a family of four have to earn before
the national tax system takes a bigger bite?
-- Should the federal government be required to operate within a
-- What percentages of the budget should be spent on health care,
education, the military?
-- Should the government provide tax incentives to gentrify impoverished
neighborhoods? What to do about support agricultural, mining and grazing
-- Should the government provide public assistance in product --
housing, food, clothing, health care, training -- instead of money or
food stamps? Should states and local governments be responsible for
distributing public assistance?
-- Do you favor legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp?
Health care is a critical issue for most of the country, with 45 million
uninsured, four generations of families living, obesity rampant, the
Medicare drug plan a confusing, expensive mess. It is one of the primary
concerns that candidates have to confront. So, bottom line, if you will,
should we join the rest of the developed world and institute a
single-payer universal health care system?
-- Everyone is pro-life, no one is pro-abortion, but most Americans
favor a woman's right to choose, as stated in Roe v. Wade. How might we
eliminate the number of unwanted pregnancies.
-- Should smoking be banned in all public (indoor) places? Should the
government support or allow the growing, production and/or export of
-- Should American pharmaceutical companies be required to provide drugs
to Americans at their lowest available price?
-- Should people be allowed to take drugs and alternative health care
treatments that haven't been approved by the FDA without having to leave
-- Should terminally ill people be allowed to die with dignity when they
-- Should all public schools be required to provide education in
nutrition, exercise and hygiene?
-- What should be done about the obesity epidemic? Would you favor a
six-month test moratorium on all advertising for fast food restaurants?
-- What can be done about excessive drinking? Would you favor a
six-month test moratorium on all beer advertising?
-- Should the government shift from medical intervention to prevention?
-- Do Americans, especially children, spend too much time in front of
There are few politicians, if any, who don't promise to improve
education but little gets done. America used to have the finest public
education in the world. Our students now rank well behind most developed
countries, especially in science and math. What should be done about
-- Should we extend the school year from 180 to 220 days?
-- Should we require better training of and performance from our
teachers? Should teachers be tenured?
-- Should we shift from bilingual training to providing English language
-- Should we require a curriculum that makes American children aware of
their country's origins and principles and leads them to becoming more
participatory in the election process?
-- Should we expand opportunities for vocational training?
-- What role should schools play in societalization? Should we rely on
schools to mitigate the failure of parents? Does society have a right to
be protected from failed parenting?
Justice is not a paramount issue in the 2006 elections but it will no
doubt resurface in further campaigns. We have more people behind bars
than almost every nation on Earth, at enormous expense to taxpayers.
-- Should we incarcerate violent offenders and put non-violent felons
into work-release programs? Should we reduce or eliminate the penalties
for "victimless" crimes like gambling, drugs and prostitution?
-- We have a history of executing innocent people. Should we eliminate
the death penalty?
-- Ninety percent of the women and children in our country are afraid to
go out into their own neighborhoods at night. What can be done to
provide better security?
-- Our courts are gridlocked. Should we do what many countries have done
and require losing litigants to pay court costs?
-- How do we reduce domestic violence?
-- Should people be allowed to own firearms? Should there be a limit on
the number and kind of firearms an individual might possess? What kind
and what number? Should guns have to be licensed and insured?
With growing fears of the effects of global warming, the environment is
a vital issue that draws considerable concern but few answers.
-- It is unsafe to eat fish from the lakes, rivers and streams in 46 of
our states. What should be done to clean up our waterways?
-- Should we pay for a major federal effort to clean up all toxic-waste
-- Should utilities be required to reduce and eliminate emissions that
cause acid rain?
-- Should private snowmobiles be allowed on public lands? Should
jet-skis and similar polluting sports equipment be allowed in public
-- Should we launch a crash program to develop alternatives to fossil
-- Should we encourage -- or even allow -- nuclear plants to operate
when we don't yet know how to detoxify nuclear waste?
-- How do we reduce the number of cars on the road, especially in urban
areas, especially during rush hours?
-- How can we reduce noise pollution?
-- The population continues to rise, adding increased strain on the
public resources. A third of American births are paid for by Medicare.
Should we actively discourage new births, especially among those who
can't afford to have children?
Those are only some of the questions that might be asked in and around
the principal issues. Here are a handful of others that, being less
obvious, might force a candidate to think on her feet.
-- Do you favor a national identification card?
-- Should we reduce the work week to thirty hours?
-- Should we require welfare recipients to work for the community?
-- Should the post office end deliveries on Saturdays and Wednesday to
reduce overhead and pollution?
-- Should private companies be allowed to control genetically modified
-- Should homosexuals be allowed to marry? Should government get out of
You will rarely get to ask these questions of a candidate, unless he is
nailed to the floor. But they certainly could provoke some interesting
responses. Some are sort of specious; others are serious.
-- How often do you check your email? What is your favorite search
engine? Where do you get your news? How many calls do you make/take on
your cell phone each day? How much television do you watch? What are
your favorite programs?
-- Do you read newspapers and magazines? Which ones? How often? What are
your favorite books? Authors? Should reading be encouraged?
-- How much time do you spend alone? How do you stay healthy in both
body and spirit? When do you get angry?
-- Why did you decide to run for office? What is your vision of America
in five years? What do you hope to accomplish? How much do you intend to
spend on your campaign? What role do consultants play in your campaign?
-- Who are your heroes and why?
-- What kind of people do you get along with best?