October 10, 2016

5 Min Read
A few more farmers, fewer politicians

America, and frankly other parts of the world, tuned into the second presidential debate last night to witness the next unbelievable moment. The 2016 presidential run is like a bizarre plot in a low-budget mini-series that you cannot turn off. You just keep watching. You fight the good judgment just to turn it off, and at the end, you will eventually declare that it is valuable time you will never get back. Unfortunately, this ultimate cliffhanger is still four weeks off when the final votes are tallied.

Honestly, this presidential election campaign season is one that will be talked about for years, but not in a good way. While the world record is being set for the number of insults two presidential candidates can exchange, the meat of the actual issues is yet to be discussed. That is the real tragedy, my friend, because many voters are left undecided.

Although the second debate was set in a town hall format, it still took 30 minutes to pass before Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton answered a legitimate question. Leading into the debate, America was promised 12 questions would be asked — half from the audience and rest from online. The mission of the night was to ask as many of those questions as possible. 

Judging from the thousands of questions submitted to the Open Debate Coalition, U.S. voters want to discuss genuine issues and not listen to a string of cheap shots and watch the candidates bob and weave. The moderators of the debate agreed to consider asking some of the most popular questions submitted with solid topics such as gun control, climate change and food policy.

Yet, agriculture — a leading driver of the U.S. economy — seems to be missing in cyberspace with those deleted emails or perhaps behind the border wall. Even though related topics such as trade has grabbed some mic time, the major issues shaping agriculture have remained untouched — possibly by design.

Who would want to get the hands that feed you upset?

Or maybe Clinton and Trump fear exactly what Toby Keith sings in his latest hit — the world would be a better place with a few more cowboys and cowgirls. A lot more boots and jeans and fewer suits and ties could make the nation great again. Perhaps, if the 2%, agriculturalists, that built this nation were brought back to the forefront, then the United States would have a little more grit and lot less politics. Think about it; straighter answers would be given, costs versus benefits analysis would become strong decision factors and yes — rock-hard science would win.

Instead, Monday morning we wake up to reality. The hopes were high but once again the build-up was more dramatic than the outcome. The debate ended with few questions answered.

Twitter claims 17 million tweets were sent about the Sunday night debate. Gauging from my twitter stream, those tweets were more about the slow moving train wreck presented before us than the topics voters should be addressing.

Conceivably, if we discuss the issues and stop retweeting the insults and airing them on the daily news then maybe the candidates would too. While I am guilty of getting caught up in the entertainment value of this campaign (but not a Twitter follower or retweeter of Clinton or Trump), it is time to get serious. We cannot control Clinton not wearing the American flag pin or Trump’s sniffing, but we can keep presenting the topics in a chance the politicians would follow the lead. 

3 takeaways from the debate

Still, on a positive note, a few subjects managed to squeak through the cracks. Here is my list of three takeaways from the second presidential debate.

Supreme Court: In February, the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia left a vacancy — yet to be filled — on the U.S. Supreme Court. The selection of Supreme Court justice is a powerful decision. The Supreme Court will make crucial decisions that could dramatically change the way we farm. Given the aging of the current Supreme Court, more appointments are to come.

If the decision is left to Clinton, she will appoint “Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience, and who have not just been in a big law firm.” Also, she states that she believes “the current court has gone in the wrong direction.”

Trump, on the other hand, says he will appoint “judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.” He also thinks it is important to select “people that will respect the Constitution of the United States.”

Energy: When asked about energy policy and the steps to meet the nation’s energy needs, the candidates responded in the following way.

Trump, clearly, states “We are killing — absolutely killing our energy business in this country.”  He says energy is under siege by the Obama administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is killing energy companies, allowing foreign companies to purchase U.S. plants. Moreover, Trump recognizes the need for alternative energy but more than wind and solar. He is an opponent of new technology for clean coal and natural gas.

Clinton acknowledges for the first time the United States is energy-independent, and she will work hard to keep it that way. She states her energy policy is more comprehensive, and it includes fighting climate change. She supports “moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can.”

Considerate ending: The last question of the night and no doubt the most-talked about moment of the debate was the simple questions from an audience member, Karl Becker, “name something you respect about your opponent.”

Clinton — “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.”

Trump — “She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter.”

And on that closing note, once again, agriculture remains in suspense, hanging on for the next round of political rhetoric.

The entire transcript can be found here.

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