Earlier this month, I sent a list of 13 questions about arts, culture and freedom of speech to representatives for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. For too long, these issues have been marginalized in national politics, and my goal was to get as many candidates as possible on the record on the subject, as well as to remind readers that culture plays a role in everything from our relationships with other countries to our economy.
On Thursday, Trump became the first candidate to respond to my questions. I’ve published his written responses in full below, with notes where he didn’t provide answers. I hope other presidential hopefuls will follow, and we’ll post their responses as they do.
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?
As I have made clear on countless occasions, the free market will inform us on what enterprises will flourish and which ones will fail. In the context of my campaign, I have also said on countless occasions that we should make sure that our free trade is also fair. If Chinese entertainment markets are closed because of unfair practices, then we have an obligation to make sure that our companies and enterprises are not being taken advantage of.
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?
We do have a long history of taking care of American citizens when they are unjustly detained outside the United States. However, not all administrations have been as aggressive as they should have been. A compelling national interest is to protect American citizens wherever they might be. In my administration, this approach will be followed with the utmost earnestness.
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?
Discussions of education policy have often focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, as a set of core competencies, though in recent years, advocates, including the Congressional STEAM caucus, have argued that art and design should be added to this list. What guidance would your Education Department give states as they begin allocating funding for arts education, which is considered part of a well-rounded education under the Every Student Succeeds Act?
The states are best able to determine how education dollars are spent. The federal government needs to get out of the education business and let the states, local districts and parents determine what is taught in our schools.
Does the federal government have a role to play in funding the creation and performance of art, or in making art accessible to all Americans? Federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts currently stands at $148 million. Do you think that funding level is appropriate? What would you request in your first budget as president?
The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be. I had the great fortune to receive a comprehensive liberal arts education from an Ivy League institution. What is most important is that we examine how one-size-fits-all approaches imposed by the federal government have corrupted the availability and efficacy of liberal arts education. Critical thinking skills, the ability to read, write and do basic math are still the keys to economic success. A holistic education that includes literature and the arts is just as critical to creating good citizens.
What do you believe is the proper role for the Federal Communications Commission in a changing communications environment? Should it regulate online content? What is your position on the commission’s net neutrality regulations?
If one believes in the free market system, then it is hard to imagine how the FCC is helping things with rules associated with net neutrality.
In 2014, the European Union established a “right to be forgotten” for its citizens. Should the United States adopt a similar practice? How would such a right interact with the First Amendment?
Again, this is something the people’s representatives should discuss and debate. The First Amendment protects free speech, the establishment and practice of religion, the free press, the right to assemble (and associate) and the right to bring grievances. Seems that pretty much encapsulates how would approach seeking the “right to be forgotten.”
In 2019, copyrighted works will begin entering the public domain in the United States under the terms of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Do you believe that the author’s lifetime plus 70 years is the proper length for copyrights to last? How would you balance the rights of creators and their families with the needs of archives, libraries and other artists who rely on material in the public domain to create new work?
Your questions seem to imply that the President can make law. Even though some Presidents have acted that way, I will not. The Congress will make this determination as is their Constitutional obligation.
Do the voluntary content ratings systems adopted by the movie, music and video game industries give parents enough information to make decisions about what is appropriate for their children? If not, is some sort of government system warranted?
I think you answered your own question. Parents should make the determination about what their children should watch or not watch. If they do not have enough information upon which to base those decisions, they should insist that their elected representatives act on those needs.
One of the president’s roles is to host events that involve arts and entertainment. Who would you ask to sing the National Anthem at your Inauguration? Who would you choose to give a reading? Are there particular artists the First Family would invite to the White House, or arts you would draw attention to as president?
First, there is no Constitutional obligation for the President to do what your question implies. That said, supporting and advocating for appreciation of the arts is important to an informed and aware society. As President, I would take on that role. As for identifying people to sing, read or invite to the White House, I will not identify them to save them from the media storm that would surely come. It would not be fair to them.
A significant part of the presidency is communicating with the public, so how would your administration approach the media? Would representatives of the administration sit in on interviews between government officials and reporters? Under what circumstances would you initiate leak investigations? How would your administration handle whistleblowers? Will you allow news photographers the same access as official White House photographers?
You are asking for answers to hypotheticals that cannot be answered until such time as my administration is in place and is able to assess security and access issues. As for transparency, it will not take much to improve of this administration. I promise a transparent administration with as much access as is reasonable for circumstances. As for whistleblowers, we are proposing a total revamp of the Inspector General system to include putting in place an Inspector General for the entire Executive Branch. I will work with Senator Grassley and others to make sure we protect whistleblowers. We want better government and governance.
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?
I will work with Congress to address the most pressing priorities of the people through our budgeting processes. Appropriate actions based on circumstances will determine outcomes for all agencies under the control of the federal government.