That debate made me sad

Ed Desk Blog

By: Cody Boteler, Editor-in-Chief

My heart broke when I watched the presidential debate Sunday night. There were a few things that got to me, and I won’t waste any time getting to them.

Thing one—it took about a third of the total debate time for either candidate to being seriously discussing a policy issue. Instead, the entire national (and international) audience was subjected to bickering about past transgressions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Anderson Cooper pressed Donald Trump on sexual assault. I’m glad Hillary Clinton is being held accountable for things. But I’m not at all happy that we’re having these discussions during presidential debates, when candidates should be discussing policy.

Thing two—Trump said that if he were in charge, Hillary Clinton would be in jail. I don’t know if anyone’s ever explained it to Trump, but it’s a fundamental tenet of democracy that when you win an election, you don’t throw your opponents in jail. That’s the talk of despots and dictators.

Thing three—we’re still, still not taking climate change seriously as an issue. I’m going to keep saying it: The only existential threat to humanity that we have any control over is global climate change.

Yes, there are other threats. Nuclear war could kill millions if not billions of people, but I sincerely believe that humanity is better than that. We’re too selfish to destroy ourselves. A giant rock in space could smash Earth to bits, but we can’t do anything about that.

A changing climate will alter the planet dramatically. Weather patterns will change. And, if you think we have a refugee problem now, just wait until entire countries are underwater. We’ll have to rethink the way we grow food, the way we handle mass populations moving and the way we generate energy.

If we don’t start acting right now to mitigate further damage from climate change and start preparing for the changes that are already happening and coming our way, our society faces collapse—or at least violent transformation.

Thank God for you, Kenneth Bone, for at least tangentially bringing up energy and the environment. Shame on you, Donald Trump, for perpetuating the myth of “clean coal.”

Coal Country, I love you. I have fought for you and will fight for you in the future. But we’ve got to stop burning coal. We’ve got to stop burning things for energy. It’s suffocating our planet.

I don’t know what else there is I can say about this election. It’s like I’ve run out of things to think and feel. I’m more ashamed by what’s happened this cycle than I thought I could be as an American voter.

I hope that the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential elections bring back some sense of civility. Some sense of decorum. And some sense of pride in being a citizen of the United States.

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