You Do Not Have The Right To Remain Silent

Like all presidents, the next president will make decisions involving wars (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan), climate change, the economy, the Supreme Court – and dozens of other issues that will directly impact your life.  And the people currently running for president did not do so on a dare.  Public posturing notwithstanding, their campaigns have been years in the making.  They know where they stand on all of the issues.  It’s time that we knew, too.

The purpose of a campaign is to get elected.  The information a candidate discloses between campaign kick-off and the day she or he takes the oath is determined by need, not obligation.  We have all heard that a candidate will “say anything to get elected”.  I’m not nearly as concerned with what candidates tell us as I am with what they withhold.  And they withhold everything they believe will jeopardize their candidacy.  They know exactly what they will do if elected.

There is a straightforward, two-part solution to this.  First, the candidates need to be asked serious questions.  Second, they need to be made to answer. The responsibility for the former belongs to the media; the latter falls on the candidates.  Unfortunately for us, the candidates rely upon the media to ask irrelevant questions, and the media never disappoints.

This week’s media attention has been focused on whether Ben Carson has exaggerated his life story by claiming to have rejected a scholarship to West Point (40 years ago?), and whether Marco Rubio charged personal expenses to a charge card owned by the Republican Party in Florida, and paid the personal expenses later.  Beyond the fact that the reporting on this “scandal” has been contradictory at best, I don’t care if Ben Carson went to West Point.  Or didn’t go.  Or was offered a scholarship.  Or wasn’t offered a scholarship.  It makes no difference to me whatsoever, and tells me nothing about his positions on issues that are going to affect me.

As far as Rubio is concerned, exactly who is the victim in this non-story?  Rubio and the Republican Party both say that he charged personal items to the party’s card and paid the balance.  Why are we talking about this at all?  Anyone who has been paying attention to the Republican primary knows that Marco Rubio is smart, speaks extremely well in public while under pressure, and looks like he knows he is going to be elected president.  He has exceeded expectations in every race he has ever run.  We should know what he intends to do as president.

There’s an easy explanation for the great divide between the policies a candidate promises to enact, and the laws and orders we live with when that candidate is elected president.  And now is the time to find out what the applicants really intend to do if given the job.  They have no right to withhold their intentions.  All we have to do is ask.

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Rob Kilmer, the President of You Defend It, Inc. is a lawyer with a litigation practice in upstate New York.  He hosted the “You Defend It with Rob Kilmer” radio show until 2009 and since then has produced You Defend It debates..  He worked as a guest commentator for CBS4 in Miami during the 2012 Presidential debates, and Pulitzer Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote a piece on him called: “A Solution for Loud, Empty Talk”.

Mr. Kilmer’s initiative focuses on current, divisive issues, and provides members of the public with an opportunity to witness a dignified debate, the purpose of which is to identify how people’s lives will actually be affected by the outcome of the issue being debate.  Towards that end, You Defend It debates are governed by two, simple rules: 1) each debater must directly answer the question asked; and 2) each must do so without a single reference to his or her opponent’s argument, party or (presumed) political philosophy.  In other words, each debater is expected to show up at the debate with his or her own solution – and defend it.


You Defend It


“If you say it, prove it – because we live with the consequences.”

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