Twelve Questions for this Fall’s Presidential Election

Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party

W.J. Astore

Here are twelve questions for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, followed by quick answers about where they stand, based on what they’ve done as well as what I’ve heard them say in various speeches and debates.  To avoid any confusion with her husband, I refer to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary.”

Which candidate is going to:

  1. End America’s wars?

Hillary will continue them.  Trump has questioned whether they’re worth it.  Advantage Trump.

  1. Tackle global warming?

Hillary believes in science.  Trump apparently doesn’t, though he’s taken steps to safeguard his properties against climate change.  Advantage Hillary.

  1. Reverse Citizen’s United and get corporate money out of politics?

Hillary has said she’ll do something; Trump hasn’t.  But Hillary is dependent on corporate financing.  A wash.

  1. Work to reduce the growing gap between the richest 1% and everyone else?

Hillary talks about fairness, raising the minimum wage, and equal pay for women.  Trump wants to restore American jobs through tariffs and trade wars.  Whether either candidate really cares about the working classes is debatable.  A wash.

  1. Rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, ensuring safe roads, bridges, and water supplies?

Both candidates talk a good game.  The problem is: Where is the money coming from?  Trump’s tax breaks that favor the rich may literally bankrupt America; Hillary’s war and social spending will absorb most federal funding.  A wash.

  1. Reject trade deals that hurt American workers?

Hillary was for the TPP before she was against it.  She and Bill were also for NAFTA.  Trump talks about helping workers even as his companies shift jobs overseas to save money.  A wash.

  1. Pursue a domestic political agenda that doesn’t vilify minorities and the vulnerable?

Hillary is far better than Trump at promoting a message of inclusion.  Advantage Hillary.

  1. Respect the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers, i.e. reject the “Unitary Executive” model?

Neither candidate promises to rein in executive authority.  Both are power-hungry and secretive.  A wash.

  1. Rein in the burgeoning national security state and its lockdown mentality?

Trump is seemingly more skeptical about military spending and is less encumbered by neocon conventions.  Yet he stokes fear of the outsider, which feeds the lockdown mentality that plagues America.  Hillary boasts of strengthening national security and cultivates hawkish elements while rejecting any cuts to war spending.  A wash.

  1. Work for quality public education?

Neither candidate has spoken a lot about public education.  But Trump has joked that he likes the under-educated since they’re many of his most ardent supporters.  Stupid is as stupid does.  Advantage Hillary.

  1. Reduce the prison-industrial complex?

Hillary’s husband’s policies are partly responsible for the complex, though now she says she wants to reduce America’s reliance on prisons, which target minorities disproportionately.  I haven’t heard Trump articulate a clear vision on this, except to vow “on day one” that he’d restore law and order to America.  Slim advantage to Hillary.

  1. Respect the environment, e.g. end fracking?

Hillary promoted fracking while she led the State Department.  Trump simply promotes business and making money.  I don’t see either as having any deep-rooted respect for nature.  A wash.

Score Card: Score 1 for Trump, 4 for Hillary.  And 7 for candidate “Wash.”

Jill Stein in Philly

What if Green Party candidate Jill Stein were included?  She might edge Trump and Hillary on all of these questions.  I think Bernie Sanders would score 11 out of 12.  His one failing during the primary was his reluctance to say he’d rein in the national security state.  What a shame Bernie is out, especially since he was beaten neither fairly nor squarely.

What about the Libertarians?  I have limited exposure to Gary Johnson, William Weld, and their party, but here’s a quick cut and paste job from CNN:

“First, libertarianism is more than just an economic ideology. It’s a social one. And many Libertarian social positions — an openness to immigration, an embrace of equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender persons, a hostility toward the war on drugs and American militarism abroad, and support for women’s reproductive rights — are arguably more progressive than the average Democrat. Libertarians were supporting marriage equality and marijuana legalization, for instance, long before any mainstream politician — Clinton included — would touch those issues.”

“Second, even on strictly economic issues, Libertarians have a lot to say that should appeal to those on the left. Libertarians have long been sharply critical, for instance, of the ways regulations such as occupational licensing requirements are used to protect the economically powerful at the expense of the poor and marginalized. They’ve fought against subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of “crony capitalism” that benefit the few at the expense of the masses. And — contrary to popular perception — Libertarians have often argued in favor of a well-designed social safety net to protect those who fail to benefit from the economic dynamism of a free economy.”

A quick look at my 12 questions coupled with interviews I’ve seen with Gary Johnson suggest that he’d easily score higher than Hillary and Trump but lower than Stein and Sanders.

Here’s the deep irony for America: The most interesting candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, are the ones marginalized by the system.  They are not allowed to debate.  They are judged “not ready for prime time.”  And the weakest candidates, the most deeply compromised, Hillary and The Donald, are the ones who are given the lion’s share of attention and respectability.  They are celebrated.  They are prime time.

Only in America.

6 thoughts on “Twelve Questions for this Fall’s Presidential Election

  1. I met the Big Red Head when he was pressing the flesh when i was still on the Fire Dept. in Brockton. He stands about 6′ 7″ I was unimpressed with his Limp, Weak Handshake, and utterance of “I’m Bill Weld” I also Read one of His Books, he’s a Published Author– So what never did much for Us Working Class Firefighter’s…


  2. Equally as important are questions for someone who has a virtual lifetime in politics with a questionable record which our “free” press rarely asks and seldom does any extensive reporting on. Also reporters allow a candidate to use words like racist and racism about their opponent but never ask what is the proof and evidence. Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton have used racism and racist in relation to our society implying our society is racist and to their political opponent. Where are the what, why and how questions to them on racism and racist in the nation. As a result of such lack of inquiry of national figures a string of consistently mediocre people are elected damaging the nation from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama. These elected officials operate in a virtual press free zone. We have a mainstream press and TV news which often promote misinformation by not challenging elected officials to state their facts or just ignoring information and facts which challenge elected officials. (George W. Bush would have never had elected without the Supreme Court ruling which in a way overruled our increasingly biased press. The Supreme Court interfered in an election and its ruling should have reverted it to the state of Florida for an entire recount.)

    Bill Clinton signed legislation ending Glass-Steagal which helped cause the Wall Street meltdown and our “free” press is silent on it, especially TV network news. Also more democrats than republicans voted for the financial bailout of Wall Street.

    Also there is scant coverage of elected officials who have subsequently profited enormously since the bailout increasing their multi-million dollar investments. Coincidence or were these elected officials by the Wall Street bailout protecting their money rather than the nation’s? Again, this pivotal issue for the nation is ignored. Who benefits from lack of vital information? Also there have no reports or scant reporting on savings interest which today is negligible when prior to the bailout it was much higher. Are the American people still paying for the bailout with negligible savings interest? Are we developing a corrupt media and political system?

    The decline of the country rests to some extent on our mainstream press and TV networks whose bias and agenda driven news has distorted news reporting influencing elections by not accurately presenting news with pertinent facts. The examples are endless: crime in major cities is not a major news focus, substandard public education in cities is not a focus, lack of jobs not a focus. What have elected officials actually accomplished? A classic example is “ObamaCare”. Most of the people benefiting from it are on expansion of Medicaid. OK, more people are on health care but does this solve or worsen the health care costs for the entire nation? This has not been reported on mainstream TV news or covered adequately. There is a black out on news that is pivotal for the nation’s progress. Does CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS cover the Benghazi debacle? Or do they ignore it like the fact that Hillary Clinton was fired from her job as a staff attorney for Watergate committee for lying?

    This is not about perfect reporting but fair and unbiased news reporting which is lacking at the national level which calls into question the ethics of the journalism profession. If the national election coverage is biased it indicates bias is endemic in the mainstream and TV news with far reaching election and policy implications.


  3. Item Number One: End America’s wars

    Do this and most of the other items will either solve themselves or recede to managable proportions.

    Advantage to anyone but You-Know-Her.

    Start impeachment proceedings on Inauguration Day. We already know about the crimes — and will probably know of even more when Wikileaks next practices journalism in the land that seldom experiences it. Of course, You-KNow-Her and the Kept Corporate Press propagandists will blame Vladimir Putin and the evil Russians for forcing Julian Assange to inform us of what our own government wants to hide. But I, for one, refuse to accept You-Know-Her’s already-in-the-can selection lying down. …

    I remember Richard Nixon’s “landslide” victory in 1972, followed shortly by his savage “Christmas Bombing” of North Vietnam, followed by his impeachment and resignation. Then, in 1975, a Democratic Party Congress cut off all funding for the War on Southast Asia and the stupid bloody crime of aggressive war came to a screeching halt — at least for awhile. So we know how to implement Item Number One, fellow Crimestoppers. I can just see You-Know-Her standing in the door of her private helicopter, with both arms raised above her head with the fingers of both hands flashing the “V”-for-victory sign as she flees the nation’s capitol for a cushy retirement in disgrace, just like the Tricky Dick Nixon she has come so much to resemble.

    As the sage of our age, Yogi Berra would say: “It ain’t over till its over.”

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