In our "Question of the Day" feature for this year's Ideas Special Report, our readers tackle some of the emerging issues that are defining our time.
All seven candidates insisted that the key to economic revival was to take a sledgehammer to taxes, spending, and regulation. They engaged in a bidding war over the federal initiatives that they would repeal, with some promising not only to uproot Obama's health care plan, but also his financial-services reform and even Bush's post-Enron corporate reforms. None directly criticized the House Republican plan to convert Medicare into a premium-support, or voucher, system that would provide seniors a fixed sum to buy private insurance.In their metronomic agreement, the Republican contenders reaffirmed the tail-wagging-the-dog quality of their contest. The agenda that the party wants to carry into 2012 already has been largely defined by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, confrontational Republican governors such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker, and the uncompromising ethos of the tea party activists who helped power the GOP's 2010 recovery.In the presidential race, the party doesn't appear to be looking for someone to write a new script; it is debating who will be the most reliable, and effective, messenger for the script that the party has already written. That means that the nomination race is less likely to revolve around ideological differences than around questions of authenticity and electability.