Here’s a question for our DFLer friends.
Back from the 1890′s through maybe the 1930′s, farming had a radical fringe; the “Granger” and “Prairie Populist” and “Non-Partisan League” movements back in the Dakotas still have their political vestiges.
And the presence of an “F” in “DFL” – “Democrat Farmer Labor” party – is another vestige of an era when farming had a radical element. The “Farmer Labor” party of Floyd Olson and the other softcore socialists of the twenties through the forties was a serious force in Minnesota politics.
But that was eighty years ago. Since then, farmers have been among the most conservative people in our society. The “Red States” are stereotypically (and misleadingly) seen as agrarian, and the conservatism of the ag sector (once you leave out the deeply interventionist farm bills) is legendary.
Here in Minnesota it’s the farming areas of this state that are among the most conservative and Republican. Oh, Collin Peterson is a blue-dog holdover from an era when there wasn’t much to distinguish a Republican and a Democrat in Minnesota, a pro-NRA, nominally pro-life Democrat whose politics are less important than the fact that he has the seniority it takes to deliver the farm-bill pork. And Tim Walz down in the First makes just enough social-conservative noises to keep from alarming the farmers in his district, without unduly alarming his base of power, Austin union members, the Mankato college crowd and Rochester’s new urban-hanger-on set.
But other than the utterly bipartisan pursuit of farm-bill pork, I’ve gotta figure support for the DFL – especially its Twin Cities metrocrat focuses – has got to be very, very low among actual farmers. And it’s for sure that while Labor is a huge constituency in the DFL, I’m at a loss to remember seeing any signs of a “farm” caucus at a DFL convention.
So maybe it’s time for the DFL to change its name in the interest of accuracy?
Maybe to the “Democrat-Oligarch-Labor-Education” party?
I’m here to help.