How do you manage the political reality in Washington? How do you translate the vision for this movement with what is actually feasible in the policy-making realm?
I’ve been thinking about this in terms of what happened on health care. They didn’t take out industry, they preserved the role and profitability of the big insurance companies. At the same time, we’ve been led to believe that they are going to provide affordable insurance to 30 million uninsured people. It remains to be seen, but on paper at least they achieved this policy goal and did it without breaking the bank, and overcame incredible opposition. So what would such a thing look like in food policy? The political realists won the day. What could we achieve that would be like that in the realm of food policy?
But that’s got to be the next big battle on the food front, right? To begin to change the policies?
Yes, and I think the 2012 farm bill is going to be really interesting. The movement got so galvanized in 2008 and achieved only marginal gains in that bill. But we need a broader agenda than just “cut farm subsidies.” That’s the one that resonates with people, but it doesn’t solve the bigger problem. We need investments in infrastructure and different incentives for farmers.
The kinds of things that you’re talking about will draw the same charges of socialism that were leveled at Obama’s health care plan.
That’s right, and actually the farm subsidies become useful in my response. You’re calling me a socialist because I want public investment in infrastructure, but you’re not complaining that we have between $12 billion and $25 billion to put into subsidies each year. How is that not socialism? It’s big government taking people’s tax dollars and redistributing them.