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15 Tough Questions For Political Candidates

Less than a month remains before the first Tuesday in November, and the current election cycle is finally beginning to peak.

Many self-identified conservative commentators are breathlessly reminding us that “This is the most important election of our lifetimes” while they’re busy helping set up the Republican Kool-Aid stand.

Democrats seem to be keeping a fairly low profile this year, perhaps conscious at last of the mounting frustration of an electorate that has had a bellyful of government imposition in the form of a health care law that was enacted over the protests of many Americans.

The memory of November 1994 and the house cleaning that took place in Congress that year is still causing sleepless nights for many politicians.

I’m certain that many voters, across the spectrum, are determined to make their voices heard this election, but if they allow themselves to be shepherded into the voting booth along party lines, they are playing a loser’s game.

The real issue for this and for every election is determining which candidate best understands and supports the proper role of government.

The trouble is, most candidates have a tendency to become rather chameleon-like when running for office and can endlessly spout heart-warming platitudes about their love of liberty, patriotism, and the Constitution.

In other words, they’re very good at telling us what we want to hear if we don’t ask the right questions.

So how can we accurately determine a candidate’s stand on the proper role of government without giving them a chance to showcase their tap-dancing skills?

It’s all in asking the right questions.

Many years ago, I stumbled across a questionnaire created by Vin Suprynowicz, a syndicated columnist with the Las Vegas Review Journal, that enables the questioner to effectively analyze a given candidate’s true understanding of the proper role of government.

I’ve actually used these questions on numerous local, state and national candidates on my radio talk show. I can attest to the fact that these questions — and their follow up — allow candidates virtually no wiggle room for escape.

Try them on those lucky candidates with whom you have the opportunity to chat and watch them either shine or slink away in shame depending upon their knowledge and understanding of the Constitution, which they will swear to uphold in their oath of office.

CAUTION: This is powerful stuff; use it carefully.

1. Can lawmakers enact legislation for any purpose “in the public interest,” or are they limited to those functions for which they’ve been delegated specific powers?

Can you name some areas where government could probably do some good, but where it has no delegated power to act?

If you can’t name any such areas, is it still accurate to say Americans have a “government of limited powers?” Does this matter?

2. Can you name any departments or programs not specifically authorized in the state’s (or the nation’s) founding documents?

Should someone who has sworn an oath to protect the Constitution, but who then votes to allocate tax funds to programs or departments not authorized by that Constitution, be punished? If not, why not?

3. Can you name a current tax that you would repeal? A fee?

4. Are residents of our state free to engage in any business they choose?

Is operating any local business for profit a privilege, for which a citizen should apply for a permit, paying a fee or tax?

Would you favor any changes in this regard?

5. Do residents of this state have a right to buy and keep machine guns? Why or why not?

6. Do residents of this state have a right to carry handguns openly on their hips without applying for or receiving a “permit?”

Why or why not? Would you change current law enforcement in this area? In what way?

7. Should judges tell jurors they have a right to decide whether the law in question is constitutional?

Is it a fair trial if the judge tells the jurors they do NOT have a right to decide the constitutionality of the law?

Should judges be allowed to prevent defendants from presenting any defense they choose? If not, what is the proper recourse in the case of a judge who refuses to let the defendant do so?

8. Should judges exclude prospective jurors after questioning them and determining they do not favor the law which the prosecution seeks to enforce?

If so, why do we still call them “random juries?” Does that mean the John Peter Zenger jury should have been stacked with crown sympathizers?

Should juries have been stacked in the 1850s to guarantee convictions under the Fugitive Slave Act?

Should judges be punished for thus excluding jurors based on “voir dire” questioning?

Alfred the Great summarily executed judges who replaced jurors who refused to convict. Would this be a good solution for us to adopt, today? Why not?

9. Should it be legal for police to search automobiles without a warrant?

Is it okay for police to tell drivers they have to consent to such a search? If a police officer searches a car without a warrant, should the police officer be arrested and put on trial? If not, why not?

10. If a police officer stops a car in which the driver is carrying a legal pistol, with a permit, should the officer disarm the driver before proceeding to write a ticket?

Why or why not?

11. If police serve a search warrant which does not list any firearms, but they find firearms in the house being searched, is it OK for them to seize the firearms anyway?

Why or why not? Would you favor a law to alter current practice in this regard? If so, specify.

12. Do we need more “gun control” (victim disarmament) laws?

If so, name one new “gun control” law you would favor. If not, can you name a current “gun control” law you would repeal?

13. Can a tax rate be so high that it’s not acceptable?

If so, name a tax rate so high that citizens would be under no moral obligation to pay it.

If you can’t name such a rate, are you saying the government has a right to take 100 percent of what we earn and what we own?

14. Is the war on drugs succeeding?

Can it succeed? Should all drugs be legalized? If not, why not? Should recreational drug users be committed for psychiatric treatment?

15. Whose powers are limited by the 10th Amendment?

Can you think of any ways to improve enforcement of the 10th Amendment? No, you can’t look it up.

A Likely Reaction

Not many candidates can endure more than a couple of these questions before suddenly remembering an overdue appointment or excusing themselves to visit with someone who’s more interested in what pork they can provide for the electorate.

But this isn’t just a sophomoric game of “Gotcha” for those voters who are serious about moving the cause of liberty.

It’s an opportunity to exercise the kind of stewardship we should be exercising every day of every year as we participate in governing ourselves.

Asking these types of questions requires a sweet boldness, a dose of diplomacy and a willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of those who are unaccustomed to being held to account.

You won’t make many friends among the political class, but then again, you’ve probably already recognized that their interests and your interests aren’t exactly the same thing, haven’t you?

And should you decide to step up and run for office yourself, you’ll already know what someone who stands for liberty and the proper role of government must understand.


bryanhyde1Bryan Hyde is a radio host, husband, father, graduate student at George Wythe University, and seeker of truth. He does professional voice work through his company One Clear Voice.

Bryan blogs at The White Rose Society and writes firearm reviews for The Truth About Guns. He and his wife Becky are raising their six children in Cedar City, Utah.

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  1. Jake Christiansen says

    What a stellar list. I think I’ll actually put it to memory. Thanks Brian!

  2. Bryan, Excellent questions. My son passed them on to me. I have to admit that I don’t understand the full impact of any one of the questions. It’s embarrassing to think that I don’t have a deep enough understanding of the foundation of this great country. I profess to be conservative, and I know I am by nature. I try to keep an open mind every time I hear anyone speaking on any issue, and then try to make a choice based on what I feel is truly right, according to what I understand of the constitution. I believe I usually come out on the right side, but I understand that I need to devote more time to studying and comprehending our foundational documents, their intent, our founding father’s intent, where we’ve gone wrong, and what we need to do to correct the dilemna we face. Keep doing what you’re doing. I hope the “change” that is coming this election will be the starting point for the kind of change that will lead us back to greater liberty, security, and prosperity.


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