Alyssa Rosenberg March 17 at 2:00 PM, Washington Post
Image from, with caption: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" rapped a freestyle in the Rose Garden of the White House with President Obama. Miranda rhymed phrases such as "carbon footprint" and "Sunny and Bo."
It’s been difficult to predict anything in this topsy-turvy election season, but for those of us who care about the arts, culture, technology and freedom of speech at home and abroad, one constant has held disappointingly true. The way the people pursuing the highest office in the land talk about these important issues still ranges from hollow to downright cowardly — is there a sillier cliche in politics than the idea that eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts would make a meaningful difference in the federal budget?
So in an effort to re-frame the conversation, this week I sent the remaining candidates for the presidency this list of questions about the arts and culture, and how they intersect with everything from trade policy to care for wounded veterans. I developed these questions in consultation with my colleagues here in the Opinions section of The Post, and through conversations with arts organizations, free speech advocates, privacy scholars and even an expert on stolen antiquities. I’ve asked the campaigns to respond to these questions by April 15. We’ll publish their responses as they come in, along with profiles of the candidates’ records on the arts.
• According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2013, arts and cultural businesses were a $704.2 billion part of the American economy, and produced a $24.1 billion trade surplus. What policies do you think would best promote economic growth in this sector, and protect and expand this trade surplus, especially in light of continuing questions about access to the Chinese entertainment market?
• Should the United States have a foreign policy doctrine that determines how the administration responds when artists, writers and journalists are detained, executed or kidnapped by foreign governments? If so, what should that doctrine consist of?
• There are many different tools a president can use to make foreign policy; what role would informational efforts and public diplomacy play in yours? What would your administration’s strategy be for programs like Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and the Voice of America? What do you think is the role of the State Department’s under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs? What about the role of Goodwill Ambassadors; who do you think best represents America’s brand?
• How should the United States respond to Internet censorship by foreign governments? ...
• The federal government administers a large network of museums: the Smithsonian Institution. What will your priorities for the Smithsonian be during your time in office?