The first 2016 Democratic primary debate is happening Tuesday night on CNN, and if the last Republican primary debate was any indicator, we should brace ourselves for an onslaught of lame, inconsequential questions that will leave us less prepared to make up our minds than we already are. CNN’s Republican debate was a farce. Will they do any better tomorrow night? Only time will tell.
Even if CNN only asks four real, meaningful questions of each candidate, the debate will at least be quasi-palatable. So here are four questions we’d love to see CNN ask Bernie Sanders, and four different questions we want them to ask Hillary Clinton. If you’re either a Sanders or a Clinton supporter, please feel free to chime in and answer on behalf of your candidates in the comments below!
Four Debate Questions For Bernie Sanders
Question #1: Our planet is on the brink of World War III. Iran and North Korea are pushing to become nuclear powers. ISIS is carving up the middle east and threatening the safety and security of the world. Pakistan is a nuclear state that might be one violent coup d’état away from arming terrorists with nuclear weapons. As president, how will you address these very real, very serious threats? What foreign policy experience can you bring to the table?
Question #2: Most of your ideas are populist, supported by a vast majority of Americans. But acquiring these things will require bipartisan support. How do you plan on bringing Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats on Capitol Hill into the fold and influencing them to vote favorably on these issues, without compromising the legislation itself with ulterior agendas from these other parties?
Question #3: Many liberals find your stance on gun control to be questionable at best. As president, what measures would you take to reduce gun violence in America and curb violent crime in general?
Question #4: You’re overwhelmingly winning in Iowa and New Hampshire, but still losing nationally. What steps have your campaign taken to pick up ground in the later primary states? Do you feel your momentum from presumably winning Iowa and New Hampshire can carry you through Super Tuesday and beyond?
Four Debate Questions For Hillary Clinton
Question #1: Most Americans, particularly those of us who are progressive, want to see major, sweeping campaign finance and lobbying reforms. But unlike most of the other 2016 candidates, you haven’t said much of anything about ending Citizens United, gerrymandering, or otherwise getting big money out of politics. This is a very serious issue that directly impacts every other issue on the table in major ways. Do you have any concrete plans to bring about lasting, meaningful change to how elections are funded and/or the amount of pull lobbyists have on Capitol Hill?
Question #2: You’ve often been criticized for “evolving” on progressive issues far later than you rightly should have. Can you explain to us the emotional and intellectual processes that led you to finally come out in support of LGBT rights and marriage equality? Or why you’ve decided recently to oppose TPP after so many months of supporting it? Or what led you to eventually oppose Keystone XL? Be honest, Hillary: were these decisions emotionally motivated, or politically motivated?
Question #3: Let’s not sugarcoat this, Hillary: Republicans, especially on the far-right, hate you. That’s a strong word, but fitting nonetheless. How will you manage to get anything done when you’re potentially facing even tougher opposition on Capitol Hill than Barack Obama has? How will you fight back against “the Terror Caucus” (The Tea Party, Liberty, and Freedom Caucuses), who refuse to compromise on anything and won’t be satisfied until they bring down the entire Federal Government? What can you do to bridge this divide that Bernie Sanders can’t?
Question #4: Many of Bernie Sanders’ ideas resonate strongly with the American public, most notably with regards to implementing true single-payer healthcare, campaign finance reform, and his ambitious college tuition plan. Do you feel you’ve been dragged to the left on these issues by Sanders’ popularity? Which of his policy ideas, other than his tuition plan, might you consider implementing into your own platform, if any?
It’s a CNN Debate: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up
Will CNN ask anything this substantive during their debate tomorrow night? Probably not. I’m sure it’ll be more nonsense questions, parsed by a confusing, awful debate format that does little to encourage serious debate. But we can at least hope that someone at CNN has the courage to stand up to their producers and ask meaningful, tough questions of all the candidates, particularly Sanders and Clinton, either of whom might be our next president, as well as Martin O’Malley, the odds-on favorite to take the Veep spot on someone’s 2016 ticket. We know there’s a seed of real journalism buried somewhere within you, CNN. Now we just need you to find it.