Politicians and Cow Manure: Voters Harmed by Corporate Polluters Urge Candidates to Take a Stand

From before the United States even existed, political actors sought to get the narrative upper hand. No less a figure than Paul Revere forged public opinion with this propaganda image about the Boston Massacre. The engraving (a print from which is in the collection of the Concord Museum) helped inflame New Englanders’ sentiments against London’s oppressive policies and helped push the colonies toward separation from England.

Forward to this century, opponents of sensible environmental regulation promote the narrative that it’s is anti-worker. In rural areas, they label candidates who promote management of natural resources as “anti-farmer,” all the while pushing the cost of industrial-scale pollution onto local communities that can ill afford it.

In a blog post for the rural policy organization The Daily Yonder, my colleague David Shorr, a founder of the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus, and I discuss how the Caucus worked to turn that narrative on its head.

Through a listening tour of rural counties impacted by pollution from massive factory farming operations, the Caucus identified concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as an issue that swing voters cared about. Our piece discusses how the Caucus’ campaign videos empowered affected citizens to make the case that corporate polluters needed to be held to account, and how the Caucus worked with candidates to incorporate this pro-farmer message into their campaigns.

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