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A Republican, A Democrat and a Rock Star Walk Into an Election...

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 1/04/2016 Krist Novoselic

We may seem an unlikely political collaboration - two former members of Congress, one, a progressive Democratic, the other a conservative southern Republican, along with the bass player for the rock group Nirvana. From those diverse backgrounds, we are united by a deep concern that the generation of Americans who have the most at stake in this election have little if any influence on the outcome while certain leading candidates ignore, deny or dissemble about the issues that matter most.

As we see it, three urgent questions face America, and if the next president, Congress and the American people themselves do not answer those questions honestly and realistically, the future for our children and the nation will be immensely more difficult. These issues are so important that no person running for federal office, regardless of their party, age, wealth, personal charisma or anything else, should deserve a vote unless they tell the voters:

● What specific actions will you take and what will you ask the American people to do to reduce the debt of the United States?

● What specific actions will you take and what will you ask the American people to do to solve global climate change and ocean acidification?

● What specific actions will you take and what will you ask the American people to d, to restore the respect and confidence of the American people in their elected government?

Why these questions?

There are countless important issues in any election, but these three challenges, if not solved now, pose the gravest threat to the nation going forward. We must make it politically safe for all candidates and parties to propose and enact honest solutions, and we must make it politically unsafe for those who refuse to do so.

To achieve that goal, we are urging all Americans of all ages and parties to make a simple but powerful commitment to only support candidates and parties that offer real and practical solutions to all three questions. To show support, people can raise their hands at rallies, town halls, and everywhere else with the "okay" gesture turned backwards to convey a simple message -- three fingers, three questions, real answers or no votes.

Every day we fail to act on the growing federal debt (now more than 19 Trillion Dollars) or the indisputable problems of climate change and ocean acidification, those problems become all the more difficult to solve while the consequences for our children grow more severe And every day divisive political parties or candidates ignore or deny that the problems even exist, or dither about smokescreens that are far less important, the future for our children and grandchildren grows dimmer.

There was a time when the future generations were our highest priority and we were willing to sacrifice to make things better for them. We need to restore that value. That is why each of the three questions specifically ask candidates to say how they will engage the American people to be part of the solution. It has been far too long since "We the people" heeded a call to do our part for the good of the nation.

When we insist that candidates answer questions honestly, we must also commit personally to supporting responsible policies and taking action, even if that action is difficult and even if it demands sacrifice and change.

America's seniors and baby boomers, who vote in the highest percentages, can leave a better legacy by telling political candidates and parties to stop "pandering to the elderly" and instead do what's right for the future generations. Meanwhile, newly eligible voters and millennials can re-engage around these three questions on campuses, in their social groups and online. And, though too young to vote, most of the more than 73 million Americans under 18 are certainly old enough to care and to demand answers and action. Finally, the media can stop blathering about campaign strategy, slights and ephemeral polls and instead start demanding and objectively analyzing answers to the three questions that matter most.

The message to candidates and parties is simple -- if you want to earn the right to represent us and lead this nation, you must earn that right with honest answers to the questions that matter and that will determine our future. That, is what real leaders do.

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To learn more about the issues and this non-partisan initiative,

Brian Baird is a former Democratic member of Congress from Washington State and co-chair of 3 American Questions.

Bob Inglis is a former Republican member of Congress from South Carolina, founder/executive director of republicEn and co-chair of 3 American Questions.

Krist Novoselic, the bass player for Nirvana is author "Of Grunge and Government" and Chairman of FairVote.

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