Question: What should be the big issues of the 2008 presidential election?
Robert Menendez: I think the single biggest issue in 2008 should be where do we want to go as a country? That might not be viewed as an issue per se, but in my mind it’s an issue. It’s the overriding question. Where do we want to go as a country? Do we want to, as a country, be willing to say that we will take a significant part of our fellow citizens and say, “You know what? For some of us to do well, some of you cannot.” Are we willing to accept 40% of our human capital in communities of color not to fulfill their full potential and contribute to a greater America? Are we willing to go to sleep at night saying, “Well I have health care coverage, so I’m not worried about the 47 million who don’t, or the millions more who are underinsured”? Are we concerned about ensuring that we find the cures to some of the diseases that affect our fellow citizens so that my mother’s Alzheimer’s, or the young man I met with a spinal cord injury, or the husband with Parkinson’s, and so many other diseases . . . Are we willing as a country to say we accept that that is a human condition that we cannot change? And are we as a country willing at the end of the day to say we prefer to be known by the power of our bombs than the power of our collective intellect for good, and what that means in the world? So the big question is what type . . . The big issue is what type of America do we want to be? Because if we determine what type of America we want to be, then all the other things will come into play.
Recorded on: 9/12/07