If FP nerds were ‘the public’: 15 questions for a more interesting debate

Tonight’s presidential debate will be conducted in Town Hall format. Every election, we’re promised that this will make the event more "unpredictable," but in reality, it means we’re likely to get pre-screened questions along the lines of, "So, what are you going to do about jobs?" If there are any "unpredictable" questions, they will probably ...

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages

Tonight's presidential debate will be conducted in Town Hall format. Every election, we're promised that this will make the event more "unpredictable," but in reality, it means we're likely to get pre-screened questions along the lines of, "So, what are you going to do about jobs?" If there are any "unpredictable" questions, they will probably be something like, "Sanchez or Tebow?" (This is Long Island, remember.)

If, by chance, some of Dan Drezner's foreign-policy voting 5 percenters do make it into the audience, they're likely to ask about issues that have already been discussed ad nauseum on the campaign trail: Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Arab Spring. It's not that these aren't important countries. It's just that we pretty much know what the candidates are going to say about them.

In the spirit of making things more interesting, here are a few suggested questions for the audience if they really want to throw these guys off their game.

Tonight’s presidential debate will be conducted in Town Hall format. Every election, we’re promised that this will make the event more "unpredictable," but in reality, it means we’re likely to get pre-screened questions along the lines of, "So, what are you going to do about jobs?" If there are any "unpredictable" questions, they will probably be something like, "Sanchez or Tebow?" (This is Long Island, remember.)

If, by chance, some of Dan Drezner’s foreign-policy voting 5 percenters do make it into the audience, they’re likely to ask about issues that have already been discussed ad nauseum on the campaign trail: Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Arab Spring. It’s not that these aren’t important countries. It’s just that we pretty much know what the candidates are going to say about them.

In the spirit of making things more interesting, here are a few suggested questions for the audience if they really want to throw these guys off their game.

1. What is your stance on the Scottish independence referendum? (Follow-up question: If you could pick one U.S. state to leave the union, which would it be?)

2. Do you believe the prosecution of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed is politically motivated?

3. Nagorno-Karabakh. Thoughts?

4. Who will be the first to put a human on Mars: the U.S., China, Russia, or Red Bull?

5.   Is the U.S. obligated by article 5 of the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security to go to war to protect Japan’s island claims? Even Okinotorishima?

6. Falklands or Malvinas?

7. Macedonia or FYROM?

8. Is Joyce Banda a genuine reformer? 

9. What are your thoughts on Ollanta Humala‘s political evolution? (No, gentlemen. We will not remind you what countries these are the leaders of.)

10. Given our military presence in Diego Garcia, does the U.S. have an obligation to help resolve the Chagos archipelago dispute?

11. Do you have any concerns about the global potash supply?

12. Is there any reason for Belgium to exist?

13. Japan is about to replace China as America’s biggest creditor. Could you please offer us some meaningless bluster about "getting tough with Tokyo?"

14. Who is America’s most embarrassing ally?

15. Who would you call if you wanted to call Europe? 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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