An Open Letter to Aspiring Presidential Candidates: Seven Questions

Source: Gallup, Various Political Campaign Websites

Yesterday, I invited all of the current declared Presidential nominees to my site for a 10-question interview on all elements of their policies ranging from healthcare to international security. I suggested that I would post a series of 7 questions on this site this week and send each candidate three tailored questions if he or she accepted my invitation.

Without further ado, below are my seven questions:


1. What do you see as the top three most important national security challenges for the United States, today?

2. What is your plan to grow the United States economy and reduce unemployment?

3. How do you intend to reduce the budget deficit and federal debt?

4. What do you see as the federal government’s role in education policy, if any?

5. What is the role of government?

6. Do you see climate change as a major threat to humanity? If so, why? If not, why not?

7. It is 2015, and the Chinese navy sinks a Vietnamese patrol craft in the South China Sea. Immediately following the incident, the Chinese declare the roughly 425,000 kilometers of sea surrounding the Spratly Islands to be a Chinese Maritime Exclusion Zone. The Chinese navy further declares that it will sink any ships transiting this area without explicit Chinese authorization. How would you react to this situation?

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
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12 Responses to An Open Letter to Aspiring Presidential Candidates: Seven Questions

  1. Moe says:

    How about “do you beleive in evolution?” “How old is the earth” “When is the apocolypse coming?” “Should Texas seceed”.

    Not fair to all I know, but that stuff embaresses me for my country.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    Well, just in case anyone wants to write me in as an independent for President, here are my answers:
    1. Competition for energy resources, a potential backlash from third world states using technology and terror to hit a West they blame for global poverty, migration in response to poverty and climate change.
    2. Cut entitlements, raise taxes on the upper 10%, and invest in infrastructure that can support production of products for which we have a comparative advantage (which won’t need long term subsidies). I suspect the recession is medicine that we’ll have to keep taking for a while – we’re rebalancing 30 years of living beyond our means.
    3. Same as two — besides cuts in spending and increases in taxes, if we grow the economy that will bring our debt to a sustainable level.
    4. To assist state and local efforts to assure a high quality and competitive education for our children in order to build the economy of the future.
    5. My view is government should try to promote equal opportunity (rather than equal outcomes). People should not be held back from having the opportunity to succeed by their status in society or class/race, etc. Second, government should provide rule of law, holding leaders accountable to the same rules as all citizens, designed to protect basic rights and personal security. Third, government should work to promote the US on the global stage, both protecting citizens from threats, and working to promote fair global markets.
    6. The possibility that it is a threat to our way of life is great enough that I think it prudent to take preventative action. The science I read shows a strong correlation of increased CO2 to higher global temperature averages and more extreme weather. The models of what this could mean show the potential of major disruption to our way of life. The EU is starting to lead us in green technology because they choose to abide by the Kyoto accord, meeting its targets, and now setting more ambitious targets. Even if it turns out the scientists are wrong, being prudent in avoiding the risk could be very good for the economy.
    7. I would reject the Chinese claim, convene an emergency security council meeting to discuss it, and immediately talk with leaders in the region to develop an alliance designed to work together to put economic pressure on China and make them see that their actions are contrary to pursuit of their interest. Most importantly, I’d try to exploit the fact that within the Chinese government militarists and economic liberals have been in competition. Such a move would be a power play by the militarists and the best result would be to help the economic liberals overcome them in China’s internal politics. This would require tricky diplomacy — too harsh a reaction could benefit the militarists, as could too weak a reaction. Secret talks with members of China’s government would be necessary to help assess what actions would work best.

    (PS – I had to google Gary E. Johnson, I’d never heard of him)

  3. Scott Erb says:

    I think you’ve constructed a more difficult scenario than that. First, this is more serious than 95-96, which at that time was symbolic after the Taiwanese President came to the US. If China made a move to control that much sea, they would no doubt expect a US show of force (they will have learned that from Clinton) and have a response already prepared. It would tell me: a) the militarists are winning the bureaucratic war in China; and b) they have calculated that their economy can withstand the US taking an economic hit (they are confident their markets are diverse enough, etc.). Their response would likely be economic – dumping US bonds or currency, something undercutting the dollar. That would also suggest that they don’t believe we’d undertake military action in response to measured economic actions, even if those did real harm to our economy. Therefore, I think the key would be to get a regional response that convinces them that the need to back down out of self-interest. I don’t think they’d pick that kind of fight unless they already thought they had it won.

    • Of course. Step 1 would be to send the carriers (they need to be in place just in case). Step 2 would be to start gearing up the nation’s cyber war capability. They can’t sell treasuries if their market shuts down. Then I would talk first, once the components of my plan B were in place. Step 3 would be to shut down the Strait of Malacca if the Chinese dump our Treasuries. If they want to shut us down, we can shut them down just as effectively. My response would contain much more nuance, but these would be the broad strokes.

  4. I want to know if Scott is throwing his hat in the ring??

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