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Farmers to deal with tough road aheadFarmers to deal with tough road ahead

Another Voice: This next presidential election, which has already started, will bring some contentious issues to farmers.

Willie Vogt

April 11, 2019

3 Min Read
graphic of U.S. flag and 2020 election sign
ALREADY? The presidential campaign is in full swing, with the rhetoric already a challenge for agriculture.JimVallee/Getty Images

I really can’t believe I’m writing about the 2020 presidential election already. I figured later this year — and for sure, after the Iowa primaries, maybe — but now? Already, the declared list of candidates has grown longer than a convict’s rap sheet (nothing implied here).

And the rhetoric that’s flying around related to food is a little disconcerting for anyone in agriculture. The proposed Green New Deal program, which someone told me was DOA in Congress, is frankly not going away. Most of the Democratic candidates have signed on in support of the principles of this vast plan created by a freshman Congresswoman. It’s easy to poke holes in the thing. A 10-year plan that includes eliminating meat consumption is fantasy at best.

However, we need to step back and get ready for the real conversation. Candidates are starting to push other agenda items that are frankly much more disconcerting. Here are a couple concerns I have — and I’m more moderate than many of you, dear readers. There will be more, I’m sure.

Breaking up big companies. This one is a concern because unwinding what’s done is no easy task. In addition, these deals were started in one administration and finished in the current one, across party lines. It’s a false worry to start talking about “breaking things up,” but that’s on the agenda of a few. In addition, some (not naming names) are talking about breaking up Google or Facebook as being too powerful. Are they ignoring the fact that many would be unknowns without either of those social media sites?

I’m an armchair economist, and my observation over the last few decades is that economics always wins. We busted up AT&T in the early 1980s, and are we better off? Hard to say, given the rising advent of cellular phones at about the same time that changed the conversation about calls; the number of consumers with wireline phones is falling rapidly. Technology can do more to unwind something than politics. And note: One of the biggest cellular companies is AT&T, but it’s faced by constant competition from Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Preventing a merger is one thing; busting something up later is a different matter.

Ending the Electoral College. This is an idea from one candidate that gains steam from time to time. President Trump figured out the value of the Electoral College, and as a republic, the system works. I’m more concerned about this kind of talk, because ending the Electoral College is really about firing up a constitutional convention. Sure, they could go the amendment route, but this left-leaning crowd is pushing pretty hard for faster results — and a convention would do that.

Remember, a constitutional convention puts everything on the table. It’s a disconcerting thought that in this time of political rancor, we might remake the entire country in a constitutional convention.

I realize that may sound like fear-mongering, and that’s not the intent. But before we move to start busting up the Constitution or companies or an entire industry, we should all get our facts straight.

There will be more to discuss in future columns. But as you hear the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, keep in mind they work for us. We need to read up.

Check out sources we don’t always agree with on a range of topics, so you get a broader perspective. And we need to remember, an educated electorate is a lot more difficult to bamboozle with “new” ideas.

Send comments, insights, your ideas on this upcoming election, to me at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Executive Director, Content and User Engagement, Farm Progress

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