The debate between President Biden and former President Donald Trump on CNN Thursday night ought to be more than rehearsed answers and soundbites we’ve heard before.

Polls show Americans are alarmed over what many feel is the unraveling of our country when it comes to the economy, uncontrolled immigration, the weakening of once-shared moral values and an unraveling of what used to be known as cultural norms.

Trying to pry loose some honest answers from politicians has always been a difficult exercise. Here are some of the questions I would ask if given the chance.

Polls find voters are most concerned about immigration and our borders, the economy and crime. It is obvious to anyone with eyes wide open that the border is not secure. 7 Then President Donald Trump and then-presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden debate during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020. AP

“The United States had some 10.2 million illegal immigrants in 2020, and another 10 million have entered during Biden’s presidency,” reports The Hill.

Many, it can safely be said, are gang members, criminals, some with terrorist ties, and let’s not forget the drugs. In a handful of cases, innocent Americans have even been murdered by undocumented immigrants.

President Biden, you swore for more than three years you could do nothing about the border without congressional action.

Now you have issued several executive orders limiting asylum access for migrants crossing the border unlawfully.

These actions have reportedly lowered border apprehensions in Arizona by nearly 40%. 7 “The United States had some 10.2 million illegal immigrants in 2020, and another 10 million have entered during Biden’s presidency,” reports The Hill. AFP via Getty Images 7 Workers unpack equipment at McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech University ahead of the Thursday’s CNN 2024 Presidential Debate. Getty Images

US Customs and Border Protection data also show there has been a “25% decrease in daily encounters between ports of entry.”

No news yet on the flow of drugs, so not quite a complete victory. What would you do differently in a second term to address the border?

Follow-up: You and former President Barack Obama have pledged to “fundamentally transform America.” Does that mean flooding the nation with people who broke our laws to get here, allowing them to become citizens and, as critics say, perpetual Democratic voters?

For Trump: You have said you would deport millions of undocumented migrants, but last week you seemed to modify your position. Explain the actions you would take. 7 Biden delivers remarks on Trump’s guilty verdict from the White House on May 31, 2024. Getty Images 7 Trump speaks at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on June 5, 2024. Getty Images

For Biden: The Congressional Budget Office projects the national debt will have reached $56 trillion by 2034. The main drivers of debt are Social Security, Medicare and other federally funded programs. These must be reformed because no nation in history has been able to sustain itself with so large a debt. What would you do to protect people now receiving these benefits but overhaul them to allow these programs to continue for future generations?

For Trump: You added $8 trillion to the national debt during your four years in office. How would you reduce spending and the debt?

For Biden: Polls show people are concerned about a new wave of crime and soft prosecutors who allow repeat offenders to walk free and in some cases commit new crimes. Would you urge a tougher-on-crime approach and the replacement of these prosecutors?

For Trump: Why do you call so many Democrats and some Republicans names while speaking nicely about Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping? What do you hope to accomplish by demeaning your fellow citizens? Start and end your day informed with our newsletters

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For Trump: You have claimed Putin would never have invaded Ukraine and war would not have broken out between Israel and Hamas if you were president. On what basis can you say that?

For both: Iran is on the verge of producing a nuclear weapon. You both and Israel have said that cannot be allowed. What would you do to stop it and can you afford to wait?

For Biden: Democrats seem to be consumed by the abortion issue. Nearly 64 million abortions have been performed in America since Roe v. Wade was enacted in 1973. As a Catholic, doesn’t that cause you concern and why won’t you at least endorse adoption as an option?

For Trump: The president has called you a “threat to democracy” and a “convicted felon.” What can you do to ease voters’ fears about the first and would you pardon yourself of any additional federal charges if you are re-elected? 7 Then President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, 2018. AP 7 President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Geneva Switzerland on June 16, 2021. AP

For both: You have and apparently will continue attacking each other. Say something nice and substantive you like about your opponent.

Hey, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, you have your own credibility problems having attacked Trump so often. Let’s try to be fair Thursday night.

Cal Thomas’ latest book is A Watchman in the Night: What I’ve Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America.