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(CNN) -- Responding to queries from CNN.com readers, conservative commentator and former Cabinet secretary William Bennett expressed faith in the U.S. government's global standing and doubts about the mainstream media's objectivity and the viability of a strong third political party.
Host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show, "Bill Bennett's Morning in America," the CNN political analyst and Republican strategist touched on several controversial topics raised by readers as part of CNN's "Broken Government" series.
Why has the rest of the world pretty much lost faith in our democracy and government?
BENNETT: I don't think the rest of the world has lost faith in our democracy and government.
It is fashionable in some precincts to condemn the United States. We have not been popular in the Middle East for many years, and the university class (in Europe, especially) has a "sophisticated" view that is aped by academia in much of the U.S. professoriate.
But many millions of people around the world love America, Americans and the things America represents. If you are immiserated in a country virtually anywhere in the world and you saw a group of soldiers coming over the hill and you could pick which flag they were carrying, the American flag would still be the choice of many.
How do we as citizens stop our representatives from disregarding the will of the people?
BENNETT: Edmund Burke had this answer many years ago: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion."
The Founders believed there was a distinction between the "representativeness" between the members of the House and the Senate. The former should more directly represent the wishes of their constituents, the latter are supposed to filter those wishes and view them through a national prism. But the short answer: Vote 'em in or out of office as you see fit.
Why is everyone so afraid of talking about a national draft to solve some of the problems our military is facing?
BENNETT: Political leadership is afraid it will be very unpopular with the middle class, and very few candidates want to face that opposition. Second, though, the military does not want a draft: They prefer the commitment of the professional army.
But there is a moral case to be made for national service in which military service would be an option. Everyone in this country, whatever their skills, should do something -- they should be doing something for the republic.
Is there a bias in the mainstream media against the Republican Party?
BENNETT: Yes. And it is demonstrable. Survey after survey of powerhouse journalists -- on television, in newspapers and magazines -- show a clear liberal predisposition.
Why is it a teacher has to take tests to prove their knowledge of subjects, yet someone elected to Congress does not?
BENNETT: Literally, because people have a right to elect whomever they want, but no teacher has a right to be dumb. Presumably members of Congress demonstrate what they know during a campaign or debates or service itself. The Constitution does not speak of IQ or literacy thresholds for elected service.
That said, I actually believe the threshold for teachers is set pretty low.
The president and many members of Congress keep repeating that if the Democrats are elected to Congress, that our taxes will be raised. ... My question is: If that occurred, couldn't the president veto it?
BENNETT: The short answer is yes, the president could veto it. But remember, the tax cuts in force at present have to be renewed by an affirmative vote, which is unlikely to happen if the Democrats take control.
A bill to extend tax cuts will, in that case, never make it to the president. This, in effect, would be a tax increase. Remember, too, all tax legislation originates in the House.
Isn't it time there is a strong third party?
BENNETT: No, I don't think so. The history of third parties in America is not distinguished. They don't win, but often spoil. And they tend more to be eccentric than serious.
People can always try, of course. And it's funny and odd, but instructive, that the story of third parties in America doesn't come to much.
William Bennett was President Reagan's education secretary and President George H.W. Bush's "drug czar."
CNN SPECIAL PROGRAMMINGCNN's "Broken Government" explores all branches of government this week at 8 and 11 p.m. ET. The topics: Monday, Congress; Tuesday, the Democratic Party; Thursday, the power of the presidency; Friday, the GOP and the conservative base; Saturday, the judicial branch.
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