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Question of the Week
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The best reader responses to the latest question we asked in our Politics & Policy Daily newsletter (sign up here).

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Q of the Week: What Books Inform Your Daily Life?

Andrew Burton / Reuters

President Obama told The New York Times that reading books like The Three-Body Problem and The Underground Railroad helped him “slow down and get perspective” during his eight years in the White House.

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share which books inform their daily lives and help keep things in perspective. Here are some of our favorite responses.

Tom Lucas suggested The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah:

The story of how French citizens faced so much difficulty during the Nazi occupation is relevant today when we talk about ISIS and how they took over cities in the Middle East.  I’m sure many of those citizens didn’t want to take in the soldiers but were forced to do it in order to protect their families.  We are so far removed from this kind of suffering that it can be difficult to imagine, and understanding it more makes me appreciate how small our problems in America are by comparison.

Thomas Gierach suggested both fiction and nonfiction: Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, and Stamped From the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Gail Driscoll enjoys Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, Jon Meacham’s American Lion, and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegywhich she says “exposes the complexity of the problems facing much of the Rust Belt.”

Dennis Van Tine / STAR MAX / AP

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share their plans for 2017. Dozens of readers sent in their goals for the new year, and many resolved to become more politically engaged. Here are a handful of our favorite responses:

From Tom Lucas, 42, manager of a reinsurance brokerage firm:

My resolution in 2017 is to take less information at face value and to delve deeper into topics before I form an opinion. I think this will give me a broader perspective on issues and allow me to understand both sides of a debate.

Joanne Allard, 58, from Tucson:

I’ve recently decided to try and make eye contact with and pass along a cheerful well-wish to people I ordinarily ignore. I’m talking “hellos,” “good afternoons,” “lovely weathers,” etc., with an emphasis on projecting genuine interest. I just got to thinking one day that I tend to avoid contact with people who look as though they’d staunchly disagree with my politics, and it occurred to me that maybe I could help make next year a better one by trying to connect in a positive way.

From Maura Lynch Rubley, 37, high school teacher of government and law:

I have two resolutions for 2017. The first is to find more ways participate in preserving the great American experiment of democracy. The second is to spend more time with my students talking about the importance of reading a variety of reliable news sources, and avoiding both fake news and echo chambers.

Patty Ware, 55, retired from a career in social services:

Normally, I don't make resolutions for the New Year. This year, I will work hard to stick with two:

We asked readers to share the tunes that get them in the holiday spirit, and we compiled our favorite answers to create the first-ever Politics & Policy Daily Holiday Playlist. Have a listen:

  1. Soul Cake” by Sting
    (Recommended by reader Joan Conroy)
  1. Winter Wonderland” by Ella Fitzgerald
    (Recommended by readers Mack & Cheryl McManus)
  1. Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
    (Recommended by reader Denise Parker)
  1. Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid
    (Recommended by reader Danita Armant)

  1. Aussie Jingle Bells” by Bucko & Champs
    (Recommended by reader Kaye Schofield)
  1. The Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
    (Recommended by reader John Micek)

  1. Silent Night” by Stevie Nicks
    (Recommended by reader Diana Vered)
  1. Hanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler
    (Recommended by reader Jeff Dobrozsi)
  1. I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake
    (Recommended by reader Deb Bell)
  1. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Gayla Peevey
    (Recommended by reader Dave Williford)

  1. Green Grows the Holly” by Calexico
    (Recommended by reader Matthew Kozak)
  1. Elf’s Lament” by Barenaked Ladies
    (Recommended by reader John Kerry)
  1. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC
    (Recommended by reader Christine)

  1. Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte
    (Recommended by Elaine Godfrey)
  1. This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway
    (Recommended by Candice Norwood)

This week, we asked readers of the Politics & Politics Daily to share their favorite characters from political movies and TV. Here are some of our favorite responses:

Neel Lahiri’s pick was Selina Meyer from the TV show Veep, a character “who epitomizes the kind of farcical, utterly vain, and insatiably power-hungry [politician] that the electorate despises.”

From reader Christina Kopp:

My favorite political figure on TV is Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. When faced with the annihilation of the human race, she doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in. Ah, only on TV!

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

We can all agree that 2016 has been a long year, but this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to explain what they’re most thankful for in the world of politics.  Here were some of our favorite responses:

Miriam Helbok said she’s grateful for Bernie Sanders’s campaign because it “energized and perhaps even awakened thousands of young people to the importance of taking an active part in maintaining our democracy.”

For several readers, including David Lippman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s loss in Arizona was “the only piece of positive news in a horrifying political year.”

Carl Dennis writes:

One of my favorite political responses this year happened as a result of one of the greatest tragedies in American history. After the shooting in Orlando at a gay bar, the outpouring of support and love expressed by political figures of both parties from President Obama to GOP figures gave me a glimmer of hope that in spite of our differences, we will be able to come together to support one another.

Grace Lutfy had a whole list of 2016 positives:

Mario Anzuoni / AP

This week we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers what they thought the presidential candidates should be for Halloween, and we got a number of great responses. Thanks to everyone—and there were several—who suggested Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump simply dress as each other to achieve peak scariness.

But props to Joanne Allard from Tucson for a truly creative submission: Allard suggested Clinton will dress as Ellen Ripley, the protagonist from the 1979 film Alien, while Trump go as the alien, wearing an orange headpiece. From Joanne:

I will resist the temptation to suggest her obvious catchphrase, except to point out that it would, of course, be delivered upon her reaching in to grab, er, to extract The Donald.

Reader James Miles suggested Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson dress as Elmer Fudd, and John Bianchi said Green Party nominee Jill Stein would be Gaia—“nuff said.”

A handful of other costume ideas came from Jane Wilson, who got really into word play. For Trump:

1. Putin’s Puppet / Moscow Muppet
3. Hot Mic
4. Mr. Bigly

And for Clinton:

1. Neo-Nasty
2. ALT + Right + DELETE
3. Swamp Queen

Tina Fey poses with her Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" in Los Angeles on September 12, 2009. Danny Moloshok / Reuters

Last weekend, Donald Trump tweeted his distaste for Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, calling the show “boring and unfunny.” But SNL, which has been poking fun at presidential elections since 1976, is experiencing its highest ratings in eight years. Back then, during the 2008 election, Tina Fey famously guest-starred to play then-vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

This week, we asked readers via Politics & Policy Daily to share their favorite SNL election sketches. Here are some of the best responses.

This week in our Politics & Policy Daily newsletter, we asked readers who should represent the Red Planet if President Obama’s goal is accomplished and humans are able to “remain there for an extended time.” We got some great responses via hello@. Michael Wood reminds us that Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic congressman and presidential contender, once saw a UFO and claimed he had “felt a connection in his heart and heard directions.” Wood said Kucinich is “clearly best positioned to continue his role as liaison.”

Props to reader Michael Zarrelli for recommending the late James Traficant, another Democratic congressman from Ohio, who used to end speeches with the phrase “Beam me up!” Zarrelli’s idea is echoed by regular question-answerer Howard Cohen: “Perhaps the ashes of former Rep. James ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ Traficant have already reached Mars and they already have a ‘congressman’”?

Another reader, Dirk Bloemendaal, suggested that California Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown might make a good Mars representative:

He has always had a fascination with outer space and once proposed that California launch its own space satellite.  Of course, he’d have to run for Congress, on the “far out” plank, and his advanced age may slow him down a bit—but his California Dreamin’ Drive would see him through!

Lastly, Catherine Martin has some 2016 election snark: “I think we should send Donald Trump to ‘remain there for an extended time.’”

As our own Megan Garber leads The Atlantic’s movie club in the weeks leading up to Election Day, we asked what politics-related film our Politics & Policy Daily readers consider to be mandatory viewing for all Americans. We got loads of submissions for classics like The Candidate, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Advise & Consent. Big props to Michael J. Sweat for reminding us about the 2006 film Idiocracy, starring Luke Wilson.

And to Alicia Shepard for All the President's Men, which she calls “a fascinating window into the changing world of journalism and the nefarious world of Nixon’s presidency.”

And from avid Daily reader Howard Cohen: “Given the conspiracies that Trump has been putting out going back to the birther issue—including that the election will be rigged if he loses—there is no better political flick to watch before November 8 than The Parallax View.”

Another reader offered a movie for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, letting us “guess for which candidate each film is germane”:

Jeb Bush, one of the Republican presidential candidates this year, made a cameo as a limo driver during the Emmy Awards last Sunday night. Rick Perry, who also briefly ran for the White House, is now a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. This week, we asked readers where they expect to see the former 2016 presidential contenders on television, and we got some great answers.

Props to reader Jeremy Glenn for predicting Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson will end up on “the next installment of Survivor”—assuming he doesn’t win in November, that is.

But our personal favorite comes from reader Joanne Allard, who expects Dr. Ben Carson to show up in an ad for the sedative Ambien, although “through the list of possible side effects, he’ll have moved on to an ad for luggage.”

And even though House Speaker Paul Ryan never ran for president, Joanne would not be surprised if the CrossFit fanatic ended up performing promotional videos “for extreme-fitness programs that air at 2 a.m.”

Finally, here’s a whole slew of ideas from one of our regular contributors, Dirk Bloemendaal:

Donald Trump: Modern Family, ’cause he’d fit right in. (Alternative: Game of Thrones, because Winter is Coming.)

Hillary Clinton: The Voice, ’cause hers is so melodic and smooth when she raises it.

Gary Johnson: Big Bang Theory. With his endorsement of THC lozenges, he’d make a great whacky professor making money on the side.

Jill Stein: Naked and Afraid. Greenie in the wilderness—’nuff said!

Critics pounced on Today Show host Matt Lauer for his handling of NBC’s Commander in Chief forum featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, foreshadowing the level of scrutiny the moderators will face during this fall’s presidential debates. The scheduled moderators are Anderson Cooper of CNN, Lester Holt of NBC, Martha Raddatz of ABC, and Chris Wallace of Fox News—and they’re already feeling the heat.

So, this week we asked readers to offer their thoughts on who might make the best presidential debate moderator and why. Several readers suggested MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Here’s Marguerite Beaudoin’s reasoning:

It is my opinion that Rachel Maddow would be a great moderator, despite the fact that she is a Democrat. She is capable of conducting herself in an unbiased and professional manner and can “handle” both of them without doubt.

Here’s Maddow in action:

There was also a lot of support for Democracy Now! host and producer Amy Goodman. Why? Reader Lisa McDaniels picked Goodman because she’s “smart, has an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge, is even-tempered, is independent/not owned by corporate media, and looks like a real human being, not an air-brushed celebrity.”

A particularly great suggestion came from reader Steven Durham, who really wishes Judge Judy could moderate the presidential debates:

She would destroy Trump for having no substance; she would destroy Clinton for her terrible campaigning skills; and she’d be entertaining, which is what the American voter apparently needs in order to be engaged.

Reader Joe Bookman suggested The Atlantic’s very own Molly Ball: “She is smart, fair, has demonstrated knowledge of the issues as well as the candidates, and is likely not well-known by the candidates themselves.” Another reader, David Murray, described what a talented debate moderator would bring to the stage:

The best moderator, in my opinion, will:

a) Hold the speaker accountable for a clear answer and do not allow a speaker to side-step a question.

Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week, and Candice and I posed a new question to our Politics & Policy Daily readers: What book should be required reading for every senator and representative? We got an overwhelming number of responses, but here are a few of our favorites:

Martha Allen was the first of many to suggest Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson’s widely acclaimed memoir detailing his career as a young lawyer, fighting against injustice in America’s criminal-justice system.

Another popular submission was The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli’s 16th-century manual on manipulating your way to power. Thanks to Jerry Purmal for being the first to suggest it.

In case you’re curious: Michael Ignatieff examined The Prince more closely in his piece for The Atlantic back in December 2013, asking whether President Obama is “Machiavellian enough.”

One particularly thoughtful response came from Briauna Barrera:

If I could assign one book for every member of Congress to read (and perhaps everyone period) it would be Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.