The 9 Debate Questions We Want to Hear

Of course topics such as affirmative action and black unemployment won't come up. But we can dream.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News
Win McNamee/Getty Images News

(The Root) — So far we’ve heard the presidential and vice presidential candidates asked questions about jobs, Libya and abortion. But as I’ve written about, we haven’t heard them asked questions about how they plan to improve the lives of the poor or people of color.

Those are just some of the subjects that have been overlooked in the debates so far. There are many. So below are a few of the questions that many of us watching wish someone would ask the candidates, even though it’s a long shot that anyone actually will.

1. Why do you actually want to be president?

This may seem like an easy question for a presidential candidate, but were Sen. Ted Kennedy still alive, he would tell you that it’s not. In one of the more embarrassing moments of his career, a reporter asked him why he wanted to be president and Kennedy gave a long, rambling answer that made it clear he didn’t really have a good answer — or reason. Though he continued an illustrious career in the Senate, that moment is one of a handful credited with dashing his presidential hopes.

After his unenthusiastic, disappointing and seemingly disconnected performance in the first presidential debate, President Obama has some Americans wondering if he still wants to be president. Giving a compelling response to the question “Why do you still want to be president?” could possibly go a long way toward convincing voters that he still does and deserves another chance.

But both President Obama and Gov. Romney, like Sen. Kennedy, already have more money and power than the average person, so many of us would love to hear why they feel they absolutely need the title of “president.” If they couldn’t tell us that in one sentence, that would tell us a lot about them — and not necessarily anything good.

2. Do you have any close friends of a different race?

Yes, this is controversial. But considering that there is an affirmative action case before the Supreme Court that could affect the racial makeup of higher education, and subsequently employment, for years to come, understanding a candidate’s personal experience with racial diversity in his personal life would provide some relevant insight into his worldview and, possibly, what will shape his policies.

3. Affirmative action in higher education is currently being reconsidered before the Supreme Court. Do you support affirmative action in any form, and do you believe legacy admissions should benefit children of privilege like your own?

Though they are of different races, Romney and Obama have something in common: They both attended Ivy league universities, and they have children who have and will continue to benefit from the privilege that their economic status and last names provide. Therefore, this question would provide insight not only into their administration’s policies but also into their perspectives on privilege.