Most of the questions—and responses—in the three presidential debates had been asked—and answered—several times during the campaign. But there are critical questions that were not asked. Let’s begin with Foreign Policy.
The entire foreign policy debate focused upon the Middle East. While that region of the world has importance to the United States, there are other parts of the world that the moderators and candidates overlooked. Here are some of the critical questions.
● The U.S. is on record as opposing dictatorships, yet supports Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive dictatorships in the world. Why?
● There continues to be murder and rape in the name of “ethnic cleansing” in the Darfur region of Somalia. What have you done about the genocide in that country? What do you plan to do?
● The U.S. hasn’t ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which 193 nations have signed. Opposition has come from the political and religious conservatives. Mr. Romney, if you become president, would you sign it? If not, why not? The U.S. also has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, which 191 countries have signed. Mr. President, you have been outspoken about the need for conservation and environmental protection. Can you please discuss why you have not signed this treaty?
● Mr. President, you promised to close Guantanamo. And yet you are expanding it. We know the Republicans blocked any attempt to move the inmates into maximum-security American prisons, even those state prisons that said they would accept the prisoners. Is there a reason why the inmates could not be moved into maximum-security federal prisons?
● China, Russia, and other countries have established an economic presence in sub-Sahara Africa. Corruption and terrorism are up. Yet, the U.S. seems focused on the Middle East and may be accused of neglecting African countries. What do each of you see as some of the critical issues and what do you plan to do about them in the next four years?
● Somalian pirates continue to raid and kill crews. Mr. President, you signed a treaty with Kenya to allow it to try Somalian pirates. What else have you done and plan to do? Mr. Romney, do you have a plan to deal with Somalia?
● Hillary Clinton has said that there are three legs of foreign policy—defense, diplomacy, and development. The State Department is responsible for two of those positions. What has the U.S. done in areas other than the Middle East to advance U.S. interests in the world? And, Mr. Romney, what areas do you see as critical to U.S. interests outside the Middle East?
● Some of our closest allies are involved in the destruction of whales, sharks, and seals, often using inhumane methods. What are the issues, and what do you plan to do about it?
● The U.S. currently has enough nuclear weapons and delivery systems to conduct either a pre-emptive or retaliatory strike that would eliminate all human life on earth. Are you doing anything to de-escalate the use of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and other countries? And, if elected, what specific plans do you have for the use of nuclear weapons.
Let’s turn to a few domestic issues that were not discussed in the debates—and have been overlooked by the mainstream media covering the campaigns.
● Continuing along the line of a primary duty of the president is to keep the U.S. safe, let’s begin with Mr. Romney. You stated that spending on FEMA is “immoral,” that the government should reduce or eliminate its disaster assistance, and that if you were president you’d try to privatize FEMA. Why do you believe that the government should have no role in disaster relief and recovery? And, Mr. President, Hurricane Katrina would not have been as devastating if there was adequate preparation. What, as president, have you done to assure that defense against natural disasters are a priority?
● A follow-up question to both of you. Several reports have stated there was inadequate communications during both 9/11 and Katrina. What has been done to upgrade communications systems during disasters?
● One of the main problems in any natural disaster is power and water stoppage, both of which can cause severe health problems. In some countries, this is minimal because the lines are underground. This also reduces probability of lines falling on roads and blocking transportation. Do you have specific plans to reduce the nation’s several billion dollars spent in restoration of service and repair by moving power, cable, and telephone lines underground, or by using alternative energy sources to reduce the problems?
● Both of you have stated you believe that all energy sources need to be developed. However, Mr. Romney you have gone on record as favoring the fossil fuel systems of coal, oil, and coal, and have even approved ads accusing the President of trying to destroy the coal industry. Mr. President, you have stated that the future is in non-fossil fuels of wind, solar, and water energy. Please discuss the advantages and the problems of each system. You each have seven minutes and I caution you that I will stop you if you discuss any other issue, interrupt each other, or exceed your time.
● Speaking of health issues, what plans do you have—and please be specific—to increase health care and medical research, including the use of non-embryonic stem cells. And, no, you may not filibuster your view for or against Obamacare.
● President Obama, you spent about $800 billion on the stimulus program to improve the infrastructure of the U.S., including roads, highways, and bridges, and to add jobs to the private sector. Mr. Romney, you opposed this. Can each of you discuss if this was too little an investment, too much of an investment, or a foolish investment?
● Mr. Romney, you are a strong supporter of states-rights. Several states have passed laws allowing for medical use of marijuana. The federal government, however, has declared marijuana in all forms to be illegal, and has authority to prosecute any violation, even in a state that has passed medical marijuana laws. What is your opinion? And, a follow-up question. What is your opinion of states that allow same-sex marriage?
● Both of you claim to represent the interests of the middle class. But, there is another class neither of you have mentioned in previous debates. About one-fourth of all homeless adults are veterans. What specific plans do you have to help all those, not just veterans, in the lower and underrepresented classes of this nation?
Our time is up, and we must now take a half-hour for our networks’ bloviators to try to spin their own political agenda and biases, and then return the home viewers to some insipid reality TV show.
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist who has covered politics and social issues for more than three decades. His latest book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution.]