By Ted Braun
On October 16, the day of the second presidential debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, the most important questions of that day were not asked during the debate in the evening.
In the afternoon, sixty-six Hofstra faculty and staff members issued a statement calling for a "real debate" on poverty, peace, and human rights. The questions they raised are indeed critical ones and deserve our nation's thoughtful attention:
"In this election year, we are concerned that neither campaign has addressed vital issues of peace, social justice, and human rights.
"With forty-six million Americans now in poverty, it is a stunning abdication of responsibility to refer exclusively to problems of the middle class. What shall be done for the 22 percent of children in the richest country in the world, who lack adequate food, housing and access to quality education?
"With states and cities across the United States laying off hundreds of thousands of teachers, firemen, hospital workers and other public employees, why is there no acknowledgement by either candidate that this is not an imagined future but a contemporary reality? And why are there no serious proposals on the table for reversing these losses?
"With heightened alarm about the deficit and the curtailment of essential human services from day care facilities, to senior citizens centers, to repair of our bridges, roads and transportation network, why are candidates from both parties advocating military expenditures for FY 2013 that are in excess of $600 billion?
"With one American soldier committing suicide every day, another 2,000 killed, an estimated 15,000 Afghan civilians who have perished in violent attacks, $500 billion already spent, why is the United States government planning to remain in Afghanistan for another two years? Can either candidate explain how this will achieve any practical goal? And if there is none, why are we continuing to forfeit money and lives?
"With American Predator drones hovering over foreign territory in Pakistan and Yemen, terrorizing the inhabitants and assassinating individuals for unstated, undocumented reasons, can either candidate explain why this will make our country more secure? Or how this will protect our people from the anger that such attacks inspire?
"These urgent questions require forthright answers. And we call upon both candidates and the Town Hall moderator to provide the American public with a real debate over how we can best protect human rights, advance social justice and end unnecessary wars."