We asked some of Nation readers’ favorite writers what they’d ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if they were moderating the first 2016 presidential debate on Monday night—just in case NBC’s Lester Holt needs some inspiration from his friends in independent media. Read on for questions from Katha Pollitt, Joan Walsh, David Cole, Laila Lalami, Mark Hertsgaard, and more!
On growing the economy and curbing inequality
Joan Walsh asks Hillary Clinton: You have an expansive, progressive economic agenda. But you’ve repeatedly said it must be deficit neutral. A lot of progressive economists say your plans can’t be enacted without at least a short-term increase in the deficit. The economist Paul Krugman, who supports you, says while interest rates are low, this is actually an opportune time to borrow money, especially for our infrastructure needs—which can both employ people and repair roads, bridges, and mass transit in ways that help businesses and workers. Why do you insist your programs remain deficit neutral?
On climate change
Mark Hertsgaard asks Clinton: The Democratic Party platform includes a pledge to mount a “World War II–style mobilization” against climate change, which scientists say is urgently needed to avoid leaving our kids a ruined planet. Would this mobilization copy what the United States actually did during World War II, such as retooling automobile factories to produce electric vehicles and introducing price controls to discourage burning coal and oil?
On race and desegregation
Eric Foner asks both candidates: Half a century after the civil-rights revolution, racial segregation in public schools and housing is as entrenched as ever. Should reducing such segregation be an objective of the federal government and, if so, what specific policies should be adopted?
Katha Pollitt asks Donald Trump: You’ve called for criminalizing abortion and even for “punishing” women who seek them. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who want to ban abortion entirely: Your vice-presidential pick, Mike Pence, is one of the most aggressively anti-abortion governors; Marjorie Dannenfelser, the nation’s most powerful anti-choice lobbyist, has joined your team; and you’ve been endorsed by the extremist leader Troy Newman, who has long called for violence against abortion providers. You’ve promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. You want contraception to be available over the counter, but without insurance coverage, which means many women won’t be able to afford it. Could you explain how your position on reproductive rights benefits women’s equality, freedom, and health?