What I HOPE Gets Asked at the Presidential Debate, But Probably Won't

You can't fault me for dreaming

Joe Biden (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Public Domain) and Donald Trump (Public Domain)

I didn’t expect that I would be writing my initial thoughts about the first 2024 presidential debate at the end of June, but with the 9 p.m. ET primetime event happening Thursday night in Atlanta, it’s time. Consider this my first “official” opinion piece for The Latino Newsletter.

Here are my hopes of what this debate can cover, but I doubt it.

I would love one, just one, question about Puerto Rico. I am presenting four of them:

  1. The NOAA National Weather Service is predicting “above-normal hurricane activity” this season. Is FEMA ready if another Category 5 hurricane were to hit Puerto Rico like it did seven years ago during Hurricane María? And as a follow-up to Mr. Trump, your initial response in 2017 was seen by millions of Puerto Ricans on the island and the 50 states as insulting. Will you ever apologize for such insults? What would you say to those Puerto Ricans now?

  2. Mr. Biden, you recently appointed another Puerto Rico Fiscal Control Board member. Considering that La Junta is so unpopular and viewed as the latest example of U.S. colonialism, why do you still support it, and what do you tell Puerto Ricans who abhor it?

  3. Do you support independence or statehood for Puerto Rico? Yes or no. No comments about “the people of Puerto Rico should decide.” What is your own personal position and why? This question is for both candidates.

  4. Do you care at all about constant power outages in Puerto Rico? Why? Why not? This question is for both candidates.

Then, I have this question: “Mr. Trump, Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character who has nothing to do with anything. Why do you continue to use a fake character to inaccurately portray all immigrant communities as being violent? Why do you keep lying about that, and will you ever realize that this country needs immigrants now more than ever to support an aging American population?”

Over to Mr. Biden: “You have always been a moderate Democratic border hawk on immigration. Why? Have you changed? How so?”

A follow-up for Mr. Biden: “A new UnidosUS poll about Latinos in California, Texas and Arizona said, and I’m quoting, ‘52% of respondents are worried about being able to pay next month’s rent or mortgage.’ What do you tell these individuals as to why they should vote for you?”

Finally, for Mr. Trump: “You are calling for mass deportation camps without any consideration about how many immigrants you claim are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ are actually saving this country’s economic future by believing in the American Dream and saving cities and towns all across the U.S. Why do you hate them so much?'“

I could go on, especially regarding Latin America and other topics that U.S. Latinos are interested in, but my pessimism has been duly noted.

If there is one real wish for Thursday’s debate, I hope we will hear a real and substantive discussion about policy and saving our democratic system. That would be a pleasant surprise, yet given how American political media treats debates like a sporting event, I don’t expect it.

Happy debate night. I will still be rooting for accountability and democracy.

What We’re Reading Today

A Migrant Data Analysis: On Wednesday, The Washington Post published an incredibly detailed data analysis of new migrant populations in the country and where they reside. No matter where you stand on the issue of immigration, this type of data reporting is important to cite. (Story here)

Via The Washington Post

Julio Ricardo Varela is the founder of The Latino Newsletter.

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