I came across a website a few weeks ago that had questions that the presidential candidates would answer from younger voters. The questions were very relevant for the time, and poked at issues that have not been convered in the national debates. I read the questions, very exicted to see the responses from the candidates. However, what we got is the same BS slinging crap that we've heard during the national debates.
Also, I don't go into analyzing Nader's responses because:
1. Who cares what Nader has to say! Hahah, just kidding. It's very important to pay attention to third party statements about reform. I'm not sure why, maybe they'll have some good ideas, but I don't know.. I haven't read his responses yet.
2. He has no change of winning.
I will at some point go into more depth regarding all of this, adding in comments about Nader's responses as well as a point system (woohoo!). This is just an initial rundown. (Update 10/14/04)
The questions and reponses
I'll go through them one by one offering some commentary. Please note for anybody reading, I am not analyzing the candidates answer, merely their ability to answer the question at hand.
1. ISSUES OF MORALITY:
Kerry's response: Short, to the point. Doesn't answer the question. Notice how it says "and if not, what will you do to change the law?". Kerry says he thinks "the death penalty should only be used for terrorists" but never says HOW he will change the law, just that he will adhere to it. A very short and pointless reponse to a fairly valid question.
Bush's response: Wow, classic Bush. He pussy-footed around the question, saying how he supports capital punishment when it's "fair and guilt is certain", but like Kerry, he never really answer the question. Like Kerry he never says if executing a minor is OK, which was the question.
2. SOCIAL SECURITY:
Bush's Response: Nice, at the very end he got the 'no new taxes' part in there. However, he answered the question saying he's in favor of reforms to the current system so it can adapt to the 21st century. Notice though how he just says 'in favor' and never says he'll actually change anything. Great political blow-speech. UPDATE: Looking back at the question and response it appears that Bush does answer the question.
Kerry's Respone: Meh, sounds like an attack on the administration. "We would have move money if Bush hadn't squandered it" sort of thing. He does say he wants some reform, but the answer it too short to go into detail about the changes.
3. FOREIGN POLICY:
First off, I want to say, I think this question is of an extreme importance. Why were we attacked on 9/11?? Because someone hated us. So how do we stop the attacks? Well, there is the 'nieve' approach (in the eyes of some Americans) that say you try to get them to stop hating you. There is the other approach that says you go out and kill everybody that hates you. Personally, I'd rather see people stop hating us. So this question is very important, it's basically a "how do you plan to get people to like us again" question.
Bush's Response: There is a very subtle point to Bush's response. I'll let you come to your own conclussions but he still fails to answer the second part of the question, which is how to rebuild the relationships around the world he so subtly tore down during the invasion of Iraq. Once again, didn't answer the question.
Kerry's Response: Hmm, right away.. nice touch... everybody loved Teddy, he did a great job. Good way to incorporate him into the response. He does seem to understand the point of the question though. For Kerry this is a tough subject. The Republicans have raked him over the coals for saying he wants a 'global test' and wants the backing of other countries, leading people to believe that he wouldn't protect America when neccessary. Kerry seems to touch on each subject possible, which is good. First he mentions historical statements from highly regarded past leaders (Roosevelt) then he goes on to say how Bush's administration has 'bullied' and that "they have undermined the legacy of generations of American leadership. And that is what we must restore." He goes on to further state how he will fight terrorism and build alliances. Much more rounded and thorough answer then Bush's.
This question is mostly irrelevant since it's pretty clear there will be no draft... the bill was recently shot down some incredible amount... so no comments here.
5. ELECTION/VOTING REFORM:
This is one of my favorite questions because it's both hard to answer for the candidates (who wants to give up power?!) as well as very vital to the future of the "democracy" in our country. I think the sham of the 2000 election will probably happen again (where the people in the US voted in majority for Gore but Bush is in office). Pay very close attention to the question: "What are your positions on instant-runoff voting and proportional representation? Do you currently, and would you in the future, support any reforms to encourage a greater diversity in our political system?"
Bush's Reponse: Bush apparently didn't read the question, or maybe he read the title of the question and that was it. In no part of his answer did he say anything about instant-runoff voting, proportional representation or a greater diversity in the political system (stop this bi-partisan government). If I was giving out scores I would give a F- for having no clue what is going on.
Kerry's Reponse: It's pretty hard to tell what Kerry is saying here (no shocker). He talks about "electoral reform". WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! He talks about voting rights. VOTING RIGHTS WERE NOT PART OF THE QUESTION! Kerry would also get a F-!
6. DRUG POLICY:
Bush's Reponse: Woohoo, Bush is in his area and he knows it. So what does he do? He reminds America about his "No Child Left Behind Act". At first I thought Bush was off on one of his tangents, but then at the end, BAM, he answers the question!
Kerry's Response: Kerry's reponse is short and to the point. He basically says he will change the policy, but his reponse just doesn't come off as clear as Bush's
Kerry's Response: Short as typical for Kerry during this "debate". He basically says that he wants 20% of our energy from renewable resources by 2020. Seems weak and unassured. How is he going to do this? Bills, policies, asking nicely!?
Bush's Response: Good solid answer from Bush. He's always taken heat for his environmental policies and his answer here is showing he wants us to move away from oil.
8. EDUCATION (SEX ED):
This question has a sly little hint to it. Look at the second part, "do you believe abstinence is enough?"
Bush's Response: He talks about dumping more money into abstinence programs, saying it's the only true way of avoiding preggers and STDs. While true, it's pretty nieve to think you can get kids to stop having sex. He never really answers the second part but answers the first part well.
Kerry's Response: Very short, very to the point and answers both parts of the question.
9. CIVIL RIGHTS:
Bush's Response: I'm not sure about Bush's answer. He makes it clear that he wants marriage to be between a man and woman, which he has always said (no flip-flopping there!!). But look at the question, asking why the candidates won't talk about marriage AND civil unions. Bush never says anything about civil unions. The question has a slight tone of "respect gay people". Bush fails to answer the question.
Kerry's Response: He answers the question.
10. HEALTH INSURANCE:
Kerry's Response: He touts his healthcare plan but never really firmly answers the question. He talks about lowering the cost by $1000 but never says if he will reform it so that people in her situation (pre-existing condition) get covered. If I was her I would feel like my question wasn't answered, but given some hope my child would be covered.
Bush's Response: Just like Kerry he talks about lowering the costs, but doesn't address the first part of the question. Her son doesn't even GET health coverage because of current restrictions, so lowering the cost for health insurance she isn't GETTING isn't exactly going to make her feel good. So just like Kerry, I don't think Bush really answered this question fully.
Kerry's Reponse: He answers the first part of the question, but doesn't give an example where he changed his mind. This would have been a PERFECT time to explain why he voted for the 87 million and then voted against it.
Bush's Response: He didn't answer it, he didn't even try! This is not only rude to those who put these questions together, but combined with his response during the second debate to a similar question shows an unbelievable amount of arrogance for a man in his position.
12. TOLERANCE FOR THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT:
This question was asked by people of non-voting age. I think it's important though because it addresses a large concern from the people who are against the gay-marriage constitutional amendment, which is, do you think it's ok to legislate faith. Notice too it's from someone in Colorado... booya, rock on the Big C-O!
Bush's Response: A solid response that ties in well to his image. Faith is a large part of people's lives and it's impossible for a man raised on faith to ignore his beliefs when making important decisions. He makes this point very well in his response. However, he never mentions anything about any other faiths, he was asked specifically "..is it conflicting to take a position on issues based on Christianity.. when not everyone in America believes in God or Christianity?" He never answers this question directly, so I'd say he half-answers it, but half-answers it well.
Kerry's Response: Again Kerry shows his ability to provide short, ambiguous answers during this "debate". He talks about moral guideposts but it just doesn't come across as well as Bush. He does do a subtle job at answering the second part of the question, I got a very "it doesn't matter your faith as long as you have it" sorta vibe.
So some notes about the "Debate" in general:
I have to question the responses. During the live debates we can SEE the candidate answering the question. As much as I want to think Kerry and Bush took the time to answer the questions I have to question if they really did or if some intern on their campaign staff did it. Bush's responses are long, thoughtful, but sometimes off topic. This gives credibility to Bush since his responses are similar during live debates. Kerry's responses are often short and to the point. It makes you think he's answering them in a car as a intern dictates his answers while traveling from event to event. Adds credibility that he actually answered them himself, but you would hope he would take more time to thoroughly answer the questions. After all, it's not like these guys only had 90 seconds! Why are they off topic, why aren't so many solidly answered?!!?
I'm curious to see the rebuttals. This gives the candidates a good chance to THOROUGHLY answer the questions this time around. I'm curious to see how Bush and Kerry rebuttal to #11, since Bush didn't even answer.