Until now, the media’s questioning of Democratic Party presidential hopefuls has often been expectedly obsequious and misleading. Questions typically come in two forms: 1) “Just how evil is Donald Trump?” or 2) A policy question larded with euphemisms and framed in a way that makes it little more than an in-kind contribution to the campaign.
These are just some of the questions they should be asking instead.
Many Democrats in states like New York and Virginia support laws that strip virtually any obstacle to obtaining an abortion up until the moment of birth. According to studies, the majority of women who seek these abortions do not do so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment. Do you believe that a mother should have the right to obtain an abortion of a viable baby up until the moment of birth if the mother claims emotional stress?
Do you believe babies who survive botched abortion procedures should be, through the purposeful neglect of doctors, allowed to die if that is the mother’s wish? Do you believe doctors who allow infants to die should be afforded special protections by the law?
Specifically, what limits, if any, do you believe should be placed on abortion?
A number of presidential hopefuls, including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, and Beto O’Rourke, have expressed support for the “Green New Deal.” Do you also support it?
The “Green New Deal” calls for eliminating all fossil fuel energy production, which includes not only oil but natural gas, one of the cheapest sources of American energy, and one of the reasons the United States has been able to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction. How do you propose eliminating nearly 90 percent of American energy usage in 11 years? If not in 11 years, how many years do you propose reaching this goal?
The “Green New Deal” also calls for eliminating all nuclear power within 11 years. This move would purge around 20 percent of American energy production — far more than other inefficient “green” energy sources (solar power, for example, although heavily subsidized and mandated by government, only produces 1.3 percent). Do you support this policy?
Eliminating fossil fuels production would effectively be a tax of trillions of dollars on American consumers through spiking costs and massive infrastructure changes. Every car in America, for example, would have to be retrofitted to run on electricity. Should the government pay for the costs to families? How will we pay for it?
The U.S. oil and gas industry supports more than 10 million jobs in the United States. Will you retrain millions of people to work in far more expensive energy fields that produce far less efficient energy? How will people whose industry has been shuttered by government policy find new jobs, pensions, and health care?
The “Green New Deal” calls on the government to ensure that people give up their “non-essential individual means of transport” so they can use a “high-quality and modern mass transit.” Do you agree that certain Americans should be banned from owning cars if it helps the environment?
If you don’t support the “Green New Deal,” do you support a national ban on fracking? Do you support the long-term efforts to artificially spike the cost of fossil fuel through cap-and-trade policy or a new carbon tax?
Turning to gun violence: You often use the term “assault weapon” to describe semi-automatic firearms. Since “assault weapon” isn’t an official category of firearm, can you explain what kind of guns you mean?
And, if you could, would you be in favor of a national ban on all semi-automatic weapons, even for law-abiding citizens? Do you believe that is something America should strive for? Specifically, what types of guns would you like to see banned? There are likely to be a few hundred million of these weapons in the country; how do you propose confiscating them?
On the issue of health insurance, do you believe, like a number of Democratic Party hopefuls, that private insurance should be banned in the United States, and that Americans should be forced into a government-run plan? If not, how can Medicare for “all” work?
The “Medicare for All’” policy is estimated to cost taxpayers around $32.6 trillion over 10 years. Even in the best-case scenario it is estimated that instituting a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent would raise a little more than $700 billion over that decade. How do you propose paying for the other $31.9 trillion?
Do you believe nationalized health care should also be used as a means of enforcing social policy? For example, do you believe that nuns, and other Americans who run religious institutions or businesses, should be forced to pay for insurance that provides birth control and abortifacient drugs even if they hold a longstanding, faith-based opposition to such things?
Do you support “free” college?
Are you concerned about the moral hazard of such policy? For example, do you worry that it would incentivize more students to take majors that interest them rather than ones that lead to productive work in the job market?
How long will Americans be able to go to college for free? Will the government pay for a person to pursue postgraduate doctoral degree in any subject he or she wants? How many times could an American drop out of college and go back for free? How old could an American be for the government to pay for his or her degree?
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris supports banning all for-profit colleges in the United States. Around two million Americans, many of them adults who are parents or already in the work force, are enrolled in such institutions because of the flexibility they offer. Do you agree with her that citizens should not be able to attend colleges like, for instance, the University of Phoenix?
Candidate Elizabeth Warren is proposing a special annual confiscatory tax on the wealthy. Bernie Sanders is proposing levying up to a 77 percent estate tax on wealthier Americans. Do you believe taking money from a certain class of people for the sole purpose of redistributing it to another class comports with the Constitution?
The top individual income tax is the largest source of U.S. revenue. Right now, the top 20 percent of American earners pay nearly 90 percent of all income tax. What percentage do you believe would be a “fair share?”
Do you believe socialism is on par with capitalism as a useful economic philosophy?
Do you agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that border walls are “immoral”? California, for instance, shares a 140-mile border with Mexico, about 105 miles of which is walled or fenced, including a giant fence that juts into the Pacific Ocean. Is that wall immoral, as well? If border walls are immoral, should we take down the ones that exist?
Do you believe that Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be eliminated?
Freshman Democrats in Congress have accused Israel of being “evil” and hypnotizing the world. Others want to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. Do you agree with those who say that the Jewish state can’t be democratic? Do you agree with those in the Democratic Party who say Israel is like Iran, just another theocratic terror state? Do you support the divestment and boycott of the state of Israel?
Many leaders of the Women’s March, which a number of prospective and declared Democratic Party candidates have supported, have both openly allied themselves with anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan and made overtly anti-Semitic statements. Do you believe there is an anti-Semitism problem within the Democratic Party?
Do you agree with Harris (and other Democratic senators, like Mazie Hirono and Dianne Feinstein) that being a practicing Catholic, or belonging to a Catholic organization, is problematic for judges and public officials?
Echoing the long-term position of many Democrats, President Trump has recently argued that it’s time to bring back American troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Do you agree?
Do you believe that Donald Trump is the legitimately elected president of the United States?
Do you believe that Congress should impeach and remove Trump? If so, what would your articles of impeachment say?
Of course, there are numerous other questions out there for journalists and town hall audiences who don’t want to look like campaign surrogates. And many more are coming.