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While the pundits and people on social media are talking about the first U.S. Presidential debate—analyzing who won and lost—I want to add five questions to the mix.

  1. Why were there no opening and closing statements? In nearly every debate I can think of, candidates are presented with an opportunity to begin with an opening statement. This allows the nation to hear, in a brief segment, what the candidates are all about. Without opening and closing statements, we were just left to deal with what issues and questions were raised or happen to come up.
  2. What’s up with the audience? There are two possible options for an audience in debate like this. You can have the audience free to react, with applause, gasps and more, creating a football like atmosphere. Or you can have them stone silent, which makes one wonder why the audience is even there. In this debate, the audience was allowed to react here and there, which created a scenario of the worst of both worlds.
  3. What about the open Supreme Court seat? One of the most significant actions the next president will take is to nominate a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the sad passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. This is the “elephant in the room,” and the debate should have had at least one question about this. Not only would the question have practical implications, it also would tell us a great deal about their respective disagreements about the U.S. Constitution, about the role of the Judiciary and more. This was a huge missing ingredient.
  4. What about abortion? A hallmark of Hillary Clinton’s public life has been supporting the so-called “right to choose.” Her campaign is proposing the elimination of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents tax dollars going toward abortion, as well as continued funding of Planned Parenthood. Why, amid all of the debate questions was the sanctity of life not discussed? It is concerning that Donald Trump did not take the opportunity to bring these issues up, either.
  5. What about religious liberty? With growing religious persecution abroad and with threats to religious liberty at home, a case can be made that this issue is paramount. Linked to issues like marriage and national security, what the candidates think about religious liberty is key. Because this was not asked, a great disservice to people of faith—and the American people as a whole—was done.

For these reasons and more, it was a disappointing debate, one that seemed to be more about TV ratings and theatrics than the flourishing of justice and freedom in the American Republic and around the world.