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When you lie to farmers, someone will ‘Give ‘em Hell’

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018 -- (Long Beach, CA) -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood that farmers can tell who’s telling the truth.

    In 1932, the rich man from New York promised a “New Deal,” to help save ordinary Americans from the collapse of our economy. People starved in cities as crops rotted, and the rich repossessed farms.

    When Mr. Roosevelt took office, he kept his promise, and abandoned the rich who he grew up with.

    It was a farmer named Henry Wallace -- who had created a miraculous sprain of corn -- who led the Progressive wing of the New Deal, as FDR’s closest ally.

    The new Secretary of Agriculture helped FDR save farming itself, and rise the quality of life in rural America.

    The Roosevelt Administration kept its word to rescue ordinary Americas.

  • ELECTRICITY. When he took office, about five percent of rural America had power. The creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the delivery elsewhere changed farms forever, because they could have lights and radios and stoves and refrigerators.

  • CROPS. The ‘corn man’ understood better than any Ag Secretary how to invent new strains and promote the rescue of seeds and soil. The delivery of crops by train and truck meant that sales grew and products were available to people in cities.

  • DUST. The focus by Roosevelt and Wallace to rescue the Mid West from a drought and to lay trees as a blocking of the winds greatly reduced what was known as a Dust Bowl ripping across America.

  • WATER. God’s greatest gift is the universal solvent. It cannot be created, nor lived without. Moving water across the land lets crops themselves grow, from the massive water project of the California’s Great Central Valley and beyond the rivers and lakes defined by dams.

  • SOIL. Stopping dust is only the start to saving God’s second greatest gift, of the soil from which all else rises. Mr. Roosevelt and his Ag Secretary did everything possible to save a vanishing top soil.

    Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace led Progressives with such vigor that FDR selected him him for Vice President, in the 1940 election, and got squeezed out as VP so that a moderate -- Harry Truman -- would be the replacement.

    The April 1945 death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent the super-rich into battle against FDR’s New Deal. Henry Wallace was gone. Harry Truman was beaten by GOP victory in the Off-Year election.

    Greatness is not given, but earned. Historians consider Mr. Roosevelt to be only the third president who can be called great. (George Washington started the country and Mr. Lincoln saved the Union.) No one else had done more, and farmers knew he told the truth.

    Republicans who took power in Congress abandoned farmers, and a series of new laws pushed back government’s support for ordinary Americans. Harry Truman could only watch as the GOP overrode vetoes, so the rich could get richer.

    In 1948, no one thought Harry Truman could win.

    Republicans nominated a rich New Yorker who said nothing except meaningless words.

    But Democrats were torn between the Left, Center and Right.

    On one side, Henry Wallace ran as the Progressive, and thousands showed up wherever he went, but he said little about farming. On the other, pure hatred spit up a nominee of what got called the Dixeycrats, because Harry Truman took middle positions that included civil rights.

    The babbling rich man seemed certain for victory. The Progressives and hate-spitters pulled each side away from Harry Truman’s base of support.

    Who would ordinary Americans vote for? It wouldn’t be the rich. They didn’t care. The Progressive was locked on urban policy. And the Dixeycrat spewed hatred as his primary goal.

    And then there was Harry. He told the truth, and it drove the Republicans crazy. When he spoke from the back of a train, farmers cheered while Harry told them about horrible laws against rural America that the GOP jammed through. “I’m just giving ‘em the truth,” said the President, to which the cheering rose and rural American said, “Give ‘em Hell, Harry.”

    So now we have another rich man from New York, who again is jamming through laws that steal from the poor to feed Fat Cats at the golden trough.

    What does this new president tell farmers?

    It ain’t the truth.

    After pushing through the biggest tax cut in a century, Donald Trum appeared before farmers and told them how rich they’d get, but his numbers are not the truth. Think what one will about the President, but there is only one truth... that which is true.

    Why not see what the biggest newspaper in America says?

    Again, say what one will about the President, but if his belief is that he can lie and get away with it, then Harry Truman may be smiling from his grave.

    Let us hope that the rich New Yorker who flies for golf weekends will learn from Roosevelt and Truman that farmers can tell when the truth rises through weeds.


-- Billy Orton.

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Billy Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.