Farm Belt Tariff Opposition Builds

The GOP is reeling as farm and rust belt opposition to tariffs builds, polling shows trouble ahead8,. yet the Democratic Party remains numb to the opportunity to nurture a progressive wave.

Tune in Today at 8:30am. Retake Our Democracy, the radio show, is moving today, from its slot at 11am to 8:30am on Saturday (today), immediately following Richard Wolff’s 30-minute show. Today’s show was recorded on Thursday in Asheville with Roxanne and I talking about some of the common themes we are finding in our Look, Listen and Learn Road Trip with a focus on the city of Madison, Wisconsin’s remarkable development of worker owned collectives and Nashville’s activism to develop a citywide tenant’s union and the challenges they face from both the local and state governments.

Roxanne & Paul. Community Conversation in Las Cruces, August 14 from 7-9pm at the Southwest Environmental Center, 275 Downtown Mall8, Paul and Roxanne will share what Retake Our Democracy is doing at a state level in preparation for lobbying at the Roundhouse in 2109  and what they have learned on their Road Trip. They also want to want to hear from Las Cruces area activists about the unique challenges and opportunities facing the Las Cruces area. For more information, please contact Paul Gibson at or call Kathy Wooten at  575-644-5350 or

A Restless Midwest Ready for a Progressive Message

Almost one year ago, Retake described how rural America, small farmers and the South were ready for a progressive message and looking for someone to champion their cause. The passage below captures what was conveyed in that post.

Joe Maxwell is a fourth-generation hog farmer and former lieutenant governor of Missouri. In a Nation article, Democrats Can Win Rural Voters If They Take On Big Agriculture, he is quoted as saying: “People know they’re getting screwed, that the system is rigged, that wealth is being extracted from rural communities,” Maxwell said in an interview. “We can bring about economic justice for all.” And Maxwell knows exactly how to achieve economic justice and obtain the support of rural communities. He is a leader of  Family Farm Action an advocacy group working on behalf of farmers. “There is no progressive organization on the political offensive fighting for rural America,”

And this was almost a year before Trump’s senseless initiation of the tariff wars that are wreaking economic havoc in America’s Rust Belt and Farm Belt. Click here to read the full post which provides ample evidence that the Democratic Party is missing a huge opportunity to become that champion.

Two weeks ago, Retake wrote about the potential for significant political fallout for Donald Trump and the GOP in 2018 and 2020 elections. That blog described the long history of farm and worker activism in the Farm Belt and the Rust Belt. It also described how the impact of the tariffs was likely to fall mostly on red states generally and on some swing states crucial to Democratic plans to retake the House and possibly even the Senate. Click here to read Retake’s analysis of the impact of the tariffs on Rust and Farm Belt states.

As the tariff war continues to escalate and that impact is beginning to be felt, Trump seems desperate to stop the bleeding. He is now offering a $12 billion relief package to farmers, seeming to acknowledge the negative impact of the tariff policies, despite only weeks ago indicating that this would be good for farmers. He has told crowds at campaign rallies: “Don’t believe what you are  going well telling crowds to not believe anything other than what he tells them:  “But it’s all working out. And just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening. And I’ll tell you, I have so many people that are so in favor because we have to make our country truly great again.” This kind of wild and unsubstantiated rhetoric played well in the 2016 general election, but there is evidence it is beginning to fall on deaf ears.

NBC News and Marist released new surveys from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan on Thursday. They found Democrats leading by double digits in every Senate and governor’s race in those states. If true, Democrats can feel secure that they will retain three crucial Senate seats — including two in states Donald Trump won in 2016 — while also retaking two governor’s mansions currently held by Republicans in the 2018 midterms. Click here to review the poll results for all of these races.

But as bad as these polling numbers are, there is more bad news coming as Farmers for Free Trade is preparing a multi-million dollar ad campaign. The campaign is going to hammer home how the White House characterized the need for the $12 billion relief bill being due to a “rounding error” in White House calculations related to the impact of the tariff battles. Farmer advocacy groups are not amused at the devastation they are experiencing from the tariffs being referred to as a “rounding error.”

“Agriculture is a giant, and it takes awhile to wake it up, but when it wakes up you better watch out,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, which is organizing the campaign.

Politico reports: “The nonprofit group, which is backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and major commodity groups like the National Pork Producers Council, is investing $2.5 million in the four-month campaign aimed at showcasing how the tariffs are causing pain among U.S. farmers and manufacturers because of Trump’s trade policies.”  The campaign intends to pound home the term “rounding error” and emphasize how Trump is merely throwing money at a problem of his own making. And this from the same constituency that had been a stronghold for his campaign in 2016.

So, when does the light go on for the Democratic Party? When do they realize that Alexandia Ocasio Cortez was not a fluke and that by actually supporting instead of impeding the new wave of progressive Democratic candidates, there is the opportunity for the Party to become that champion for which the heartland is yearning?

Stay tuned.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne



Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use & Wildlife, Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use and Wildlife, Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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1 reply

  1. Centrist Democrats don’t mind losing, they enjoy living high on the hog from corporate donor money. Progressives must battle the inane AND the insane.

    By the way, let’s start calling irrelevant and straw man arguments by name: ARGUMENTATIVE FALLACIES! Point out the truth and educate our fellows all at the same time.

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