From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Throw Us a Bone, Dear Moderators!

Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

To date, we’ve witnessed two debates that, theoretically, offered the two candidates running for the office of the President of the United States of America an opportunity to not only present their own viewpoints on carefully chosen topics, but also counter their opponent’s. Like many viewers, I’ve been struck with the numerous instances in which the moderators and candidates have lost control of the conversation. Because so many voters have already made up their minds, naturally, most viewers have seen the questions and responses with some bias. I care about many things, but my biases these days relate to the issues of education and food. To quote Master Yoda: “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”

The third and final Presidential Debate will descend upon us in five days on October 19th from the campus of UNLV. I am not in the least suggesting that the topics covered thus far are less important than the two that I am about to propose should have been given more/some/any credence. In searching for summaries of the questions during the already held debates and the upcoming one, this is what I’ve uncovered:

1st Debate (Hofstra University, September 26th, 2016)

  • Jobs and the economy
  • Trump’s tax returns, Clinton’s emails
  • Race in America
  • Securing America
  • Mutual acceptance

2nd Debate (Washington University, October 9th, 2016)

  • The Trump tape and Clinton’s emails
  • The Affordable Care Act
  • Islamophobia and Syrian refugees
  • Wikileaks and taxes
  • The war in Syria
  • Leadership and “deplorables”
  • The Supreme Court, energy policy, and compliments

3rd Debate (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, October 19th, topics are subject to change)

  • Debt and entitlements
  • Immigration
  • The Economy
  • The Supreme Court
  • Foreign hot spots
  • The candidates’ fitness to be president

It is worth noting that all four debates (including the sole vice-presidential debate from Longwood University, VA) are on the campuses of academic institutions. Do you see the irony in this? Where are the questions about the candidates’ plans for improving the health and prognoses for education policy in the most technologically advanced and powerful county in the world? I’ve been a teacher in this country for 29 years and I believe that there has been a weakening of the collective investment in the knowledge base of America. Children are being told by parents and elders that certain subjects like Mathematics aren’t particularly relevant. And that’s just the beginning of the litany of issues.

We are what we eat. That couldn’t be more germane than it is today. Under the leadership of food advocacy organizations like the Chef Action Network, Food Policy Action, James Beard Foundation Impact Programs, and Seafood Watch, in my role as a chef and academic, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many members of Congress to help make the case for positive changes in the food system of the United States. The most recent one was about keeping school lunches healthy. Who can argue with that? But apparently, political gerrymandering found a way to keep improvements to a minimum at best. By many accounts, matters are getting worse. Many of us would like to see at least some sense of where the presidential candidates stand on the issue of food policy. Not in an obscure interview or quote, but rather, in front of a captive world-wide audience.

Throw us a bone or carrot, dear moderators!

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