I hope someone will ask both candidates in tonight’s presidential debate this two-part question about the so-called fiscal cliff that we are heading toward:

“First, are there any terms in your and your party’s established positions on fiscal matters where you would be willing to compromise if you become president-elect?

“Second, will the two of you agree to meet or have your advisers meet before the election and make a good-faith effort to find common principles and as much common understanding as possible toward a solution to the fiscal cliff that responsible members of both parties can support?”

The perception of hopelessly gridlocked government damages all citizens and both parties. The candidates’ willingness and ability to overcome it is something we should be able to evaluate before the election, not after.

Arnold R. Isaacs, Pasadena, Md.