This should be a big election about big issues. The greatest financial crisis since the Depression. Soaring global debt. Collapsing public infrastructure. A broken health care system. Gilded Age inequality. Two disastrous occupations and a failing “war on terror.” Yet, until Wall Street imploded this weekend, it seemed as if no one could move the 24/7 mainstream media beyond the trivial. Tired of talking about swine and lipstick, moose and baby bumps? We are.
That’s why The Nation‘s lead editorial this week calls for an end to gotcha journalism and the politics of distraction and diversion. It’s time to say, Enough! Let’s refocus this election on what’s truly at stake. To that end, we’re laying out a series of questions in the magazine and at TheNation.com that we believe should be asked of both candidates–not only in the upcoming debates, the first of which takes place just one week from this Friday–but by a mainstream media that seems, well, “hell-bent” on reporting on the election as if it’s a new hit reality show.
Here are some of the questions we’d like to see asked of the candidates:
• The business-financial establishment and leading corporate-financed think tanks are leading a major lobbying campaign to cut people’s benefits from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Will you promise to oppose these efforts?
• The United States is hemorrhaging debt from its trade deficits – $700 billion a year – what is your plan to stop the bleeding?
• We’re losing jobs at an increasing rate. States and cities are gearing up for deep cuts in construction, schools, and health care. The Federal Reserve has committed over $500 billion to backstop banks and investment houses, and the Treasury has just guaranteed 5 trillion in loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What is your plan to help kick start the real economy?
• Do you agree with Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs, who insist that the Pentagon budget must grow?
• Why would you promote NATO expansion as a security building policy considering that had Georgia been a member of NATO when it launched its attack on Southern Ossetia, under the Treaty’s Article Five guarantee the US would now be at war with Russia?
• The US has the highest childhood poverty rate of any industrialized nation with 20 percent of children under age 6 living in poor families, costing about $500 billion dollars per year to the US economy, or 4 percent of GDP. What is your plan to reduce childhood poverty during your administration?