Better Debate Questions, Please

October, 2016

Washington -- For the final presidential debate of 2016, could we please have better questions for the candidates? We need questions that would help us discover what knowledge the candidates have about actual problems facing the country. Many of the questions in the first two debates were at the fourth-grade level. We need a few questions that require candidates to deal with subjects at least at the college undergraduate level, if they presume to be president.

How about questions on:

• Federalism. What are the current problems in federalism and how can they be solved?
• Nuclear Triad. Is it obsolete?
• Food. Describe the connections between federal agriculture policies and the health of our citizens.
• Industrial Policy. Do we need the tools of industrial policy to revitalize manufacturing?
• Congressional Branch. Why is it broken and how can it be fixed?
• Bipartisanship. Identify areas of common interest that the two parties could unite on without compromising party principles.

Sorry if this reads like a mid-term exam in a sophomore year college course, but perhaps that's what's needed to get the candidates beyond glib, one-sentence answers or laundry lists of talking points. Give the candidates five minutes per question, including moderators' detailed follow-up questions, to let us see what the candidates actually know beyond the lines they have memorized to get cheers and headlines.