“We will gather around the laptop by the asado fire in our mantas to watch with the huasos!”
By Thomas Gaulkin, September 28, 2020
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:
- The Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
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:
- This year, record-breaking wildfires, storms, and ice-melt and rising temperatures have buttressed scientists’ warnings that the climate is changing due to human activity, and time is running out to take action to avert a planetary catastrophe. What role should the United States play?
- With New START about to expire, a half-century of nuclear arms controlefforts are nearing their end. What will you do to prevent a new nuclear arms race?
- How will your administration address our allies’ diminishing trust in US commitments to international organizations and multilateral engagement?
- The United States’ investment in science was the envy of the world for close to a century and helped make the US an economic and cultural leader. What role does science play in your policy?
- What will you do to turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock?
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.