The vice presidential debate, the first of two general election debates held this election season, was held last night in conjunction with the Panem Debate Council and The Panem Free Press.
Candidates that competed were required to meet standards set by the PDC, of which five candidates met the qualifications:
- Vice President Rebecca Tarson (Liberty Party-District 12)
- Senator Jace Walters (Labor Party-District 10)
- Senator Quentin Kennedy (Civic Party-District 6)
- Secretary Delia Sutherland (Conservative Party-District 4)
- Representative Matthias Christian (Centre Party-District 10)
Topics of the vice presidential debate were separated into two sections: domestic policy and foreign policy. Questions were fielded from the audience in a townhall-style format moderated by Panem Free Press Capitol correspondent Carlton Beck. If a candidate’s name was invoked during another candidate’s response, the first candidate was allowed to respond.
Below are excerpts from the debate proceedings, based on subjects.
ON DOMESTIC POLICY:
Question: “Senator Kennedy, the nation of Panem is facing a serious morphling crisis, particularly in District 6. You have noted on the campaign trail that this crisis cannot stand, and that it must be dealt with immediately. What would be your solution to this drug epidemic?”
Senator Kennedy: “This crisis is abounding with no end in sight as it currently stands. The abuse of morphling destroys the lives of those who take it and those who are around them. Our best way to combat this, and the way that I championed recently in the Senate, is to limit physicians’ ability to prescribe such an addictive drug and to put oversight on the systems that distribute it. The majority of victims of morphling are not those who have been prescribed the drug. They are people who have suffered due to buying it on the black market.”
Question: “Secretary Sutherland, you have expressed discontent with the Mellark administration in regards to the size of the government. If you were elected vice president, what areas of the government would you champion to downsize?”
Secretary Sutherland: “It may be trendy to make new departments, but I don’t think it’s necessary. We have eighteen full-fledged departments, many of which cover small areas that could be covered by a larger overarching department. I would advocate to combine the Departments of Commerce and International Trade and the Departments of State and Global Development. This would not only downsize the size and scope of government, it would also save taxpayers millions.”
Question: “Senator Walters, do you believe that the federal government has done enough in regards to regulation of certain industries, such as the energy sector?”
Senator Walters: “I do not. The past two administrations have done absolutely nothing to protect industrial workers. We’ve seen coal miners and transportation workers engage in unsafe working environments, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Coriolanus Snow was ruling over Panem. It’s rather sickening to watch, considering that President Mellark and Vice President Tarson both are from District 12 and both dealt with the coal industry their entire lives. They should be concerned for the safety of these workers, and as vice president, I would look to help impose more stringent regulations on dangerous industries such as these to ensure that citizens are safer.”
Tarson’s response: “You’re right, Senator; I have lived around the coal industry my entire life. District 12 is undoubtedly the largest coal district in Panem, and we are proud of it. However, District 12 is also aware that by putting these regulations on them, that you are not making them any safer. Instead of being able to make a living, these workers are now out of a job because the coal mines can’t afford to employ them. While I appreciate your enthusiasm to make sure coal miners and all workers are safer, perhaps you should get to know a few of them first before making them political pawns. These workers know best, and they want to work.”
Question: “Vice President Tarson, your opponents have openly criticized you for your support of a tax cut for corporations, as signed into law by the President in his tax bill earlier in his term. What is the rationale for such a policy, and do you support corporations being so heavily involved in the political process through donations to campaigns?”
Vice President Tarson: “I don’t regret supporting that bill, not one bit. As you can probably tell, we no longer are in a recession. Our economic numbers are higher than they have been in a very long time, probably since Katniss Everdeen was in office. Clearly, cutting that tax rate spurred some much needed growth. As for corporations involved in the political process, I think that companies as a whole shouldn’t donate. I haven’t accepted any donations from major corporations. However, every person in Panem should have the right to participate in our political process, and if Senator Walters or Senator Kennedy or Representative Christian have an issue with that, they should really consider how that would be a violation of basic constitutional rights.”
Representative Christian’s rebuttal: “Madame Vice President, with all due respect, your donations may not directly from the corporations themselves, but the fact that company executives funnel millions into your campaign warchest is a clear indicator that you still aren’t any sort of independent from corporate interests.”
Senators Kennedy and Walters ceded their response time following Representative Christian’s response.
Question: “Representative Christian, you have spoken at length during your campaign rallies on government accountability and ensuring that the government remains open and transparent. Under the Canth administration, you were notably open about their lack of transparency and their corruption. What do you have to say regarding the same subject for the Mellark administration, and what would you change as vice president?”
Representative Christian: “While the Mellark administration has undoubtedly improved from the Canth administration on government transparency and corruption, let me remind everyone that the bar was rather low under President Canth. This administration, though marginally better, still has acted brazenly in including lobbyists and corporate interests into the legislative and executive process, corrupting the system that was set forth after the Revolution. We need a reset; we need to remember that a government that conceals its actions is a government that has something to hide. As vice president, the first thing I would push for is a lifetime ban on lobbyists serving in the White House and a ten-year waiting period before public officials could join the lobbying sector.”
ON FOREIGN POLICY:
Question: “Senator Walters, you have stated that Panem’s involvement in Greece was a ‘massive overreaching mistake that never should have occurred.’ How would you have recommended the response to the Greek crisis occurred?”
Senator Walters: “My statement wasn’t necessarily geared at non-involvement in Greece. Our involvement, beyond that of ensuring the safe return of nuclear weapons, was the issue. President Mellark and his administration- and yes, that would include you, Madame Vice President- are responsible for the loss of hundreds of Panem citizens’ lives due to the bungled response. We should have been better prepared to deal with such a crisis, and we should have put forward a concrete plan for how things would be handled.”
VP Tarson’s response: “Senator, that’s just heinous of you to exploit the tragic loss of these brave men and women. Our response was not bungled. It was as quick as we could make it. I understand that you have never sat in the Situation Room and made the tough decision to put our soldiers in harm’s way, but I figured that you were intelligent enough to understand that this decision was not taken lightly by the administration.”
Question: “Vice President Tarson, you have expressed that the need for a nuclear Panem is clear and that Panem should remain a nuclear power in order to deter other nations from bellicose actions. However, some of your opponents disagree with you heavily on this subject. Why exactly does the nation of Panem need to remain a nuclear power?”
Secretary Sutherland: “Well, we can start out by looking directly at what just happened in Greece. Greece attempted to obtain nuclear arsenals during their conflict with the Grecorussian Empire, leading to a foreign nuclear crisis. ”
Question: “Senator Kennedy, you have previously criticized the Mellark administration’s approach to foreign policy as, in your words, it “goes much farther than it should into others’ affairs.” Please explain what you meant in this statement.”
Senator Kennedy: “That statement largely refers to the idea that is prevalent within the Mellark administration that we should intervene in other nations’ issues. I know that this may be a radical approach for some on this stage, particularly the Vice President, but we have enough issues at home that we don’t need to worry about making Greece our colony.”
Tarson’s response: “You’re right, Senator; we do have issues at home to focus on, and in our administration, we have tackled key issues such as education, the economy, and tax reform. However, we cannot simply avoid foreign policy, as popular as that may be. We need to make sure our nation is safe from all enemies foreign and domestic..”
Question: “Vice President Tarson, there are growing concerns over human rights violations in nations like Oceania and Greece. What is your opinion on how we should combat such violations, or should we even have a role in ensuring against such violations?”
Vice President Tarson: “Without a doubt such human rights violations are not appropriate or acceptable. However, you bring a very valid question to the table: should we intervene? My personal opinion would be that we should respond when our assets or interests are at risk. However, beyond that, we should be cooperating with the Council of Nations to implement strict sanctions against the nations involved.”
Question: “Representative Christian, the nation of Oceania has threatened a trade war with the nation of Panem following what they refer to as ‘invasive acts’ on their soil due to our offensive to defeat the Oceanian Empire. What is your view on how we should respond to such threats?”
Representative Christian: “I have no doubt that Panem is prepared for such a trade war, but we should consider diplomacy in this matter. If it possible to deescalate such a conflict, it should be done with the utmost haste. I’m not certain if the Mellark administration has done so; however, I certainly urge a diplomatic ending to this.”
ANALYSIS: Based on flash polling conducted immediately after the debate, the following results occurred:
Which candidate do you believe won the debate?
Rebecca Tarson – 40 percent
Matthias Christian – 29 percent
Delia Sutherland – 12 percent
Jace Walters – 5 percent
Quentin Kennedy – 3 percent
Undecided – 11 percent
If the general election were held today, which candidate would you be most likely to vote for in the election for vice president?
Rebecca Tarson – 32 percent
Matthias Christian – 22 percent
Jace Walters – 16 percent
Delia Sutherland – 14 percent
Quentin Kennedy – 12 percent
Undecided – 4 percent
The results show clear movement for Vice President Tarson; the Vice President now leads the field following the debate by a stark ten points over her nearest competitor, Matthias Christian. While the race is expected to narrow, this is certainly a good sign for Tarson as she continues in her race for reelection.