It's a Free Country is partnering with the Personal Democracy Forum in the 10 Questions project. We're asking you to submit questions for the candidates in this Fall's elections, many of whom have pledged to provide answer. We thought we'd ask some of the regular IAFC contributors to write about what they would ask the candidates - you can submit your own questions, browse others, and vote on your favorites here.
After watching how we all comported ourselves during the primaries, I guess the biggest question we should be asking is “have you no shame?” But, that’s a rhetorical question at this point, right? It seems the only thing we’re all actually able to agree on is that our national political and cultural conversation is as dangerously dopey as it’s ever been.
Still, dopey is as dopey does, and often the ones who decry the dopiness the most are the dope peddlers. In about a month-and-a-half we may begin to get some answers to our questions, like:
Where’s my president? The president is everywhere but where’s Captain Obama, the guy who was more powerful than a locomotive and could leap Sarah Palin in a single bound? Amazingly, this Superman has been reduced to Clark Kent with nary a phone booth in sight. Who would’ve thought, two years ago, that some Democrats would actually be trying to keep their distance from Obama at election time? Can Obama pull on the superhero tights and save his majorities this fall, or is he content to take his chances with a different colored landscape?
Where’s my job? Neither party seems to have an answer for this one, at least not in this economy. Most economists say we shouldn’t expect to see a noticeable increase in hiring for a couple of years. But what about that not a second stimulus plan the President came back from vacation to tout? I think I saw it over there, next to the robust public option. Neither party is in the mood to promote anything that smells like more government spending, even if a hundred economists agree that the first stimulus was too small to do what is was supposed to do, and that maybe some more stimulus might, you know, stimulate. Is there a Democrat out there who would dare to argue that stimulus = investment?
Can I come out of the shadows yet? New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez insists that he’ll push this Congress to enact “comprehensive” immigration reform, meaning more than just passing the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act. Is there really enough political courage in Washington to deal –comprehensively--with immigration reform when something small like a $50 billion (I said don’t call it a stimulus) plan is deemed dead on arrival?
Who’s invited to this Tea Party? Most of the media were reporting on Tea Party “victories” in New York and Delaware like the party of Beck had somehow swept the midterms. Some Democrats feel like their party actually did pretty well this week, confident that some of the wackier of the TP elements will say or do something else to further solidify their fringe label. As November nears, will Tea Party candidates need to do more than yell, “we’re mad as Hell” for general election voters to buy their brand, or are voters content to simply hear the echo of their own discontent? A caller to a New York talk show said she voted for the Tea Party-backed gubernatorial candidate because “Maybe we need someone who’s a little outrageous, a little cuckoo.” Ask, and ye shall receive, evidently.
Lastly, will anybody care come November? Like it or not, the onslaught of coverage that will heat (but not likely light) up our autumn nights has already begun. The primaries were just the warm up. A month-and-a-half is more than long enough for political fortunes to be lost and found, and found and lost again. It’s gonna seem even longer for those of us who have to watch and hear it all happen.
David Cruz is a New Jersey-based journalist. He has covered statewide and local politics for a number of radio, TV and print outlets, hosted talk shows on WBGO and WNYC, and contributed essays and feature stories to NPR’s Latino USA, All Things Considered and Morning Edition.