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Bush, Kerry, and Nader Respond to Youth Voter Questions 1312

Slashdot readers both contributed and helped moderate questions for the New Voters Project Presidential Youth Debate. You can read the answers below, but if you'd like to see an expanded introduction, thumbnails of the candidates, and different formatting, go to the Youth Debate page. And that's not all: We're supposed to get candidates' rebuttals on or about October 17, so don't touch that dial!

Opening Statements:

President George Bush:

America's youth is at the heart of our great country, providing the energy and vision that will soon lead this Nation. Young people across America are engaging in activities to better their communities and ensure that their opinions are heard. Yet despite the energy and activism of many youth, less than half of eligible voters, ages 18-24, voted in recent national elections. The youth voice needs to be heard - so I encourage you to make sure that it is!

I am excited to be participating in this online debate, because it engages young people and challenges them to think about the issues and the leadership that will affect the future of our country. I would like to thank The New Voters Project Presidential Youth Debate, for providing this forum to connect with millions of young Americans. And I would like to thank you for your interest. As this election nears, it is increasingly important that the youth of America cast their ballots to determine the next President of the United States. I hope that on November 2nd, you will give me your vote - and vote for a leader who will continue to promote a prosperous, safe, and secure America.

Senator John Kerry:

We are a can-do country, I am filled with optimism and hope by our nation's young people. The young people I have met throughout this campaign inspire me with their ingenuity and their dedication to creating a better future for America. I would like to thank The New Voters Project Presidential Youth Debate and Anthony Tedesco for allowing me the opportunity to address the concerns of the youth of today because they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Mr. Ralph Nader:

Thank you for inviting the Nader-Camejo campaign to participate in "The New Voters Project Presidential Youth Debate." We appreciate the work of the founder, Anthony Tedesco, who has produced these debates for America's youth since 1996. It is an honor to be the first non-major party candidate invited to participate. [Please note: All candidates who met the criteria detailed in The Appleseed Citizens' Task Force on Fair Debates were invited to participate.]

Young voters and future voters are especially important to the Nader-Camejo campaign as one of our goals is to find and help develop future leaders of America. I have always seen the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.

Today we are at a critical point in history and you have an opportunity to lead a mobilization that shapes your future. Both corporate-controlled political parties are taking our country over a cliff, the Democrats are just doing it a little slower. Political pundits will tell you to accept the lesser of two evils, to support an overall pro-war, pro-corporate globalization party, and put your idealism on the shelf. I, like many of you, have reached a breaking point with the two-party system. It either must be driven toward the people or driven out in the coming years. You have a choice - drop out or drop-in.

This campaign is a call to action for the young people of America.

We need a world where politics is activated by vision, not fear, where media is created by people, not corporations, where energy is produced more from the sun and less from oil, where business is driven by human need, not greed, and where foreign policy is dedicated to justice -- not war. No Justice, No Peace.

We need your energy, your passion, and your commitment to help build a more just, equitable world - a world of happiness and the fulfillment of human possibilities. We are developing a 12-year plan to help young Americans to take control of their future and change our political system.

We encourage you to read our website for deeper discussions on the issues presented here - We invite you to join with us in this effort to engage more voices in the political spectrum and urge you to pass this message on to all your family, friends, classmates, and instant messaging buddies. Together, we can declare our own independence from corporate rule.

Questions and the Candidate Responses


The United States is one of the only nations in the world that executes juvenile offenders, putting us in the company of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Why is the United States on this list? Do you believe executing minors is a good policy, and if not, what will you do to change the law?
- from lead moderator Farai Chideya, 35, of NY

Senator John Kerry Responds:

I believe that the death penalty should only be used for terrorists. I do not think that executing minors is good policy. I will, however, enforce the laws of the land.

President George Bush Responds:

The justice system of the United States has long been a beacon and example for the world, and is grounded in the principles of equality and impartiality. Unlike the legal systems of many other nations, the law assumes innocence unless guilt is proven before a jury of peers. The imposition of capital punishment is reserved by the government as the severest sentence for the gravest of crimes - like the terrible bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

I support the death penalty for heinous crimes, but only where the process is fair and guilt is certain. And I believe strongly that if it is administered justly, fairly, and swiftly, capital punishment serves as a deterrent to crime. With respect to the age at which individuals should be eligible for the death penalty, Federal law prohibits execution of those under 18 when the offense was committed, and I see no reason to change that statue. The Supreme Court will soon consider whether the Constitution requires states to follow a similar rule.

To increase the level of certainty regarding the guilt or innocence of the convicted, I have substantially increased funding for DNA testing. I proposed $236 million in Federal funding in FY 2005 for my Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology initiative, part of a total five-year funding commitment of over $1 billion. This program will improve the use of DNA in the criminal justice system and ensure that DNA technology reaches its full potential.

Many young people turn to crime at a young age, because they lack necessary guidance or education. The best way to prevent youth crime is to attack its causes, and my Administration has put several programs into place to do precisely that.

My Administration supports mentoring programs that help at-risk youth stay on the right path by providing them with adult guidance and educational opportunities. These programs have particularly targeted children of prisoners, who are statistically more likely to commit crimes.

Project Sentry combines education and law enforcement initiatives, to prevent future crime by connecting young people with respected members of the community.

Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, my initiative for enforcing existing gun laws, Federal gun crime prosecutions have increased by 68 percent during the last three years. The violent crime victimization rate is at its lowest level in 30 years.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

The Nader/Camejo campaign opposes the death penalty in any form, particularly the odious practice of executing minors. The government enforces the death penalty unfairly along lines of class and race. Furthermore, capital punishment does not deter crime. It results in innocent people being executed, and corrupts the exemplary status of the state. To reverse this, we need to call for an immediate moratorium on executions, especially of juveniles. We must invest in humane treatment, personal involvement of youngsters, and job creation. We need to restore sentencing discretion to judges by repealing mandatory sentences and arbitrary "three-strikes" laws. We also need to restore due process, judicial discretion and constitutional restraints on law enforcement that violate equal protection and due process of law.


In regards to social security, as a professional 25-year-old worker I'm concerned that I'm paying into a system, which is severely over-taxed and will be non-existent when I reach retirement. I would like to know what steps will be taken to either ensure I will get the benefits I've paid for, or to allow me to no longer contribute to Social Security and use that extra income to invest myself for my retirement, most likely in a Roth IRA.
- from Nathan, 25, of MN

President George Bush Responds:

The Social Security system was established for good reason - to enhance retirement security for working Americans. But your future fiscal security should not have to rely on a system that was established for your grandparents - when life expectancy was shorter and few women worked outside of the home. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying into Social Security for each person receiving benefits. That number has dropped to only 3.3 workers paying into Social Security for each person receiving benefits today. As your parents and members of the Baby Boom generation begin to retire, the number of workers supporting retirees will continue to shrink, and when you and your generation retire, there will be only two workers to support each person on Social Security.

Our Social Security system must adapt to these new realities if it is to remain strong in the 21st century. I favor the establishment of voluntary personal accounts for younger workers. These accounts would provide ownership, choice, control, and the opportunity to build a nest egg that workers could use for their retirement and pass on to their families. To ensure that those who are retired or near retirement have financial security today, I oppose any changes in current benefits. And we will not raise the payroll tax on working Americans.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

We faced a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create real, bipartisan Social Security reform with our record budget surpluses. This opportunity was squandered and the life of Social Security was not extended. My Social Security plan is based on three pillars; growing the economy, restoring fiscal discipline and working in a bipartisan manner. We must end the practice of robbing the Social Security Trust Fund to balance the budget and protect savings for the future.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

Social Security places government in one of its noblest roles: as an institution that offers a bedrock financial guarantee to all members of society that they need not fear the financial consequences of growing old or disabled. That's quite the opposite of the U.S. government's all too familiar role as a provider of corporate welfare, a patsy to narrow business interests that hijack government programs and agencies and convert taxpayers assets into private profits, with inadequate reciprocal benefits to the public.

Our Social Security system is under attack. Relying on a trumped-up "crisis" in our social security program, a band of so-called privatizers want to convert our social security commonwealth into individual, private accounts.

The privatizers mislead the public. They distort returns we are likely to experience from a privatized system. They fail to mention the enormous administrative fees that stockbrokers and insurance agents might conceivably skim from private accounts, and they remain silent about the likelihood of millions of people losing their retirement income in the stock market. They ignore warnings that stock fraud hucksters will inevitably take advantage of people who are encouraged to put their social security money in the stock market.

If the system is privatized, this tranquility will be replaced by anxiety, as we worry about whether we will be winners or losers in the system's roller-coaster ride on Wall Street.

We would defend Social Security from risky privatization plans, ensuring its long-term fiscal solvency. Social Security needs no "saving," only improvement through gradual changes to the benefits and revenue structure. Adjusting the benefit formula for widows and widowers would reduce the poverty rate of 20% for older women living alone. If a small amount of additional revenue is needed, raise the income cap on Social Security taxes or tax executive bonuses and stock options.


The U.S. has been accused of cultural and economic imperialism in the past, and now with the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we are being accused by people around the world of imposing our will on others with force. How do you respond to that, and what would you do to restore our nation's reputation around the world, including any actions you would take that you haven't previously mentioned?
- from Jodi, 26, of IN

President George Bush Responds:

In little over a generation, we have witnessed the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy.

The United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East, which requires the same persistence, energy, and idealism we have shown before. The advance of freedom is the calling of our time, and we believe the freedom we prize is not for us alone - it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

The progress of liberty is a powerful trend. And, today, as we have for decades, Americans are amply displaying our willingness to sacrifice for liberty.

Observers have questioned whether the Middle East, or its people, are "ready" for democracy - as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As we are witnessing, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop - as did our own.

In Iraq, the Interim Iraqi Government is working to build a democracy, as they move toward free elections by January 2005.

This is a massive and difficult undertaking, but one worth our effort and sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.

The first measure of our success and commitment to transform the Middle East and our relations with Muslim communities occurred this weekend in Afghanistan. After decades of brutal dictatorship and violence, millions of people turned out to vote for their next President. They defied the pessimists who said it could not be done and gave voice to all those in the Middle East who want to participate in the democratic process.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

There's an impressive catalog of actions taken by our government in our name and shrouded in secrecy: repeating falsehoods to start an unlawful invasion of Iraq, illegal spending, government overthrows, corporate tax havens, sovereignty-shredding trade agreements, circumventing our courts and agencies, taking nuclear waste from other countries, and allowing advanced weaponry and data to be sold by companies to oppressive regimes. It is no wonder the world considers the United States a belligerent bully that protects corporate interests, not the interests of the people.

America's foreign policy might not consist of a succession of follies if it were conducted and monitored more democratically. American foreign policy must redefine the elements of global security, peace, arms control; call for an end to nuclear weapons; and expand the many assets of our country to launch, with other nations, major initiatives against global infections diseases (such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and virulent flu epidemics) which have and are coming to our country in increasingly drug resistant strains.

Other low cost-high yield (compared to massive costs of redundant weapons) that extend the best of our country abroad include public health measures for drinking water safety abroad, tobacco control, stemming soil erosion, deforestation and misuse of chemicals, international labor standards, stimulating democratic institutions, agrarian cooperatives and demonstrating appropriate technologies dealing with agriculture, transportation, housing and efficient, renewable energy. The UN Development Program and many NGO's working abroad provide essential experience and directions in this regard including ending the specter of hunger, malnutrition and resultant diseases with known and proven remedies and practices. With this foreign policy orientation overhauls we will discover and facilitate the indigenous genius of the Third World, recalling Brazilian Paulo Freire (literacy), Egyptian Hasan Fathi (agrarian housing) and Bangladeshi Mohammed Yunis (microcredit).

Senator John Kerry Responds:

More than a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt defined American leadership in foreign policy. He said America should walk softly and carry a big stick. Time and again, the Bush Administration has violated the fundamental tenet of Roosevelt's approach, as he described it: "If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble."

But that is precisely what the Bush Administration has done. They looked to force before exhausting diplomacy. They bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone when they should have assembled a team. They have hoped for the best when they should have prepared for the worst. In short, they have undermined the legacy of generations of American leadership. And that is what we must restore.

Today, there is still a powerful yearning around the world for an America that listens and leads again. An America that is respected, and not just feared. I believe that respect is an indispensable mark of our nation's character - and an indispensable source of our nation's strength. It is the indispensable bond of America's mighty alliances.

The most urgent national security challenge we face is the war against those who attacked our country on September 11th, the war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. As president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror. My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us.

It's time for a new national security policy guided by four new imperatives: First, I will launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post 9-11 world. Second, I will modernize the world's most powerful military to meet the new threats. Third, in addition to our military might, I will deploy all that is in America's arsenal -- our military, our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas. Fourth and finally, to secure our full independence and freedom, I have a plan to free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil.


Democratic Congressmen Charles Rangel and Ernest Hollings have been pushing to reinstate and change the draft, Senate 89 and House 163. The two bills call for the drafting of women, and don't allow exemptions for college or only children. The Congressmen are pushing the bill under the claim that too many minorities are fighting for our country (, February, 2003). What are the chances of you supporting such a drastic change in our drafting process, and under what circumstances would you institute a draft, or any other national service, to fight a war?
- A combination of 3 questions from Laurel, 21, of FL, Edward, 23, of MA, and Kevin, 18, of IA

Senator John Kerry Responds:

I oppose reinstating the draft, and I am committed to an all volunteer military. Our military is overstretched and overextended. George Bush has effectively used a back door draft of our National Guard and reserves, and used a "stop-loss" policy to extend tours of duty, delayed retirements, and prevented enlisted personnel from leaving the service. This has happened on the backs of the men and women who've already fulfilled their obligation to the armed forces and to our country. Military families are under incredible strain as it becomes harder and harder to balance the demands of family life and military duty.

I will fight to relieve the burden on our troops, while modernizing our military to meet new threats. I have a plan to expand the all-volunteer active duty Army by 40,000 soldiers. Not by draft, and not to increase the number of soldiers in Iraq, but to add new volunteer soldiers trained and ready to meet new threats and relieve the strain on our troops. My plan will bring more of our soldiers, guardsmen and reservists back home to their families and get them time for the new training they need.

I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror. My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us. I have a plan to win the peace in Iraq, and bring our troops home. And I will face the urgent nuclear dangers in North Korea and Iran, which George Bush has allowed to mount on his watch.

President George Bush Responds:

I want to quell the recent rumors that have been circulating once and for all: We will not have a draft so long as I am the President of the United States. In fact, current law prohibits reinstatement of the draft absent legislation and such legislation was recently defeated in the House of Representatives 402 to 2.

I am committed to keeping participation in the United States Armed Services voluntary. In order to win the war on terror, we must ensure that our troops are highly skilled and specialized, and that they are trained and equipped to successfully complete their missions. A draft will not allow us to create the specialized force we require to face our current threats. That is why the all-voluntary military is working superbly, and we do not need a draft.

My Administration has maintained a consistent and firm position on this issue, and we have clearly stated that a draft is not being considered. Recruitment and retention rates remain strong, and the military has not had any problem maintaining a strong force. I am confident in the current state of the military and I have assured the Nation that the all-volunteer military is performing with great strength and valor.

Military commanders in the field tell me they have the personnel and resources they need. If they need more, I will make sure they get it. We have the resources now to meet current and potential threats. I also have great confidence in the men and women of our armed forces, and our Nation greatly appreciates their service and honors their sacrifices. My pledge to our military is that it will have what it needs to fight and get the job done. Our enemies need to know that we are determined, and any effort to test us will draw a strong response. We are transforming our military so that we can meet any test with all the might of this great country.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

The Rangel and Hollings bills not only failed to provide exemptions for college students and only children, but the bills offered no special status for conscientious objectors. Despite the House's recent resounding 402-2 defeat of the draft bills in question, the spectre of a draft remains. With candidate John Kerry calling for 150,000 more troops in Iraq, but not indicating where they will come from, and with President Bush promising endless warfare, American youth must act now to prevent forced conscription.

A back-door draft is already in place. Syndicated columnist Mark Shields recently made the point that "We do not have an all-volunteer service today. The reality is that we now have a limited military draft. But the only Americans who are subjected to the current "draft" are those who have already demonstrated their patriotism by volunteering to serve in the military and have then served honorably. The truth is that as of last month, no fewer than 44,500 American soldiers who had fulfilled their contractual obligations, completed their enlistments and made plans to return to civilian life or retirement were frozen -- by an arbitrary "stop-loss" order -- on active duty."

Coerced military service amounts to slavery, and America can stop the talk of a draft with a dual corporate and military exit from Iraq. Under a U.S. withdrawal, the United Nations should develop an international peace-keeping force from neutral nations with such experience and from Islamic countries. This peacekeeping force should be assembled immediately to replace all US troops and civilian military contractors doing many jobs the Army used to do more efficiently. Americans must support Iraqi self rule and free and fair elections. The US should provide humanitarian aid to Iraq to rebuild its infrastructure. Control over Iraqi oil and other assets should be exercised by Iraqis.


To the candidates, you talk a lot about the importance of promoting democracy in other countries. However, I have never heard you take on the issue of election reform in our own country. The current presidential system seems to have several shortcomings, including two-party duopoly and the ability to win the Election without winning the popular vote. This hardly seems democratic. What are your positions on instant-runoff voting and proportional representation? Do you currently, and would you in the future, support any reforms to encourage a greater diversity in our political system?
- A combination of 2 questions from Douglas, 19, of IA, and Jeffrey, 30, of NC

President George Bush Responds:

I signed the Help America Vote Act, which has provided $3 billion to states and local governments to help make sure the voting process is fair. The law requires jurisdictions to provide for provisional voting, provide voter information at polling places, comply with Federal rules for mail-in registration, and properly manage statewide voter registration lists. It also created the Election Assistance Commission, which is providing assistance to state and local authorities as they move forward on complying with the Act's requirements.

I was also proud to sign into law campaign finance reform, which is helping to improve the integrity of the electoral process by preventing unions and corporations from making unregulated, "soft" money contributions, increasing the influence of individuals, and creating new disclosure requirements.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

All Americans saw in the 2000 election how crucial free and fair elections are for our society. That is why I supported the election reform legislation and continue to fight for electoral reform. Voter intimidation and race-based efforts to stop people from voting are an outrage that we simply must stop. Even before I am elected, I will protect voting rights by providing teams of election observers and lawyers to monitor elections and enforce the law. And as president, I will reform our national election system to correct the problems revealed by the 2000 presidential election.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

Our democracy is in a descending crisis. Voter turnout is among the lowest in the western world. Redistricting ensures very few incumbents are at risk in one-party districts. Barriers to full participation of candidates proliferate making it very obstructive, for most third party and Independent candidates to run. Obstacles, and deliberate manipulations to undermine the right to vote, for which penalties are rarely imposed, are preventing voters from voting. New paperless voting machines are raising questions about whether we can trust that our votes are being counted as they are cast. Finally, money dominates expensive campaigns, mainly waged on television in sound bite format. The cost of campaigns creates a stranglehold making politics a game for only the rich or richly funded. Major electoral reforms are needed to ensure that every vote counts, all voters are represented through electoral reforms like instant run-off voting, abolition of the electoral college, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation, non-major party candidates have a chance to run for office and participate in debates, and that elections are publicly financed.

The Nader/Camejo campaign favors lowering the voting age to 16 years old. Persons aged 16 work, pay taxes and more and more often are subjected to criminal laws passed that treat them like adults. Democracy in the United States needs re-invigoration. Allowing youth the right to vote will increase voter participation, not only of 16 to 18 year olds, but also in the longer term as youth are taught at an early age the importance of voting. Concurrent with this change in law, instruction in school should increase about civics, government and the importance of voting. Rather than explaining all the very good reasons for allowing the youth vote, we believe it is best to let youth speak for themselves.


I have a question about the Higher Education Act (HEA) drug provision. This provision disqualifies students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. Black students and lower to middle class students are unfairly targeted, as wealthier students can afford tuition and need not apply for financial aid. Do you feel it is necessary to deny financial aid to a student who already paid for their crime? Are you aware that students with a rape or murder conviction are not exempt from receiving financial aid?
- Margaret, 20, of WI

President George Bush Responds:

A good education is the most important factor in ensuring your future success. My first legislative priority was the No Child Left Behind law, which is setting high standards and demanding results from schools so that every student completes high school prepared for the rigors of college or to enter the workforce equipped with the necessary skills.

My Administration has worked tirelessly to make available the financial resources that will help more students attend college. My 2005 budget requests a record $73.1 billion in financial aid to help nearly 10 million students attend college, an increase of $25.9 billion (55%) since I took office. My budget also increases Pell Grant funding by 47% since 2001, helping one million more low-income students. My plan also provides low-income students with the chance to receive up to $5,000 in grants to study math or science in college. I have proposed Enhanced Pell Grants to provide additional assistance to low-income students who complete challenging coursework in high school better preparing them for success.

My commitment to our Nation's students is clear. Because of the leadership of my Administration, attending college is a reality for more students - especially those struggling to pay college costs. I also want students to avoid unhealthy and often dangerous activities, such as using illegal drugs. Illegal drug use can have devastating consequences. Taking responsibility for one's actions is another important part of becoming a successful adult.

My 2005 Budget proposes to fix the drug provision of the Higher Education Act so that incoming students who have a prior drug-related conviction would be able to receive Federal student aid, and only students convicted while in college would lose their eligibility for student aid.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

Education is perhaps the best way for someone who has been involved with drugs or crime to turn their life around. If a young person has overcome past obstacles and is ready to go to college, I don't think that a nonviolent drug conviction in their past should prevent them from doing so. And the reality is that preventing them from obtaining federal loans means they won't be able to afford to go to college.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

Repeal the Higher Education Act drug provision as it applies to non-violent offenders. The drug war has failed - we spend nearly $50 billion annually on the drug war and problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. Drug abuse is a health problem with social and economic consequences. The solutions are public health, social services and economic development and tender supportive time with addicts in our depersonalized society. Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control not at the center. It is time to control some illegal drugs through regulation and taxation. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, violence and homicides related to underground drug dealing.

The drug war and criminal injustice system certainly have a racially unfair impact. The facts on this are evident, according to federal surveys, "most current illicit drug users are white. There were an estimated 9.9 million whites (72 percent of all users), 2.0 million blacks (15 percent), and 1.4 million Hispanics (10 percent) who were current illicit drug users in 1998." Despite these facts, African Americans constitute 36.8% of those arrested for drug violations, over 42% of those in federal prisons for drug violations. African-Americans comprise almost 58% of those in state prisons for drug felonies; Hispanics account for 20.7%. From racial profiling to discretionary decisions of prosecutors and judges, African Americans and Latinos are treated more harshly than European-Americans.

By reducing corporate welfare, cutting the military budget and taxing wealth not work, the federal government can guarantee a free higher education to all qualified people. Already more than $155 billion has been spent on the Iraq war, adding to huge Bush deficits, when critical needs are not being met at home. That $155 billion could finance four years of free public college and university tuition for all students.


In the 1960s, a concerted effort was made, at the behest of Pres. Kennedy, to reach the moon within 10 years, an incredibly ambitious goal that was ultimately achieved. Do you think that, if a similar effort were made to develop alternative fuels, we would be similarly successful, and would you be willing to make this effort? Also, what benefits do you see alternative fuels bringing our nation, with respect to education, environment, security, and foreign policy?
- Larry, 23, of CA

Senator John Kerry Responds:

I believe that we must return to our great tradition of asking, "what if?" That is the approach that I take to energy independence. We must push our scientists and greatest thinkers to marshal a great effort to develop the new technologies that will make us energy independent. Our reliance on Mid-Eastern oil have placed a great burden on our economic security and our national security. Under my administration, we will set forward looking goals, like using renewable fuels for 20 percent of our energy by 2020 and bringing new, low-emission vehicles to our streets.

President George Bush Responds:

For too long, the Federal government has enacted patchwork solutions when an energy crisis arises, rather than addressing the root of the challenges we face. As one of my first acts in office, I proposed the first comprehensive and balanced National Energy Policy (NEP) in a generation to encourage energy efficiency and conservation, support alternative and renewable energy, increase domestic energy production, create jobs, and promote economic growth.

I have always been a strong proponent of clean, domestic renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. I have repeatedly called on Congress to enact a flexible, national renewable fuels standard that would require the use of 5 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel as motor fuel by 2012. This program will help reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, help our farm economy by creating new markets for agricultural products, and create new agricultural jobs.

To further improve our energy security, I proposed tax incentives for consumers who purchase hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. I also raised fuel economy standards for SUVs, vans, and pick-up trucks for the first time in a decade. Once fully adopted, this rule will save 343,000 barrels per day of gasoline, or about 1 billion barrels over 10 years.

In the longer term, we must pursue the transformation of America's energy infrastructure to support a more fuel-efficient, hydrogen-based economy. I announced two important measures in early 2003 that will help make a hydrogen economy possible. My budget supports $1.7 billion over five years for the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and a public-private partnership, Freedom CAR, which will work to create automobiles that run on clean-burning hydrogen.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in renewable energy because America's addiction to cheap oil is at the root of our two largest problems: the Iraqi occupation and facing up to the immediate crisis of global climate change. Future geopolitical crises involving oil resources and environmental problems will be diminished by finding alternatives to fossil fuels.

The Nader/Camejo Campaign praises the Apollo Alliance's "Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence," an overdue agenda for the country's energy future, as a welcome contrast to the shortsighted policies of the Bush Administration. In the spirit of its namesake, which galvanized the will of the American people into a national effort to put an American on the moon, the new Apollo Project advocates a full engagement of the federal government with the initiative of the American people in the service of revitalizing our country's approach to its energy plight.

Within a single decade, beginning in 2005, the Apollo Project proposes to establish a viable infrastructure to achieve American energy independence. Calling for a $313.72 billion dollar federal investment in that ten-year period, Apollo shifts the burden of American energy consumption away from fossil fuels and onto domestic renewable energy markets such as the wind, biomass, and solar energy industries.

The Apollo Alliance's Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence:

  1. Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars.
  2. Invest In More Efficient Factories.
  3. Encourage High Performance Building.
  4. Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances.
  5. Modernize Electrical Infrastructure.
  6. Expand Renewable Energy Development.
  7. Improve Transportation Options.
  8. Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth.
  9. Plan For A Hydrogen Future.
  10. Preserve Regulatory Protections.

Having gone to high school in a very conservative area, where parents refused to teach their children proper sex education, I watched 20 of my classmates leave due to teenage pregnancy. Some knew about sex while others had no idea how to get pregnant. What is your opinion on sex education in the classroom and what resources (information, condoms, etc) should be used? Do you believe that teaching abstinence alone is enough to save our children from teen pregnancy and spreading disease?
- John, 25, of KY

President George Bush Responds:

While I have maintained funding for existing "abstinence-plus" sex education programs, the fact is the number of sexually transmitted diseases in this country represents a real public health challenge. To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers young people face - even when they are difficult to talk about. Each year, at least 3 million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases that can harm them, kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents - and those numbers are going up. In my budget, I proposed a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases or pregnancy.

Decisions children make now can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us - parents, schools, and government - must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture and to send the right messages to our children.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

Education needs to be facts-based not dogma-based. This is true when it comes to responsible sex education. More important is civics educations. School must teach civic education and connect the classroom with the community. Getting youngsters, even as young as the fifth and sixth grades, to learn how to practice democracy, to connect knowledge to action is vital.

To help people grow up civic instead of growing up corporate is an important function of the Department of Education. Our education system is becoming too vocational and occupation-oriented, which is OK if it is not disproportionate and if it doesn't squeeze out the most important role of education, which is civic. I also would emphasize consumer education. Children are spending more and more money directly -- under 12 years of age they spent $ 12 billion last year, and they caused their parents to spend $ 150 billion. They need a consumer perspective, how to become a smart shopper.

Children's commercial television programming conveys that violence is a solution to life's problems, and pushes low-grade sensuality, from junk food and drink to pornography and addiction, as a way of life. Commercial Alert's "Parents' Bill of Rights" includes provisions that could reduce the number of pornographic and violent images children see, and potentially diminish the drive towards premature sexual behavior. The "Parents' Bill of Rights" includes provisions like the Advertising to Children Accountability Act, Commercial Free Schools Act, and the Fairness Doctrine for Parents' Act. See for more info.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

I believe that sex education instruction should include information about both abstinence and contraception and have worked in the Senate to ensure that sex education funding is not limited to teaching abstinence education.


Why won't the candidates address the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage? Do they recognize the significance that this demarcation holds as a stand against discrimination? Do they realize how their unwillingness to address this issue impacts every aspect of GLBT's (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender), and their families', lives? Are they aware that when political issues call civil rights into question that hate crimes rise exponentially?
- Amanda, 23, of IA

President George Bush Responds:

I believe that the union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring human institution. I called upon the Congress to pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. I believe that the American people, and not activist judges, should make this decision.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

I believe that gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships should have equal rights and responsibilities and I believe that the best way to achieve that is through civil unions. I also believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Finally, I believe that marriage law has been the responsibility of the states for over 200 years and that is how things should remain. George Bush's effort to pass a federal marriage amendment is divisive.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

The Nader/Camejo campaign supports equal rights for gays and lesbians, including equal rights for same-sex couples. We oppose President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages as adults should be treated equally under the law. Any attempt to mandate inequality by Mr. Bush leads the country in the wrong direction.

Marie C. Wilson of the Ms. Foundation recently said: "The most important thing is really having equal rights. It's not about the marriage. It's having the same rights that you would get if you were married." Love and commitment are not exactly in surplus in America and should be encouraged. The main tragedy of marriage, what undermines marriage, is divorce, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago recently said.

We support full equal rights for gays and lesbians. While civil unions move us in the right direction, under current federal and state law they do not afford equal rights. Some 1,049 federal rights go only with marriage. At the state level, a civil union is only recognized in the state where it occurs, while marriage, and all its attendant rights, is recognized in all the states. The only way to ensure full equal rights is to recognize same-sex marriage.

During the U.S. Constitution's 228 years, there have been only 17 amendments, and in each instance (except for Alcohol Prohibition, which was repealed), the amendments extended rights and liberties to Americans, not restrict them. Civil rights were expanded by amendments that ended slavery and guaranteed people of color, young people and women the right to vote. The Federal Marriage Amendment urged by President Bush would be the only one that would single out one class of Americans for discrimination by ensuring that same-sex couples would not be granted the equal protections that marriage brings to American families.


My husband works for a small business, about 20 people maximum, and the insurance the company offers not only would cost over 1/3 of his monthly income, but it would not cover our son due to his "pre-existing condition" (asthma). My question to you is, do you plan to make the limitations for assistance higher? Eliminate "pre-existing conditions," such as asthma? Make it to where agencies that provide assistance not just look at a monthly income, but look at the monthly outgoing?
- Christina, 28, of CO

Senator John Kerry Responds:

First of all, my health care will expand health insurance to every child in America. We should never leave our children at the whim of employers. I also believe that we must help out small businesses lower the cost of health insurance and my plan will do that by having the federal government pick up the cost of the most expensive health care costs and allow small businesses access to the same health care that members of Congress give themselves. My plan will cut health care costs by up to $1,000, making coverage more available and affordable for your family.

President George Bush Responds:

We are fortunate in America to have the best health care system in the world, but I believe we must do more to ensure that all Americans have access to quality affordable health care. People like your husband who work in small firms often face difficulties in finding affordable insurance that provides good benefits. One reason for this is that small firms lack the bargaining power that bigger employers have. They and their workers are forced to pay more for health insurance and the coverage isn't always as good as they would like for it to be. So it's no surprise that more than half the uninsured are small business employees and their families.

Small businesses should be able to obtain health insurance at an affordable price, much like large employers and unions do, so they can pass these savings along to their workers. That's why I have proposed legislation to create Association Health Plans (AHPs), giving small business access to better, more affordable coverage by banding together with other small businesses to negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of their employees and their families. Insurance offered through AHPs cannot exclude coverage of a person's pre-existing medical condition for more than six months, so it would have to cover treatment of your son's asthma. And if your husband had insurance coverage prior to going to work with a company that had insurance through an AHP, the pre-existing medical condition would be covered without any six-month waiting period.

In order to make insurance even more affordable to small businesses and individuals, I signed legislation creating health savings accounts (HSAs), which combine affordable major medical insurance with a fully portable account that you can use to pay for everyday medical expenses and to save for future health care needs. Premiums for major medical insurance generally cost thousands of dollars less than standard health insurance coverage and your husband's employer can put the savings into your family's health savings account. That account belongs to you and your husband, not to your employer, and it moves with you from job to job.

If you prefer to own your own insurance coverage rather than having it provided through your husband's employer, you might also benefit from my proposal to create refundable tax credits. These credits of up to $3,000 for a family of four phase out at $60,000 in income. They can be used to buy standard health insurance coverage or to buy high-deductible health insurance and establish an HSA.

As your income rises over the years, you will benefit from my proposed tax deduction of your health insurance premiums and for contributions that you make to your HSA.

To assure that people who buy health coverage outside the employment setting have access to affordable, high quality health coverage, I want to let private, non-profit groups - like civic organizations, charitable associations and religious groups - offer insurance coverage to their members. This will give individual purchasers the ability to buy coverage through an insurance pool formed by an organization they trust, where they can get the full benefit of volume discounts on their healthcare premiums. And I would allow those who live in states where regulations and mandates drive up the cost of health insurance to shop for health insurance across state lines, so that they can find the best health coverage at the most affordable prices.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

The U.S. is the only industrialized country without universal health care. We support a single-payer health care plan that replaces for-profit, investor-owned hospital care and removes the private health insurance industry. This national, single-payer health insurance program would be federally funded and would provide comprehensive benefits to all Americans throughout their lives. Under the current system, billing fraud, large executive salaries and excess profit costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Americans pay more than any country for health care, but receive less in services. By cutting this waste, Americans could easily fund a single-payer plan.

Of the many professional health care peer groups that support single-payer care, the Physicians for a National Health Program's proposal, at, stands out:

  • Everyone would be included in a single, comprehensive public plan covering all medically necessary services, including acute, rehabilitative and long-term care, mental-health services, dental care, prescription drugs and medical supplies.
  • Everyone would have access to personalized care with a local primary care physician, and free choice of doctors and hospitals. In this universal health care system, patients and doctors retain control of medical decisions, not insurance companies or the government.
  • Health care sellers would stay private, and the health plan would provide for different payment schemes for health-care sellers to minimize disruption. These payment schemes should prevent profit motives from influencing physicians, so no structured incentives could recommend too much or too little care.
  • A transition fund would be established for insurance-company employees whose jobs would be eliminated due to the simplicity of the single-payer system.
  • A focus on prevention as a critical part of health care. A single-payer health plan that includes a prevention focus will help mitigate behaviors (i.e. smoking and consumption of fatty foods) and environmental conditions that increase health problems.

When is it appropriate for a leader to change their opinion? Both sides have been accused of flip-flopping on important issues - President Bush on establishing the Dept. of Homeland Security and steel tariffs, Senator Kerry on the Iraq war. But changing opinion due to thoughtful reconsideration ought not to be derided as flip-flopping. Tell us about a time when you had an honest change of opinion on a topic of national importance.
- Jeremy, 30, of WA

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

When I first arrived in Washington, DC, one of my first meals was a hot dog. After I discovered what were in hot dogs I never ate another one. I changed my mind. When we get new facts or new information, it is foolish to continue on the same course as if the new information did not exist. The Bush administration has been among the most anti-scientific, anti-fact based administrations we've ever seen. They are willing to amend the facts in government reports in order to justify the policy choices they make. We've seen this with critically important issues like global climate change and the war in Iraq. In truth, facts matter - science matters and we need to seek it out, understand it and make decisions based on it.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

It is important for leaders to tell the truth to the American people. If the leaders get the facts wrong then they should admit it. If leaders form their opinions based on a set of facts and they learn that those facts are wrong, it is appropriate to change their position. American government works best when it works based on trust and honesty.

President George Bush Responds:

President Bush declined to answer this question. - Editor



The Bush administration has made a big deal of President Bush's Christian faith. Democratic candidate John Kerry is also a Christian. My question for the candidates is how does your faith affect your decision-making for the future of our country? Also, America is based on the separation of church and state. For the candidates, is it conflicting to take a position on issues based on Christianity (such as abortion and gay marriage) when not everyone in America believes in God or Christianity?
- Marcy, 17, of CO

President George Bush Responds:

I have a great respect for people of all beliefs, and I am proud to live in a Nation that welcomes and respects people of diverse philosophies and backgrounds. My faith has made a big difference in both my personal life and my public life. As President, I make decisions based on what I think is best for the country. However, my faith is an integral part of my life, and I cannot separate my faith from who I am as a person.

I support the separation of church and state, but I do not believe our Founders intended for the State to discriminate against the church and banish faith from the public square. Our Nation was based on founding principles; the decisions I make as a leader are sbased on these principles and not my personal faith. Marriage, for example, has been the foundation of our society and of societies and cultures throughout history -- and it has always been defined as the union between a man and a woman. I believe that the future of marriage in America should be decided through the democratic process, rather than by the court orders of a few.

I also believe government should not fear faith, but welcome faith and utilize America's "armies of compassion" as they continue to transform lives. My Faith-Based and Community Initiative levels the playing field in the Federal grants process for religious organizations. I signed a law reaffirming "one Nation under God" in our Pledge and "In God we trust" as our Motto. And I support the Equal Access Act which allow religious organizations to hold voluntary meetings on public property - such as schools, because denying them that right would be unconstitutional.

Mr. Ralph Nader Responds:

When President Bush starts talking about doing the Lord's work, when he starts taking about appealing for strength to a higher Father than his father, when he starts talking about all the quotations for the last two years that the press has reported, about his references to Providence, we are dealing here with a messianic militarist. A messianic militarist under our constitutional structure is an unstable officeholder. Talk about the separation of church and state. It is not separated at all in Bush's brain and this is extremely disturbing. We want him to make decisions as a secular president.

The whole process of how Bush made this decision to go to war in Iraq without informing Secretary of State Powell, etcetera, indicates that he has got some psychological impulse that is driving - whether it is revenge for his father or whatever or more likely a combination of distraction from domestic necessities which is the greatest beneficial fallout from the war for him politically. The danger of injecting God into the Iraq war is further angering a Muslim world that already distrusts U.S. policies and motives. Anybody with a stable approach to this would keep his mouth shut.

The continually weakening separation between church and state can also be seen in the two parties pressing for or allowing faith-based government funding. Liberals have become increasingly estranged from demands that their party incorporate these subjects as part of what it stands for. They have settled for the Democrats' saying or doing the right things on the social and cultural issues such as choice, gay and lesbian rights, church-state separation and Social Security. When considered against the deterioration of standards of living, access to justice and the dwindling power of the people vs. giant corporations, the party's offerings are grossly insufficient.

Senator John Kerry Responds:

Teresa Heinz Kerry and I are practicing and believing Catholics. If you're a person of faith as I am, faith is your guidepost, your moral compass - the sustaining force in everything you do. God's work must truly be our own and the job of a leader is to convey to people that what we do does not speak for one particular belief but bring people together around a set of values that we share as a nation.

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Bush, Kerry, and Nader Respond to Youth Voter Questions

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:48PM (#10515005) Homepage Journal
    When is it appropriate for a leader to change their opinion? Both sides have been accused of flip-flopping on important issues -...

    President George Bush Responds:

    President Bush declined to answer this question. - Editor
    Such a decisive leader!

    Seriously, that should have been a cinch to answer, but as Nader and Kerry indicate the current administration is fond of changing facts to support their answers. Anyone who claims not to ever have made mistakes is to be met with a great degree of skepticism.

    I'm looking forward to tonights final debate, which would certainly be more interesting if Nader where there to show people an alternate view, but it's still fun to watch these guys think on their feet.

    BTW, was I the only one who caught that comment by Bush on Friday, regarding picking SCOTUS justices and hedging all over the place before finally saying, "besides, I want all of them to vote for me!" You don't say... like in 2000? You don't get nuggets like that without putting them on their toes before a camera, without all their helpers.

    • by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:00PM (#10515100)
      President George Bush Responds:

      President Bush declined to answer this question. - Editor

      Such a decisive leader!

      indeed. at first i found it amusing, but i am troubled that gwb finds it impossible to admit a specific instance in which he made a wrong decision.

      his leadership style is like that of a religious organization... no matter what, never admit you are wrong (until at least a few hundred years after the incident, if ever).

      part of making decisions is making the wrong ones and being able recognize them, admit it, and learn from them going forward.

      • by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:09PM (#10515210)
        Uh, did you read the "answers" given by the other two candidates?
        • by afree87 ( 102803 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:14PM (#10515265) Journal
          Ralph Nader admitted he made a mistake in eating that hot dog. In the realm politics, I think that's a pretty big apology!
        • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:51PM (#10515724) Homepage Journal
          I did. Kerry failed to introduce a specific instance of himself changing his mind. Nader was the only one who actually answered the question... but a hot dog? Why should I care what he thinks about hot dogs?

          So we have one candidate failing to give a substantive answer, one who fails to answer the question, and a third who says nothing. It's the Marx brothers, folks: Groucho (Nader), Chico (Kerry), and Harpo (Bush).

          Off with their heads.
      • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:23PM (#10515358) Journal
        his leadership style is like that of a religious organization... no matter what, never admit you are wrong (until at least a few hundred years after the incident, if ever).

        I've been thinking about this lately, and I don't think that's it. I think the problem is that we as Americans are holding all of our leaders to unreasonably high standards, in many cases exceeding even "perfection". (Which is to say, we demand the impossible, like full disclosure of military operations while demanding that our troops be kept safe.)

        So, at the slightest sign of failure, we brutally punish the leader, out of any proportion to the fault (which is sometimes only perceived!).

        In this environment, why should we expect anyone to ever admit mistakes, ever? That's just one more thing to pile on about. Better to deny it and hope for the best.

        This is a non-partisan observation, and indeed it extends past politics; in previous eras Dan Rather would be out of a job, now he stands on his "facts" for a few weeks, mumbles a vague and unsatisfying apology, and hopes for the best, which AFAIK he is getting. Same for CEOs. We punish people for apologizing or admitting fault and reward them for bulling through until the problem just goes away.

        What do you expect? Unless we have a culture shift where we acknowlegde that nobody is perfect and start holding people to more realistic standards as a whole, everybody is going to act that way. And I can imagine no way for this to occur, since people currently benefit greatly for mocking politicians dress, speaking ability, or face shape. (I mean, come on, what is a guy supposed to do about that?)

        Again, this is non-partisan; anything in this message you think is directly about Bush is meant to apply broadly.
        • by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:58PM (#10515806) Homepage Journal
          > or face shape. (I mean, come on, what is a guy supposed to do about that?)

          Erm... get mocked about Botox injections instead? ;-)
        • by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:00PM (#10515820) Homepage
          Wow. Gem of a comment in the middle of a pile of crap that is slashdot...

          I think there is a lot to what you say here, especially with todays "Gotcha" politics. Bush could walk on water, but $diety help him should he mis-speak or have less than perfect grammar! Kerry could have marched through Vietnam naked and won the war all by himself, but $diety forgive him if he changes his mind on the color tie he wears.

          Each side jumps on the others minor flaws like a pit bull. And the media just loves it.
        • by Darby ( 84953 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:07PM (#10516787)
          I've been thinking about this lately, and I don't think that's it. I think the problem is that we as Americans are holding all of our leaders to unreasonably high standards, in many cases exceeding even "perfection".

          That has absolutely nothing to do with it.
          Bush has made many extremely serious errors while in office. Everybody knows it, and they are completely out in the open. He has nothing to lose by admitting the simple facts that everybody knows and much to lose (like any credibility he had left).

          This is a non-partisan observation, and indeed it extends past politics; in previous eras Dan Rather would be out of a job, now he stands on his "facts" for a few weeks, mumbles a vague and unsatisfying apology, and hopes for the best, which AFAIK he is getting.

          The really sickening thing about this issue is how it has ended up being about Dan Rather. He made an error in saying the exact copy that he had of the memo was the actual one.
          What has been completely lost in the ruckus over that is that regardless of the origin of that particular piece of paper, is that what was reported was absolutely factual, and has been backed up by the people who would know.
          In fact it was backed up by the person who typed the freaking real memo originally.

          I suppose you missed Rather's interview with the secretary who stated that she did not type the memo? He asked her if she typed similar ones: YES.
          Heasked her if she types ones identical in content: YES.

          So the facts are not in any way in dispute. Bush deserted his unit and failed to show up for duty. The president of the United States has proven himself to be untrustworthy. He has proven himself incapable of fulfilling an oath. He has proven himself to be a coward.

          Yes, but it's really a much bigger story that a reporter had the wrong piece of paper with the smae things written on it as the right piece of paper.

          That's just so symptomatic of how truly diseased this country is.

        • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:09PM (#10516818)
          First off, what is a "mistake" in politics (aside from invading a country ... you know the rest)?

          How often does someone vote "yes" for a bill when they meant "no"?

          Almost everything in politics comes down to your personal beliefs. You vote your beliefs. Whether it be abortion or taxes or defense.

          The real question is goals. And the methods you'll use to achieve those goals. And how effective/efficient those methods are. And the side effects of those methods.

          The reality of the situation is that different people have different goals and even people with the same goals can have them in a different priority.

          Instead of "mistakes", it comes down to "have you ever changed your beliefs / goals".

          Same for CEOs. We punish people for apologizing or admitting fault and reward them for bulling through until the problem just goes away.

          Well, in theory, the "market" is supposed to punish the CEO's who choose a strategy and/or goal that isn't effective for their company.

          And I can imagine no way for this to occur, since people currently benefit greatly for mocking politicians dress, speaking ability, or face shape. (I mean, come on, what is a guy supposed to do about that?)

          I think that is because the average person does not understand nor does he want to understand the complexities we face. He wants simple solutions that fix all the problems and he wants them delivered within an hour long sitcom. The bad guys have to be easily discernable as bad guys. So lots of focus is put on the visual/auditory elements.

          If someone effectively and efficiently achieved his goal, but that goal was not one you shared, did he make a mistake?

          If he was working effectively and efficiently towards a goal, but then something changed his belief system and he discarded that goal, was that a mistake?

          About the only "mistake" is when someone chooses a path that will not lead to one of his goals.
        • by geekpolitico ( 743680 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:11PM (#10516850)
          I strongly disagree with this. Americans have shown themselves to be pretty forgiving in the past. If you make a mistake and ask for forgiveness, it tends to blow over.

          Look at Lewinskygate. 40% of the electorate thought it was dumb. 40% hated Clinton no matter what. 20% thought Clinton was being an ass. After he apologized 60% of the electorate moved on, and the 40% that already hated Clinton hated him more. Of course, there was nothing on Earth he could have done to change their minds .. short of shooting a homosexual immigrant with an assault rifle.
      • by mefus ( 34481 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:35PM (#10515506) Journal
        his leadership style is like that of a religious organization... no matter what, never admit you are wrong

        Well, by Bush's own admission, God speaks through him. And God is perfect, infallible. Bush admitting he made a mistake would be a heretical position to take and he is a pious man, after all.
      • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:39PM (#10516389)
        indeed. at first i found it amusing, but i am troubled that gwb finds it impossible to admit a specific instance in which he made a wrong decision.

        I'm completely amazed for completely different reasons. He is, first and foremost, a man running for re-election. You can be assured that Kerry or who ever in such a position, is not going to start bragging about past mistakes right before an election. I'm sorry, but that's the reality we live in. Ding GWB for it if you must, but you simply don't understand politics if you think you would get any other class of answer from any other man in an election year (right before election).

        Simple fact is, we ALL known he's made mistakes. How dumb do you have to be to hear it from his own mouth to know he's made mistakes.

        his leadership style is like that of a religious organization... no matter what, never admit you are wrong (until at least a few hundred years after the incident, if ever).

        Once again, I'm forced to disagree. His leadership style is like that of a man running for re-election. Like it or not, this is what US politics and our four-year cycle has created. It's just a fact of US politics and our current election system.

        part of making decisions is making the wrong ones and being able recognize them, admit it, and learn from them going forward.

        Maybe for us mortals, but not for a man running for re-election. Politics is politics, and these are the answers you should expect for any politician in high office. After all, that's what makes them politicians.

        If you think for even a second, you have the option of voting for a human versus a politician, then your right to vote should be taken away.

        I have family that constantly sends me pro-Bush propaganda. Comments like your seem no different to me. Often, I see people in a hurry to bash the other side while forgetting that everything they are bashing one side for, is probably true for the otherside too. Granted, this election does have some wide divides, unlike what you normally see, but just stop and think if your comments hold water when applied to the other side. More often then not, you're bad talking both sides and you just don't realize it.

        This is why I tell my son that this election is figuring out to vote for, "dumb or dumber". In this election, it's not like you even have an option of figuring out which is best. Rather, your objective is to figure out which one is less stupid and vote for him. Let's face it, our options suck. Nader? Ya right. That's a vote for Bush, not Nader. Yet another reason, which highlights that our 2-party system sucks.
      • by ViolentGreen ( 704134 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:13PM (#10516869)
        indeed. at first i found it amusing, but i am troubled that gwb finds it impossible to admit a specific instance in which he made a wrong decision.

        Well in Debate#2, that was a trap question; an attempt to get him to provide Kerry with some ammuntion.

        If I remember correctly, Kerry had a trap question too (or maybe it was Edwards.) I thought they were both a little unappropriate for the debates. It's like the "What's your greatest weakness" question that gets asked during job interviews.
    • I agree to looking forwared to the debate. After that answer, I envison Bush at the podium, and when asked a difficult question, the President furrows his brow, looks decisive, and says "pass".
    • by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:35PM (#10515511) Homepage Journal

      whoa, whoa, whoa...

      Sen. Kerry didn't answer it either.

      Sure, there was a resonse... but it was a generic, scripted response that didn't address the question at hand to list a time they had changed their mind.
    • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:35PM (#10515513) Homepage
      It's truly amazing that this president stubbornly maintains he never makes mistakes (other than in appointing people, apparently) and once he makes his mind, he never changes it.

      His answer to the last audience question during the 2nd debate revealed an overbearing arrogance, unwillingness to learn from past mistakes, shame over his record during the presidency or all of the above.

      In my work life, these type of people have been the absolute worst to work with. They are stubborn know-it-all types incapable of seeing other points of view and impossible to come to any sort of compromise, ever.

      Proletariat of the world, unite to cast your vote against Bush
  • Not good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:49PM (#10515012)
    Well crafted answers by the three candidates. I doubt that they sat down and wrote out the answers by themselves, you can see the speech writers hands in this as well as the "handlers." Well, Nader might have written his responses, he gets quite weird in places. Anyway, I was hoping for responses that would be a bit more informal in tone, especially since the audience is suppose to be youth. But, none of the candidates can afford to make even the tiniest slip, or even to be human. I am a republican but even I will admit that Bush does not talk the way these responses are written. And, Kerry, rather than saying "Theresa and I" or "my wife and I," gets quite formal with "Teresa Heinz Kerry and I are practicing and believing Catholics." Why so formal? There are better and warmer ways to honor your wife and show respect for her independence. These responses, from the three candidates, are disappointing.
    • Re:Not good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <.slashdot. .at.> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:15PM (#10515281) Journal
      Another clue is that they avoided the only question I was really interested in hearing: the issue of instant-runoff voting. Nader is the only one who even touched it. Kerry and Bush's "responses" talked about campaign finance reform (what? the question didn't even mention money)!

      I will admit I didn't expect them to actually answer the question, but I am still angry that they didn't. This article is worthless to me.
    • Re:Not good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @05:01PM (#10517449)
      Did anyone else think that Kerry(*) is shooting himself in the foot by consistently providing the shortest, least specific answers? I mean, I'm definitely not someone who would vote for Bush, but can Kerry really think that his one-line or one-paragraph answers can do any good to his campaign? This weighs in even more when you consider that Bush's(*) answers were relatively long and attempted to explain his government's policy. So at least, in a way, they were -real- answers.

      Question 11 was especially interesting. Nader(*) kind-of answered the question, but Kerry just pasted some general blurb. And it's even more interesting (and revealing?) that Bush declined to answer this one...

      (*) or their respective ghostwriters of course :)
  • umm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:49PM (#10515013)
    hands up who thinks bush wrote that.
  • Hard Work (Score:5, Funny)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <(ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC) (ta) (PGC)> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:51PM (#10515027) Homepage
    I don't think bush wrote that:

    Clue One: Bush didn't mention Hard Work [] once.
    Clue Two: It wasn't written in purple crayon.

    -Colin []
  • Obvious question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeXpop ( 614167 ) <mike.redcrowbar@com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:51PM (#10515028) Journal
    Why aren't Cobb, Badnarik, Brown, and others shown? I find their answers are much more interesting, as they aren't afraid to alienate voters with different opinions (AKA no John Kerry-esque 'For votes who don't agree with it, I don't agree with it either. But for those who do, I'll still enforce it. Vote for me please!')
    • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:09PM (#10515938) Homepage Journal
      Why aren't Cobb, Badnarik, Brown, and others shown?

      Because they are not viable candidates at this point in time. They have no conceivable chance of winning.

      You act like there is no cost associated with turning this into a book. Well, there is: If the answers from George W. Bush (Republican), John F. Kerry (Democrat), Stanford E. "Andy" Andress (Independent), Lawson M. Bone (Write-In), David C. Byrne (Write-In), John Joseph Kennedy (Write-In), James Alexander Pace (Write-In), Tom Trancredo (Write-In), Thomas J. Harens (Christian Freedom Party), Deborah Elaine Allen (Write-In), Andrew J. Falk (Write-In), Gene Amondson (Prohibition Party), Michael Badnarik (Libertarian Party), Walter F. "Walt" Brown (Socialist Party), Roger Calero (Socialist Workers Party), David Keith Cobb (Green Party), Earl F. Dodge (Prohibition Party), Charles Jay (Personal Choice Party), Ralph Nader (Reform Party), John Parker (Workers World Party), Leonard J. Peltier (Peace & Freedom Party), Michael A. "Mike" Peroutka (Constitution Party), and Bill Van Auken (Socialist Equality Party) were all included, then the resultant tome would become too much of a burden for 99% of people to read. That means a less, not more, informed electorate.

  • Good... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ottergoose ( 770022 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:59PM (#10515092) Homepage
    I'm glad that Bush took the time to use the internets. He really relates to young voters...

    (Funny, not Flamebait)
  • Bajesus! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mmm coffee ( 679570 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:01PM (#10515114) Journal
    Wow. I knew Bush was bad, but he successfully avoided answering all the questions and replying with bullshit. All of the questions. "What do you think of this important issue?" "America is the greatest nation, a bastion of hope for the world. I am proud to have voted for bill X..."

    Kerry sometimes avoided the questions, and sometimes answered them. Fairly decent job, as far as politicians usually go.

    Nader actually answered the questions.

    The Libertarian and Green candidates not only agreed to be interviewed directly by a random nerd website (/.), but gave well thought out answers to the questions.

    Says a lot. I won't go into what it says, as that is on the shoulders of the beholder, but it does say a lot.
    • Re:Bajesus! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by optikSmoke ( 264261 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:44PM (#10515644)

      Wow. I knew Bush was bad, but he successfully avoided answering all the questions and replying with bullshit. All of the questions. "What do you think of this important issue?" "America is the greatest nation, a bastion of hope for the world. I am proud to have voted for bill X..."

      My favourite: "We are fortunate in America to have the best health care system in the world, ..." He could at least seem a little informed on the issues surrounding health care by not using the superlative. On the other hand, I suppose people like hearing that word "best".....

  • by allism ( 457899 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:03PM (#10515129) Journal
    I noticed that the author of question 10, regarding health insurance, is from Colorado. I am from Colorado, and when I applied for health insurance I was told that by Colorado law I could not be turned down for health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. This did not change when I left my job and was added to my husband's health insurance.

    The company that I worked for would have had a lot of people turned down if asthma was a pre-existing disqualification - I worked with about 50 resipiratory therapists, and at least half of them had asthma. Everyone had health insurance.

    Does anyone have any insight into why this person would think that her son had been turned down because of his asthma? Is there something with the Colorado law that I am unfamiliar with, or has something recently changed?
    • I don't live in colorado - but here in PA my allergies are a pre-existing condition and therefore were not covered for the first year after starting a new plan.

      The expecptions were being if i had refilled my allergy medicine within 60 days of getting the new health insurance - unfortunately my allergies were seasonal and i had not planned on pre-ordering my meds that early.

      SO now i have to wait till next year or pay the 90 bucks... paid the 90 bucks because OTC doesn't work as well.

      Health Insurance is a
  • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:04PM (#10515137)
    You are either voting against Bush or for Bush. Unless the other candidate is a child molesting, neo-nazi, it really doesn't matter much.

    • by gregoryb ( 306233 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:52PM (#10515735) Homepage

      > You are either voting against Bush or for Bush. Unless the other candidate is a child molesting, neo-nazi, it really doesn't matter much.

      If the people who held this opinion would explore the other parties a little more and actually vote using their brains, we might actually have some intelligent people in office instead of career politicians who can't answer questions honestly, only tell people what they want to hear, and sometimes just seem in it for the power trip!

      Also, this is exactly why we need approval voting instead of the current system. Then, we might actually have a real choice...

    • by dalutong ( 260603 ) <djtansey@gmail . c om> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:35PM (#10516326)
      I can't say I agree with this. My girlfriend's _default_ candidate is Bush. But she is looking for a _good_ reason to vote against him. She is not voting for or against him. She is trying to actually know whether Kerry will be better before she changes her vote.

      I think she is representative of a good deal of the undecided vote.
    • by Edax Rarem ( 187218 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:43PM (#10516453) Homepage Journal
      Admittedly, I was totally against W (I hate saying I'm against Bush) becuase I think he and his cronies are just evil.
      Then I took one of those voter tests and my beliefs alligned with Kerry's, so I did some research and I belive him to be a pretty stand up guy. I know he has exaggerated some facts ( but no where near the degree the other guys have. ["I own a lumber company?(smug laughter)"]
      Can anyone send me some FACTS as to why I shouldn't be voting for Kerry?
      I am trolling here. And please, let's keep it to this or the last decade (keep quiet swift boat supporters), and on issues that actually mean something.
  • uhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:05PM (#10515160) Homepage
    President Bush: Yet despite the energy and activism of many youth, less than half of eligible voters, ages 18-24, voted in recent national elections. The youth voice needs to be heard - so I encourage you to make sure that it is!

    Yeah, right. The last thing he wants is more 18-24 year olds (who tend to skew heavily democratic) voting.
  • by victor_the_cleaner ( 723411 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:06PM (#10515171)
    It's kinda scary that Nader's answers appear the most thought out. Bush basically answered "this is what I did" to most of the questions, regardless of whether it was the right thing to do, or even matched the question. Kerry mostly said, "we need to change" (yeah but how?).
    • by Monkey-Man2000 ( 603495 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:29PM (#10515428)
      Why is that scary? He and the other 3rd party candidates are the only ones that actually have to work to be competitive in the race. You wonder why the race is so close between Kerry and Bush (and Gore and Bush in 2000), but it's because except for a couple issues, they say the same bullshit.
    • by (trb001) ( 224998 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:33PM (#10515475) Homepage
      Out of curiosity, what would you have Bush say? He's been in office for four years and has pressed for, rejected and passed legislation dealing with most of these topics. As actions speak louder than words, I prefer hearing what Bush has or hasn't done as an indication over Kerry's "I have a plan" mantra, such as the one he uses when talking about the draft.

  • by Mad_Rain ( 674268 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:08PM (#10515191) Journal
    I found it interesting that after being criticized for having "nuanced" (to put it politely) or "long-winded" (to put it less politely) responses, that Sen. Kerry seemed to have the more concise answers to the questions. I'm curious to hear what other people would like the canidates to elaborate some more on...
  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:08PM (#10515193) Homepage
    It seems to me, that Kerry (or his staff) is the only one who wrote his responses addressing the intended audience (Mostly non-voting youth). Many of the other responses would be quickly glossed over by anyone under the age of 18 with a less than serious devotion to politics. Most of his answers seemed short, concise, and to the point. Which is what a younger audience demands.
  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:08PM (#10515204)

    don't touch that dial!

    Wow, that's quite the anachronism.

    /ties an onion to his belt, which was the style at the time

    You see, kids... Once upon a time, radios were controlled by analog potentiometers, variable resistors, and yams filled with gunpowder. If you wanted to change the station, you had to walk dickety-six feet over to the wireless radio-set and fiddle around with the knob. If you moved it too far, that was a paddlin'. If you didn't move it far enough, that was a paddlin'. If you tuned in to the canoe races, that was definitely a paddlin'. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes - the important thing to remember is that nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Give me five bees for a quarter" you'd say...

    /Very very off-topic, but non-partisan.
    • by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:30PM (#10515432)
      don't touch that dial!

      Wow, that's quite the anachronism.
      It is a cunning quote designed to evoke the lyrics of a certain Frank Zappa [] song. Namely, I'm the Slime

      I mean, politicians and lyrics like these...
      I am gross and perverted

      I'm obsessed 'n deranged
      I have existed for years
      But very little had changed
      I am the tool of the Government
      And industry too
      For I am destined to rule
      And regulate you
      I may be vile and pernicious
      But you can't look away
      I make you think I'm delicious
      With the stuff that I say
      I am the best you can get
      Have you guessed me yet?
      I am the slime oozin' out
      From your TV set
      And here ends the preview of the next TV debate.
  • omg* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cliveholloway ( 132299 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:09PM (#10515220) Homepage Journal

    When is it appropriate for a leader to change their opinion? ...... Tell us about a time when you had an honest change of opinion on a topic of national importance.

    President Bush declined to answer this question. - Editor

    wow - Bush has no response to this? Does this man think he can never be wrong? Be afraid. Very, very afraid.

    cLive ;-)

    * replace with other, non-denominational/cultural entity as appropriate ;-)

  • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:10PM (#10515224) Homepage Journal
    The thing that stands out most is the number of questions that were simply not answered. Sure, a response was given, but it often completely ignored the real question. All the candidates did this, though some more than others.

    The most striking examples include:

    Election Reform - Both Bush and Kerry completely ignored the main thrust of the question which related to different voting system, and the two party duopoly.

    Personal - All candidates effectively ignored this question, Bush most prominently, but neither Nader nor Kerry actually had much to say about changing their own minds on any issue of any significance.

    But many of the other questions involved significant dodges on various points of the question, other otherwise derailing the answer from the main track to make completely unrelated points.

    Sure, these are politicians and that's what they do, but really, they had so many advisors to write this for them, and plenty of time to do it - you would think they'd do a better job of actually answering the questions directly.

    • This reminds me of the last debate. Both of them pretty much gave indirect short answers and spent the remind time on their campaign slogans. I guess they are trying to limit answers that can be used against them later on.
  • by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:12PM (#10515241) Homepage
    the New Voters Project Presidential Youth Debate. Uh . . . that doesn't look like a debate to me. In a debate, there should be some interaction between the parties . . . some followup response and rebuttal.

    This would more accurately be characterized as text based interview of the candidates (or mare accurately, their campaigns . . .I can't believe that the candidates personally wrote these answers). Though this information has value, lets not jade young voters by telling them something is a debate when its merely answers to questions . . .

  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:17PM (#10515302) Homepage Journal
    After reading their responses, one ineluctable fact impresses itself on me: I want to vote for none of the above.

    If we're going to have election/political reform, I think making that a ballot option would be a great start.

    If you're not in a swing state, vote for any third party candidate.

  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:24PM (#10515378) Homepage
    Each year, at least 3 million teenagers contract sexually-transmitted diseases... and those numbers are going up... We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs.

    Anyone else fail to see the logic with this statement? "Well, we spent ($100,000,000) last year, and the problem got worse, maybe if throw ($200,000,000) at it this time around it will get better!

    Abstinence only education has only served to increase teen pregnancy and STD infection, because they are not being made aware of any alternatives. Kids are going to have sex. If you can't accept that fact, and think you can "educate" them into not having sex, you're foolish. The most reasonable solution is to inform them of all of their options, the risks associated with each, and allow them to make their own decisions. Telling someone that condoms exist doesn't teach them that it is okay to have promiscuous sex anymore than telling them that firearms exist teaches them it is okay to shoot one without regard for the safety of yourself or others.
    • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:37PM (#10516358)

      Abstinence only education has only served to increase teen pregnancy and STD infection, because they are not being made aware of any alternatives. Kids are going to have sex. If you can't accept that fact, and think you can "educate" them into not having sex, you're foolish.

      A little history - sex ed in schools was first sold in the 60's, when there were teen pregnancy rates and vd rates that we would kill for now. The very things it was supposedly going to help with rose in tandem with the growth of sex ed. And it was definitely not "abstinence based" sex ed.

      Only in the last few years has there been any effort to even try abstinence based sex ed. I don't agree with the president that doubling expenditures on a different style of sex ed is the solution, but it's kind of funny how you see the problem only with the new flavor of sex ed.

      Kids are going to have sex. If you can't accept that fact, and think you can "educate" them into not having sex, you're foolish.

      This is exactly the hoary old argument used to sell the original, non-abstinence based sex ed. Which turned out to be spectacularly wrong.

      • by dalutong ( 260603 ) <djtansey@gmail . c om> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:54PM (#10516625)
        That or our culture is changing and you can't escape change to a more open culture regarding sex.

        can you think of another place in the world where the government has successfully (while not actively suppressing people) reduced it?

        i don't agree with "this is what a condom does" sex ed. i don't agree with "don't have sex" sex ed. i support "you need to learn to make your own decisions and not get pressured into anything. this is what happens. this is how it all works. this is how you can get around _having_ to do it if you'd like."

        i'm only a few years out of high school. few of the girls in my school (that i spoke to about this) _wanted_ to have sex. they just went along with it when they felt they had to.

        empowerment is the answer. i'm sure of it.
      • by vondo ( 303621 ) * on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:05PM (#10516761)
        A little history - sex ed in schools was first sold in the 60's, when there were teen pregnancy rates and vd rates that we would kill for now. The very things it was supposedly going to help with rose in tandem with the growth of sex ed.

        You have to be very careful sorting out cause and effect, especially in sociology where control groups can be hard to come by.

      • by GOD_ALMIGHTY ( 17678 ) <curt.johnson@gmai l . com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @04:46PM (#10517250) Homepage
        Yellow card on your causality there:
        very things it was supposedly going to help with rose in tandem with the growth of sex ed

        It also rose with growth in population, population density, economic opportunity, new healthcare choices, later age till first marriage, etc, etc.

        Empirical research on this has shown that rates go up for the negatives when we've switched from standard sex-ed to abstinence-only sex-ed. I don't have time to pick and choose which study to point you to, so just do a google search, there are plenty to choose from, including a Wikipedia article. Standard sex-ed actually allowed the use of condoms to increase while the amount of actual sex decreased in the 90's.

        There was no reason to change from the standard sex-ed, since it was working and the empirical evidence said so. Absitenance-only is completely faith based and had no record to run on. Empirical research since it's introduction has shown that, at best, it does no better than standard sex-ed, at worst it doesn't work as well.
  • sdfsdf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by photonic ( 584757 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:26PM (#10515395)
    Most important question in my opinion:

    To the candidates, you talk a lot about the importance of promoting democracy in other countries. However, I have never heard you take on the issue of election reform in our own country. The current presidential system seems to have several shortcomings, including two-party duopoly and the ability to win the Election without winning the popular vote. This hardly seems democratic. What are your positions on instant-runoff voting and proportional representation?

    with both Bush & Kerry giving no real answers. I think this question touches on an issue that causes a lot of the problems of American politics. The present system is effectively a two party system. This gives you only one choice between left and right wing. One party has power until it screws up and then the other takes over. Support for both parties will always stay in the 45-55% range.

    I think a healthy system should have place for somewhere between 5 and 10 parties, ranging from greens, labour, religion based, conservative, liberals, etc. You will probably require a coalition to rule the country, but that is the whole idea of democracy: to make compromises between the various wishes from society.
  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:27PM (#10515410) Homepage
    Question: Blah.

    Bush: I think it's important to blah. We've spent a lot of money to encourage blah. We need to restrain our spending except for blah.

    Kerry: What Bush said, but not what Bush said. More money needs to be spent on blah than he says. I'm just the man to do it, because I fought in a war to defend blah.

    Nader: Don't listen to them. They are in bed with EEEEEEVIL corporations who are trying to steal your children's college fund. They do this by fear-mongering. They will kill us all with unsafe cars if you don't elect me.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:29PM (#10515422) Homepage
    ...The United States is one of the only nations in the world that executes juvenile offenders...
    President George Bush Responds:
    ...Federal law prohibits execution of those under 18 when the offense was committed...
    None of the candidate's seemed to answer this question. George Bush shed a little light on the subject (amazingly). If federal law prohibits this, then states cannot do it. Remember we fought a war [] over this? I will guess that federal law prohibits execution of juvenile's in federal cases, but makes no statement about states. If I am correct, then the only fair and reasonable reply to this question would be "Write your state governor, it's not a federal issue."
  • Veribiage... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:29PM (#10515426) Homepage
    There must be some really frustrated speech writers working for President Bush. I threw the responses into a text editor, and came up with the following stats:
    • 7337 Words
    • 16853 Characters w/o spaces
    • 1401 Words
    • 6732 Characters w/o spaces
    The Kerry campaign used fewer Characters than the Bush campaign used words!

    They also must not have their top people working on this - at least for the Bush campaign. I did a search for some of the words used in his responses here (like "quell"), and found that Bush himself never uses them in any of his accessable online speeches. That's not a mistake a seasoned campaign speech writer would make.
  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:34PM (#10515498) Journal
    I think Kerry really ducked the Social Security question. You can go from 16 workers per retiree to 3 and think the system is going to keep going. Unless you are ready to make the payroll taxes even higher (which hurts the economy) or reducing benefits (which hurts the retirees).
  • Fun with Google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cmcguffin ( 156798 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:35PM (#10515517)
    President George Bush Responds:

    In little over a generation, we have witnessed the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy.


    That sure looks familiar -- it's recycled from a year-old speech [].

    Not to mention a mostly-repeat answer from here [].

    And so on...

    Way to go, word-processing speechwriter monkeys!
  • Gay "marriage" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:43PM (#10515627) Homepage Journal
    I will most likely get flamed for this one, but here's an instance where I disagree with all of the candidates (although I support Bush).

    In my mind, the concept of marriage is a religious issue, and should be handled on that level. The state should have nothing to say on the issue. Nader, who typically maintains the concept of separation of church and state, failed on this one too.

    Gay "marriage" does not exist in my mind--I oppose it. But I see it as a religious/moral question that should be adjudicated by the church to which the individuals belong. If they do not belong to any church, then they do not need to worry about it.

    The separate concept, a civil union, is a contractual issue. There have typically been benefits of such a union given by the state (such as tax breaks), but there is no real basis for such a situation, if both members of the union are working members of society. There have also been traditional benefits of these unions in the workplace, such as healthcare.

    It is my opinion, that a civil union should only carry those benefits which make sense--such as healthcare, or possibly a tax break if only one member of the union works (and is therefore dependent on the other for their wellbeing)[1].

    Therefore, a civil union should be allowed between any two adults that deem it desirable, regardless of sexual orientation (if two straight men wanted to enter into such a union, that would be fine with me). However, there would no longer be any benefit from the government for doing so. I doubt, under my conceptualization, that there would be many individuals who are willing to enter into this union. Also, under this plan, the only way that an adult would be allowed to consider another adult a dependent (other than a child with psychotic[2] mental impairment), would be via a civil union, and proving that they are responsible for more than 50% of the individuals support.

    Marriage, would be a separate issue, and not necessarily require a civil union. It would be a "legal" contract, but not in the sense that it is now. As I see it, if two men or two women wanted a marriage, and could find an established religion willing to perform the ceremony, there should be no bar to that.

    This flies in the face of what many in my church believe, and what most staunch conservatives think. This is, however, an issue that most do not get. Why should the government have any say in who is allowed to be civilly joined? Only if that government is providing some benefit to those individuals. Remove the benefit, I say, and the reason for the government to be concerned with it at all.

    As a final note, Nader has it wrong to. The answer is NOT "legalize gay marriage", but to move government out of the realm of marriage altogether. Also note that we are not the only country with this problem. What the rest of the world does with this situation should be interesting.

    1-That said, I favor repeal of all income taxes, and the move to some form of federal sales tax.
  • As a non-American (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:48PM (#10515697) Journal
    (FYI I'm Canadian).

    I knew a bit about Kerry, and of course GWB, but I'm actually quite impressed with the interview and Nader's responses. I didn't know a lot about Nader prior to this, but while some of his dodges are a bit dissapointing, and some of his answers I don't agree with, I'm rather happy overall with the way he responded.

    Bush's answers were as expected... not likely coming from Bush, avoidist, and for most it's "sidestep issue... but we're planning on doing this wonderful blah blah and we've already blah blah," some of Kerry's answers also go this direction (not as much as Bush) and a few of Nader's.

    My main thoughts, however, are that written questions aren't much use as one never knows if you're getting the candidate, his secretary, and/or a canned answer. It seems obvious that Bush didn't write his answers... so wouldn't the best way of doing this be to get all three in seperate conferences, ask them the pre-written questions, and see the live squirming response? Of course, this would never happen, but it's the best way to get a real answer
  • factual (Score:5, Funny)

    by zpok ( 604055 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:50PM (#10515713) Homepage
    "President George Bush Responds:
    We are fortunate in America to have the best health care system in the world ..."


    Go ahead, believe him. Oh, and Holland is the capital of Belgium, the statue of liberty was made by mr. Liberty, a Godfearing American Quaker.
  • by xplenumx ( 703804 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @03:37PM (#10516361)
    With the average age of the questioners being ~25, including three in their thirties, I have to question the "youth" of the "Youth Debate".

    By the time one reaches their mid-twenties, I would hope that they would see themselves as an adult. Many of my peers and I own homes, have children, and hold well respected jobs - we certainly are not "youth".

    I certainly understand, and appreciate, that the organizers of this 'debate' were reaching out to non-senior citizens and that "youth debate" presents greater spin opportunities than "adult debate" or "pre-retirement age debate". However, labeling my age group as "youth" definitely marginalizes us and promotes the slacker Gen X stereotype that we're not ready for adulthood. Besides, I'd much rather the candidates speak to me as an equal, an adult.

  • by mirio ( 225059 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @06:26PM (#10518326)
    Ok, there is no such thing as a back door draft. I did my four years in the Navy so I know what I'm talking about. When you enlist, the very front page of your enlistment contract has in bold letters that you are actually enlisting for 8 years, with 4 (sometimes 3, sometimes 6 according to the rating/job your gonna be doing) years active service. It states very, very clearly that if the president so orders, you may be required to stay in longer than your four years.

    I'm no Bush fan either, but let's state the facts. It's a volunteer military. People voluntarily sign that contract. I want to bring our kids home too, but they signed the contract! It's no surprise to any of them!

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN