The big issues of the day – environment, the economy, public health, immigration – don’t lend themselves to one-word or even one-sentence solutions. During an election campaign, candidates and sometimes voters want simple, clear answers to complex problems. Expecting bumper-sticker answers to challenging issues isn’t possible in a big, complex country. Sometimes it’s even dangerous.
But this election year, there are several questions all candidates should be asked where a one-word answer – Yes or No – is appropriate and easy to give.
The first question for any candidate at any level, from city hall and school board to the Congress, should be “Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump?” If the candidate answers Yes and really believes it, they are too gullible and lack the critical thinking skills needed to hold public office. If they say Yes but don’t believe it, they are just cowering to the voters of TrumpWorld. A Yes disqualifies them from office and the questioning should stop.
Second question: “Should abortion be banned?” If Yes, “should there be an exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother?” A Yes or No will be sufficient.
Congress passed and the president signed the most significant gun-safety legislation in three decades. Some people say even stricter laws are needed, so three Yes/No questions: 1) Should assault-style weapons be banned? 2) Should all gun sales – public and private – be subject to background checks? 3) Should high-capacity magazines be banned?”
Here’s an extra-credit question about Social Security and Medicare for candidates running for federal offices. The senator leading the campaign to elect more Republicans to the Senate, Rick Scott of Florida, announced his “11-point Plan to Rescue America,” which includes putting all government programs – including Medicare and Social Security – up for renewal every five years. Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, suggested they should be eliminated as federal entitlement programs and instead be approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending.
The question: “Should Congress regularly vote on keeping Medicare and Social Security?”
Of course, these Yes/No answers won’t give voters a complete understanding of a candidate’s position. They only cover a few of the flash-point issues receiving attention because of Supreme Court decisions or recent events such as mass shootings.
Before casting ballots, voters should start with these basics and then seek deeper answers to questions about what candidates would do about climate change, the economy, public health and immigration. Those issues aren’t easily answered with bumper-sticker slogans. Candidates need to offer detailed, fact-based plans and voters need to take the time to ask questions and listen to the responses.