Update 9/28: By popular and expert demand, the existential threat scorecard for tonight’s debate now includes (along with our suggested questions below) any mention by the candidates or moderator of New START—the last major nuclear arms control treaty, set to expire in February 2021 unless the next US president works with Russia to extend it.
Questioning the questioning is part of the ritual of watching US presidential debates. Too many softballs! Too many gotchas! Too many for the candidate I don’t support! But when the moderator for this year’s first debate—Chris Wallace of Fox News—announced the subjects to be discussed, he made it possible to begin the questioning before the debate even begins.
The subjects Wallace listed are clearly worthy of voter interest:
But the Wallace list ignores the two largest threats to the future of humanity, nuclear war and climate change. If these enormous potential catastrophes aren’t seen as pressing issues to be debated, where does the fault rest—with the people running the debates, or the people watching them?
We hope Wallace and the moderators of two subsequent presidential debates ask the following questions:
If you’re a watcher, we recommend you keep track of how well things go at the next debate with our handy existential threat scorecard (below). We can’t promise you’ll wind up with high scores—but maybe the moderator and, better yet, the candidates will surprise us and give the most important issues facing humanity the attention they deserve.
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