As announced on CNN last week, we’re hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 event. We invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’ve also compiled the best questions submitted by our readers’, and now you can vote on the one we’ll ask on live television: + Click here to vote

The famous query of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?” is still a very pertinent question for today. In light of the noticeable disagreement around policies that seek to address economic, educational, and immigration reform, my queries to the presidential candidates would focus on that directional and strategic question, “Where do we go from here?” These queries underline and imply an initial stock-taking of where the candidates see the nation now and where do they see the necessary future trajectory we need to take as a nation. Below is a list of questions I submit for their examination:

Savage Inequalities

Some years ago, Jonathon Kozol wrote Savage Inequalities highlighting the severe disparities in educational spending in school districts around the country. What educational reform do you propose as necessary to close the disparities between economically stable public schools districts and those with serious economic challenges? What role, if any, do you see Affirmative Action playing in the area of education?

The rising cost of healthcare in the United States manifests a gap between the haves and the have-nots. What would you do as president to ameliorate the burden of healthcare for the working poor and the unemployed?

It is no secret that many undocumented immigrants are migrating to the United States, and parts of Europe because of poverty (not to mention war, genocide, and disease). What foreign and domestic policies would you advocate to address the glaring and growing economic and digital divide between many countries in the Global North and the Global South? How would these policies respond to the multitudes of men, women and children in Latin America, Africa, and Asia who are struggling for survival and coming into the U.S. undocumented?

Life and Quality of Life

Many people of faith, including me, underline the importance of honoring life and ensuring, as far as possible, a decent quality of life how do you respond to their concerns on these issues of life…

· Given the realities and complexities of economics, race, and gender in our country, should capital punishment still be a part of U.S. societies dealing with the most heinous of crimes?

· What foreign policy should the U.S. pursue in the cases of genocide as seen in Rwanda and Burundi?

· How would you address the concerns of many around the large number of abortions in the U.S.?

· What policies should be enacted to ensure healthcare, quality education, and housing of many children born to poor single parents?

· How can we ensure a better quality of life for the people working in the United States who can not earn enough for subsistence?

Civil Discourse

In the days following 9/11, the tone of national discourse was an inspirational note of civility and mutual respect. It appears that once again the hostility in discourse and divisiveness has returned, particularly around comprehensive immigration reform, same-sex unions, and the war in Iraq (among other issues) in many parts of the country. What model of discourse would your administration set that could serve as a healthy model for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. all around the country? This is a critical query in light of the many examples of the demonization of “the other” that our children are hearing from all quarters of public life.

I pray that these questions (certainly there are many more of equal importance) would stimulate a necessary and healthy dialogue for people of faith, secularists, and all people of good-will around the U.S. that helps us underline what we really hold true and dear and how we treat each other.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero is the pastor of the Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene in New York City, a Ph.D. candidate at Union Theological Seminary, and the director of the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a board member for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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