Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) candidacy has not been treated seriously by the media or his supporters quite frankly, and has mostly become a cipher about how various people feel about President Bill Clinton’s record. (So much of the strong feelings about Secretary Clinton have been about her involvement in her husband’s Administration, rather than about her own record, but I digress.)
Clinton’s main response to Sanders so far has been disbelief that his campaign narrative was able to call into question her own progressive identity. Eager to push a contrast, the O’Malley and Clinton campaigns have mostly limited themselves to drawing attention to Sanders’ record on gun legislation. Sanders’ has mostly responded by defining himself as he wishes and telling us nothing about his views on Executive power and his proposed uses thereof.
Here are the questions that I think the next Democratic debate should ask Sanders (and by extension Clinton) so that we can learn more about what they want to do with their Executive Power, given that the legislature is currently controlled by the Republican Party and incumbents tend to win re-election.
1. As Mayor of Burlington, you pioneered a model to allow more of that community to have access to affordable housing and home-ownership. How will you guide federal housing policy to replicate this success nation-wide, particularly among communities of color?
3. What is the relationship between immigration and wages? And how will your policies treat undocumented residents with equal concern and respect, while growing the economy?
4. Do you support a path to citizenship? What is the relationship of that path to securing the border?
6. Why did you vote against the 2007 immigration reform bill?
7. What are the top three administration bodies in need of a regulatory overhaul from more zealous enforcement? How will you ensure that these administrative bodies more effectively execute their duties?
8. The Obama Administration has regularly sided with police officers accused of brutality (in fact, Obama’s DOJ has supported police officers every time an excessive-force case has made its way to arguments). How will your Attorney General’s office differ from this approach, if at all? If not, why not? If so, why?
9. Downsizing the federal government has hampered the ability of the government to use data-driven findings in its program administration and evaluation. What steps will you take to increase the share of federal government funds used for research and evaluation purposes across all of its domains? How will you improve the contracting process for public universities, MSIs and small businesses to participate in this form of public service?
10. Felons and citizens on parole are denied the right to vote, and have various, very large hurdles for re-enfranchisement depending on the state in which they are incarcerated. What will you do to guarantee universal suffrage?
12. Many non-urban areas are increasingly expensive to get to and have poorer national infrastructure in the aftermath of de-regulation. In an increasingly interconnected world, the difficulty of transport in and out of these places is creating divergence between areas of prosperity with good rail and airline service and places with less prosperity and access. What policies will your administration pursue to grow non-urban areas?
13. As more Americans live in denser environments, the types of transportation options which can service their daily needs, from ride-sharing programs to increased investment into public transit, differ from what has traditionally been supported by the federal government, namely car-focused sprawl and transit. What policies will your Administration pursue to support the development of more environmentally-friendly transportation options?
14. The United States is involved, through its special forces or military deployments, in many countries abroad. Some argue that if the United States does less, there will be more chaos and more violence in the world. Can you identify three places in which we have current deployments that are unnecessary to our national security? How would your Administration identify where and how the United States should use force abroad?
15. Some United States interventions and foreign policy objectives have created massive waves of displacement. What responsibility does the United States have to accept refugees and asylum-seekers from conflicts in which we are involved, however cursorily?
16. Does the United States currently accept too few, too many or just the right amount of refugees? Why should we not do more or less in permanently settling refugees from around the world in the United States?
18. In order to establish Democratic control of Congress, the Democratic Party will have to expand its map as well as increase its presence in state houses and state governorships. In fact, other than the Presidency, the Democratic Party is around some its lowest points of representation. How will nominating you for President affect the electoral map, both at the state and the district level?
19. How will your Presidency and control of the Democratic Party increase its competitiveness at the state and district levels?
20. How long have you served in Congress? What are three of your major legislative accomplishments during this time period? What are two legislative regrets?
21. Are there any corporate mergers approved in the last ten years that should have been denied? Are there any mergers denied that should have been approved?
22. What will be your Administration’s approach to evaluating prospective corporate merger deals?