Americans Elect Question System: A Step Forward, but What’s to be Done with Them?
Around about Halloween of this year, the new combination of political party and corporation called Americans Elect rolled out a section it calls “Debates”. There aren’t really any debates in the “Debates” section, just a series of questions that anyone who signs up with Americans Elect can offer. That’s a good thing. The more questions that Americans Elect will allow people to ask, the more that … well, that people are asking questions.
The really meaningful result of all this isn’t the questions themselves, but the answers. According to Americans Elect, the most popular of these questions will be put forward to all Americans Elect candidates, who will answer the questions.
Currently, the most popular questions are:
1. American public education is far behind the standards set by comparable nations, yet economic problems are creating further cuts in education. In the economic climate today, how can American education be brought back to compete internationally?
2. Considering the state of the US budget, do you believe that the tax system should be reformed? If so, what specific reforms would you suggest?
3. Corporations are currently given same rights as people. Do you agree or disagree with this legal practice, and how would your administration’s policies reflect that perspective?
4. It’s been said that the energy race is the next arms race. How important is the search for new sources of energy and how should the US approach the situation?
5. Technology is advancing at an accelerating rate, but so much of our system runs on centuries-old bureaucratic processes. How would you promote the utilization of technology to rid government of inefficiency and to become more effective?
6. What would be your ideal healthcare system for America? Please be specific about how it would be funded.
7. How do you plan to deal with nations who wish to acquire nuclear weapons (e.g., Iran and North Korea)?
8. The US has created a military presence around the world that is unmatched in history. With troops in 130 countries, the cost of militarism and empire is tremendous. As Commander in Chief how would trim the bloated military industrial complex?
9. Renewable energy sources are preferable to non-renewable ones; however, current technology makes renewable ones less efficient. What incentives/rewards would you use to aid the private sector in making such sources more efficient?
10. What is your plan to reform the Tax-Code and Tax System? Please be specific in your answer.
With the possible exception of Question #8, none of these are unusual questions. Most of these questions (with the possible exception of Question #8) have been regularly asked of presidential candidates in mainstream media debates.
What Won’t Be Done With These Questions?
What won’t be done with these most popular questions, the core questions for people who have signed up with Americans Elect?
They won’t be used to form the core questions of the Americans Elect corporation, that’s what. Without any member input, Americans Elect picked its core questions back in September of 2011:
ECONOMY: What is your stance on the US budget deficit? Are in you in favor of more spending cuts, more tax increases or some combination of both?
ENERGY: What is your stance on America’s energy needs? Do you favor investment in renewables or more drilling or some combination of both?
HEALTHCARE: What do you think the government’s role in health should be?
IMMIGRATION: What is your stance on illegal immigration? Do you think that all or most illegal immigrants should stay in the country or all or most illegal immigrants be deported?
FOREIGN POLICY: When you think about the US pursuing its interests abroad, to what extent should the US listen to other countries?
EDUCATION: What is your stance on educational curriculae? Should it be set by the local school boards, by national standards, or some combination of both?
SOCIAL ISSUES: When you think about the rights of same-sex couples, do you believe they should be allowed to marry or only allowed to form a civil union?
ENVIRONMENT: What is your stance on our use of Natural Resources? Do think it exists for the benefit of humanity or should it be completely protected or a combination of both?
REFORM: Should we make this country great by returning to the values of our forefathers or keep building and adapting for the future?
These core questions create a base from which Americans Elect offers all Americans who sign up an ongoing conversation about the issues they care about.
This morning, Americans Elect is rolling out a candidate information center — a center in which some presidential candidates (proposed by Americans Elect, mind you) are elevated and others placed lower on a priority list… based not on how these candidates respond to Americans Elect rank-and-file members’ questions, but based on how they respond to Americans Elect’s corporate-selected questions. Americans Elect’s corporate-written questions are playing the central role in promoting certain candidates; the questions of regular people are hovering in the background.