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Issue of the Week: Presidential debates

Illustration by Holly Randall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 6, 2004
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This Friday, the second presidential debate will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Unlike the first debate, a town-hall format will be implemented with members of the audience asking questions. Given this valuable opportunity to personally question the candidates, what issues should the audience bring up?

Laura Keslar

Keep jobs in America

Even before the beginning of the first debate, many of us were already tired of the hackneyed arguments that the candidates have batted around all summer. After all, how many more times does Senator John Kerry need to mention his three Purple Hearts or George Bush need to talk how Saddam Hussein has been brought to justice?

But instead of focusing on non-issues during the debates, it would be nice, for once, for the candidates to focus on the issues that are important to Americans - like jobs and outsourcing.

When it appears that jobs are continually flowing overseas to the detriment of Americans, of course outsourcing will be foremost on most of our minds. We want jobs and we want them now. When we leave the university, we want to know that we have a job waiting for us.

Hearing that candidates want to keep American jobs here is great and all, but it would be greater for them to propose a feasible solution to keeping jobs in America. Hopefully they can show some innovation. Yes, you can monetarily reward companies for keeping jobs in the country and you can reduce taxes but that can only do so much.

And where is the discussion about the benefits of outsourcing, like a more efficient assignment of human capital, more consumer choice and more inexpensive products?

If the candidates desire to score points with the constituents, an honest debate over their proposed policies on outsourcing will be imperative to winning us over.

Laura Keslar is a pre-pharmacy junior. She can be reached at

Lauren Peckler

Environment should not be ignored

In light of Kerry and Bush fighting over five votes from swing state Nevada through the issue of Yucca Mountain, I think it's time environmental issues are brought to the stage.

Located just 90 miles outside of Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain entered the political arena in 2002 as Bush proposed it be a nuclear waste depository for decades-old radioactive leftovers from bomb testing.

Environmental issues lately are a mounting weakness for the Republican Party because of Bush's reputation for manipulating science and favoring big business. Knowing this, Democrats jumped all over the Yucca Mountain controversy in hopes they would grab Nevada and its five electoral votes. Candidates regard issues like the environment purely for political strategy.

The clear problem in the election today is that environmental issues do matter. They should be a at the forefront of their campaigns because it's unacceptable that 45 percent of our lakes are unsafe for swimming or fishing, or that Bush favors oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or that 80 percent of all city pollution comes from automobiles.

All too often, candidates only promote the issues that have political value. For the next presidential debate, the environment needs to be the topic of discussion because it's an emerging problem in our society that must not be ignored or exploited for votes.

Lauren Peckler is a sophomore majoring in English and sociology. She can be reached at

Moe Naqvi

Bush, Kerry: Talk to the students, please

Presidential debates are quite possibly the most annoying pieces of entertainment to watch. Yes, even more annoying than "Garfield: The Movie." One day, presidential debates will appeal to general audiences by having each candidate covered in egg yolk every time he/she stutters or makes a funny face. But until those days, all intelligent voters know they must bite the pillow and watch the debates in order to receive a wholesome view of each candidate's agenda.

The next presidential debate is this Friday and what I would love for George "Wizzle" Bush and Jo-Dawg Kerry to cover are issues concerning the college population.

Those two little rascals spent way too much time "talking about" foreign policy and homeland security, instead of actually "explaining" what they planned to do about each topic. I learned nothing educational from the debate and I'm pretty sure I actually became more stupid when I turned off the television. In order for Bush and Kerry to keep a large portion of their audience, they are going to have to start addressing collegiate issues.

What concerns college students more than the insane gouging of video game prices? Who said that all new videogames must be $49.99? College students worship video games and food.

However, too often are we forced to give up our three meals a day in order to shell out $50 for "Madden 2005" or "Dance Dance Revolution Extreme East Coast Style 2012." If Kerry and Bush talked about setting constrictions on video game prices, I would definitely not turn off the television and neither would you.

It would also be great if the two candidates chatted on setting a national regulation making it illegal for pedestrians to use labeled bikeways. College campuses have a mammoth amount of bicyclists, and most of those bicyclists have at least trampled one unsuspecting pedestrian.

However, a national law regulating pedestrians to get off bike paths would reduce hospital visits and eventually reduce the cost of health care for those individuals. A national law concerning bike paths would be beneficial to both bicyclists and pedestrians.

Let's go Bushy. Let's go Kerry. Get the rumble on these issues down in St. Louie on Friday.

Moe Naqvi is a physiological sciences freshman. He can be reached at

Brett Berry

What about the oil?

One of the most important issues currently facing our country has yet to really be addressed by either candidate during the campaign. The question that must be asked of each candidate should be: What do you plan to do to solve our country's long-term energy problems - specifically, what would you do to break our collective petroleum addiction?

No, drilling for more oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge does not constitute a long-term solution. Calling for improved fuel efficiency and the creation of more incentives for things like hybrid cars is a good start and should be the short-term policy for both candidates. But what is your grand vision for solving our oil problem?

Mr. Bush, if hydrogen-powered cars really are the wave of the future, then what progress has been made in their research? Were you just trying to appease us by putting up the funding for that? If it works out, then what will you do to ensure that car and oil companies go along with the idea?

Mr. Kerry, do you have any real ideas of what direction our energy policy should go? What alternative fuels research are you referring to on your Web site in regard to energy independence? How effective will your proposed incentives to auto manufacturers and consumers really be to counter our oil dependency?

We need a real solution to this real problem that our country faces - not patronizing promises. It's time to come up with a genuine plan.

Brett Berry is a regional development junior. He can be reached at

Ryan Johnson

Ask about Skull and Bones

How can a single fraternity that initiates 15 each year lay claim to both presidential candidates? It's a question that deserves to be answered, if for no other reason than to spice up these debates.

I mean, everything else in the debates is so predictable. How many times do we have to listen to Bush call Kerry a flip-flopper?

Quit tossing softballs. Make them cringe. They'll look each other in the eye. What they do at that time is anyone's guess. Some say they're instructed to walk out of the room.

Three presidents, four if Kerry wins. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Multiple senators and representatives. Chains of power extending high up and out wide. Standard Oil. Morgan Stanley. Washington, D.C.

Who would speak first? In the rare instances that a reporter asks one about Skull and Bones, Kerry usually cracks a joke while Bush laughs. But neither has ever answered a question.

One Kerry response to a Skull and Bones question: "You know, I would love to debate the president right now. There are so many issues to talk about for America." Way to avoid the question.

If for once they couldn't, it would lend instant credibility to these monotonous debates.

Ryan Johnson is an international studies and economics junior. He can be reached at

Keren G. Raz

Constitutional rights on the line

Kerry and Bush have spoken very little on one issue, and it's time they brought it up.

The issue is the future of the Supreme Court.

It's predicted that whoever wins this election will have the opportunity to appoint three judges to the Supreme Court to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist, who just turned 80, John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the court at 84, and Sandra Day O'Connor, who is 74.

The next president could replace a liberal justice, the conservative chief and the moderate.

In the past two years, some of the most significant cases that the Court has decided have ended in 5-4 decisions with O'Connor as the swing vote.

In 2003, the Court upheld the University of Michigan's admissions policies that considered race as a factor. That decision, which even President Likins weighed in on in a brief to the Supreme Court, recognized the need for universities to consider diversity in its admissions process.

A 5-4 decision also upheld vouchers and struck down state bans on partial birth abortions.

One new justice is all it takes to reverse some of these critical decisions.

No matter whom you support, no matter what your views are on these issues, constitutional rights are on the line.

The next debate is a town hall format. Hopefully someone will bring this crucial issue up for everyone's sake.

Keren G. Raz is a senior majoring in English and political science. She can be reached at

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