Presidential Politics + Food & Farm Justice: Starting with Impeachment….

Posted June 14, 2019

Slightly edited version of a posting made to three major U.S. food-and-farm listservs:
COMFOOD (Tufts Univ.)
Food Policy Networks – FPN (Johns Hopkins Univ.)
Regeneration Midwest (serving 12 states)

4. PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORMS on food-and-farm

1. INTRODUCTION: Food-and-farm justice post-2016 election
In 2017, journalist John Nichols (The Nation; based in Madison, WI) wrote a “Field Guide” to the members of Trump’s cabinet (Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse). Here is the opening sentence of the chapter on the USDA. 

“There is a good argument to be made that Donald Trump, New Yorker from birth and urban to his core, did not even know the United States had a secretary of agriculture when he decided to run for president.”

Nichols continues:
“Though Trump swept farm country in the election of 2016, winning more than 90 percent of the nation’s rural counties, that was not because the Republican presidential nominee offered a coherent program for the renewal of regions that have been battered not just by agribusiness consolidation but by the deindustrialization of small towns and small cities. Trump ran well because the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Farm Security Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and rural electrification forgot how to speak to farm families and voters in small-town America Hillary Clinton did not even show up to campaign in key farm states, while Trump made the trip. There is no evidence to suggest, however, that he paid attention to anything but his own voice.

“So it was that, as the president-elect and his transition team “staffed up,” there was a glaring omission. No one was nominated to head the Department of Agriculture, a sprawling agency with a $155 billion budget and a staff of more than a hundred thousand, in the immediate aftermath of the election. November passed and no one was named. December passed….”

I don’t think I have to copy verbatim the next two paragraphs for these food-and-farm listservs. A day before Trump’s inauguration (Jan. 20), Sonny Perdue, “a career politician” (not a farmer or a food expert) was nominated. But then Trump forgot about the nomination and the position, neglecting to send in the official paperwork to the Senate until the first weeks of March.

“’They don’t seem to have a reason as to why his name hasn’t come up,’ griped Senator Grassley….Vox headlined a March 8 assessment of the mess, ‘The weird mystery of the Trump administration’s agriculture secretary vacancy’….”

Nichols rightly concludes: “There was no mystery. Sonny Perdue was an afterthought….” 

That’s because agriculture was an afterthought to the Trump administration. As is food, as is justice of any kind.

So now, almost 2.5 years into the Trump administration, is there anyone on these listservs that think this group of rich people are going to do anything positive for food-and-farm justice?  Have they done anything positive?  Did I miss something?

More to the point of this email, here are three developments and other information on the presidential politics front that may be of interest to folks working on “food, farms, and democracy”:

2. Beginning an IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: Actions anyone can take
a. June 15 or 16: Attend a grassroots #ImpeachTrumpNow rally (or schedule your own)
Map of 141 events (and counting)

b. Follow on Twitter (you don’t have to have a Twitter account)
By The People (most active grassroots group)
The Impeachment Project legal reasons for impeachment

c. Official resolution — H.Res.257
Ask your U.S. Congressperson (member of House of Representatives) to co-sponsor House Resolution 257.
“Inquiring whether the House of Reps. should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America”

Currently 13 co-sponsors:
Rep. Rashida Tlaib  D MI 13
Rep. Green, Al [D-TX-9]*
Rep. Pressley, Ayanna [D-MA-7]
Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5]
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria [D-NY-14]
Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
Rep. Vela, Filemon [D-TX-34]
Rep. Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR-3]
Rep. DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1]
Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
Rep. Thompson, Bennie G. [D-MS-2]
Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
Rep. Fudge, Marcia D-OH 11

Approx. 40+ other MOCs have called for impeachment proceedings, including one Republican (Justin Amash – MI) but they have not signed onto the resolution yet.

d.  QUESTION: Have any food-and-farm groups — e.g., Food Policy Councils — officially called for impeachment?  I’d be happy to promote any group’s action.

Seeking input
Liz Henderson (New York farmer & activist) and others have been collecting “questions about food & agriculture for presidential candidates”.

I believe she’s still taking suggestions:

4. PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORMS on food-and-farm
26 candidates listed (24 Dems, 2 Repubs) on Civil Eats
Where the 2020 presidential candidates stand on food-and-farming

I have no specific information on any plans to highlight food-and-farm justice in any debates. Here’s what I do know.

a. First Democratic debate is June 26.

b. No climate crisis debate? Complain to Democratic legislators, party officials
Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently announced that there will be no stand-alone debate on climate. Many climate activists think this is big mistake, given the short time frame we have to reduce emissions and sequester carbon (and given that previous debates did not ask any climate questions). I haven’t heard of any concerted effort to change this, but it’s always good to voice your opinion.

Mark Charles
As of June 1, we now have another candidate for president, running as an independent.  Mark Charles, of Navajo-Dutch ancestry, is running on a platform starting with a national “truth & conciliation” process on “race, gender, and class”.  His campaign video explains why.  I found it very inspiring and similar to my own proposals to re-write the U.S. Constitution so that we can all be involved.

So far he has no specific food-and-farm messaging (apart from sovereign lands and the question of land ownership). Someone to watch, I believe.

— “truth & conciliation committee”  #TCC2021
— Not just “We the People” but  #AllThePeople
Excellent background article by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (June 2, 2019 for Indian Country)

Letter to Editor: To Move Forward, Impeach Trump

Published in Evanston Roundtable
May 30, 2019 print edition, page 8
(slightly edited for readability)

One of the best reasons for impeachment is expressed in this recent question Tweeted by Thea Riofrancos, a political science professor: “Need to feel wiser, & more committed to the world-making task of battling climate change & capitalist domination, & building democracy, w deep respect for our ancestors’ struggles & the generations to come?”

Riofrancos was not talking about impeachment. But she was recommending a magazine excerpt of Astra Taylor’s new book on democracy (Democracy may not Exist. But we’ll miss it when it’s Gone). Impeaching Donald Trump is the step-by-step roadmap to real democracy, the aerobics-and-yoga plan for getting our self-governing muscles moving again, synchronized with each other.

In order to move forward on health care, voting rights, restorative justice, education equity, immigrant rights, housing for all, as well as food, water, and air for the future, we Americans need to take control of the country’s constitutional consciousness. Individually, we need to embody that consciousness and constitutional authority as our birthright. Then, as impeachment proceedings unfold, we need to learn how to work collectively to frame and name the real democracy that we want—but never actually had under the U.S. Constitution (but did actually exist on this land under the Great Law of Peace).

The core technical reasons for an impeachment process are to:
–signal to the world that we are questioning Trump’s authority;
–unite the country’s attention during Congressional hearings;
–methodically unpack facts in real time, not only the Mueller report but all the other reasons for impeachment;
–distract the President and cohorts from further unconstitutional acts and atrocities;
–confirm to each other that We the People are the sovereign authority in the U.S.

The constitutional authority to start the impeachment inquiry rests with the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. As most Roundtable readers know, Evanston resident Jan Schakowsky is our Congresswoman, representing the Ninth Illinois District (which includes other suburbs and parts of Chicago). She is the one who is accountable directly to us—the voters of the Ninth District—as to whether Donald Trump is impeached or not.

To move impeachment forward as quickly as possible, Evanston residents and voters can:
–sign the national petition (10,000,000 and counting);
–call Cong. Schakowsky’s office to ask her to co-sponsor House Resolution 257 (“Inquiring whether the House of Representatives should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America”);
–request an alderperson to champion a City of Evanston resolution to support impeachment;
–request other elected officials in other jurisdictions (Cook County, MWRD, State of Illinois) to do the same.

Andrea Chalupa, a journalist (Gaslit Nation podcast) says, “Democracy is a lifestyle.” I would add that real democracy is adults experiencing the joy of working together for the benefit of all, according to rules to which we all agree. Even in a time of existential crisis such as now, I can confirm that there is indeed joy in that experience. Let’s impeach, re-examine the rules, and then move forward.

Latest news on impeachment: actions, supporters, articles, etc.
ByThePeople Twitter
The Impeachment Project 

House Resolution 257 
Official resolution page: Read text, see co-sponsors, latest actions