By Daniel Dunaief
As I write, we are 530 days away from the 2020 election. It’s nice that so many people want to lead this nation. Notwithstanding William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor who is a GOP challenger, it seems clear that the Republican nominee will be President Donald Trump, while the Democratic nominee could come from any of at least 23 candidates — and counting.
I’d like to ask these candidates a few questions to get the ball rolling.
1. How will you try to unify the nation? Clearly, we are a divided country. We can’t agree on anything from abortion to gay marriage to the job Trump is currently doing. We have become the Divided States of America. That doesn’t sit well with those of us who have enjoyed the benefits of a country pulling together through so many crises and conflicts, and who have appreciated the opportunity to travel from state to state, feeling like a part of something that spreads from sea to shining sea — and to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. What will you do in the interest of unity?
2. Is there any way to bring the world closer together? If an extraterrestrial force landed today and threatened society, we would set aside our geographic and historic squabbles, and work together to understand this new species and protect ourselves. Why would it take such a threat to unify humans? Is there any way to spread peace, while allowing for differences? If you believe peace is possible, in what turbulent area would you start and how would you bring any two sides together?
3. Can we establish any political rules? It seems that the old days of agreeing to disagree or civil discourse are gone. Were those measured words and polite disagreements a matter of political correctness and do some candidates benefit from attacking each other? Would all of the candidates agree to a level of respect for each other, for the process and for the American populace?
4. What kind of role model will you be as president? Can you lay out any rules you would follow as president, in terms of what you would do and what you wouldn’t, as our leader? What should the penalty be for you if you don’t follow your own rules?
5. How will you measure your own success? It’s so easy to declare yourself a winner and to tell the country and the world what a great success you are. So many of you will run under the banner of bringing change or steering the nation toward a better or, some might say, great future. Don’t just tell us you’re wonderful, give us an idea of how to recognize it. What metrics will you use to know that you’re successful? Are the polls more important, or is the economy, the stock market or anything else a good barometer of your success?
6. What will you offer children that they don’t get now? Parents often care more about their children than they do about themselves. What will you do to make schools, food choices, activities or other options better for children than they are today?
7. How will you protect our elections? It’s clear that other nations feel like they can influence our elections. What can you do to ensure that the process proceeds as it should?
8. What’s wonderful or great about your spouse or partner? What do you admire about this person and what is one of your favorite memories with him or her?
9. Do the ends justify the means? Is it as important to ensure that the journey obeys certain rules and that the country follows a specific compass, or is it acceptable to get to the final destination by any means necessary?