So far, the presidential debates have been so full of personal attacks and vitriol—and lacking in discussion of policy positions and issues—that they’ve been dubbed the worst ever and the “lowest moment in the history of debates.” And even when the debates have included substantive discourse over serious topics like the economy, Obamacare, and foreign policy, they’ve ignored dozens of other important issues. For example, in the first two debates, roughly 82 seconds in total were devoted to climate change.
Well, third time’s the charm, right? Maybe Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be asked some serious questions and offer thoughtful answers at tonight’s final debate in Las Vegas. (Just re-reading that sentence and realizing the location of tonight’s face-off, I’m rolling my eyes, but you never know.) The announced topics for the debate, to be moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace, are debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign “hot spots” and fitness to be President. But, as was made evident in the last two debates, some of those topics might not be addressed since both candidates have shown a willingness to pivot to their favored issues and points of attack.
We asked readers on Twitter and Facebook to submit their suggested questions for the candidates at tonight’s debate. And you delivered, with a strong list that included everything from H-1B visas and early childhood education to internet privacy and tax cuts for small businesses. And several of you had one clear instruction: To actually answer (at least one of) the questions in a “direct, complete manner.”
• Neither of you has said much about H-1B visas (for skilled immigrants) and legal immigration in general. Are you in favor of keeping the H-1B program at current levels or expanding the number of visas that are issued?
• To repeat a question suggested by Sophie Cruz, the 6-year-old daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants, which was ignored at the second debate: “What happens to me if you deport my parents?”
• How would you work with Congress to pass immigration legislation? (Also a question suggested by FWD.us, the immigration reform advocacy group founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.)
• What specific steps would you take to address income inequality?
• How will you make housing more affordable for all citizens?
• What specific steps would you take to can you do to keep jobs in the U.S.?
• Given that automation is transforming industries from manufacturing to the service industry and is likely to transform everything from truck driving to legal assistance in the coming decades, what would you do to address the resulting loss of jobs?
• Mr. Trump, you’ve said that Apple will manufacture its products in the U.S. when you are president. We lack most of the technical infrastructure required for large-scale consumer electronics production. What will you, as president, do to change this?
• Online harassment is becoming a bigger issue, with some states indicating a willingness to criminalize behaviors considered “revenge porn.” Is this wise? Constitutional? How do we protect victims without impinging on rights?
• Would you prosecute Edward Snowden?
• Secretary Clinton, many news outlets have published emails related to your campaign that were disclosed by WikiLeaks. Is this ethical? Should it be legal?
• Did you agree with the FBI’s demand that Apple help it unlock the iPhone of suspected San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook? And speaking of encryption, where do you draw the line between privacy and security in such matters?
• Do you believe that climate change is real? Explain your answer.
• What steps would you take within the next four years to fight climate change?
• Clean energy could be a major boost to the economy. What will you do to make sure that there are substantial new jobs created to help us address this essential step forward?
• Do you think that Citizens United should be overturned?
• What do you think of a constitutional amendment to publicly fund elections, so “our representatives can stop making bad and financially wasteful decisions that satisfy their campaign donors”?
• Are you in favor of term limits for members of Congress?
• Should we redistrict all congressional districts by zip code? Yes or no, please explain your position.
• Will you both unequivocally accept the results of the presidential election?
• Do you support Common Core?
• What would you propose to improve early childhood education?
• Student loan debt tops $1 trillion. What would you do to address this crisis?
• Are you in favor of raising the age limit for Social Security? If so, what would the new age be, and when would it take effect?
• What does the notion of a free press mean to you?