My response to Dakota War College's derision of Dakota Rural Action as a "liberal" activist group drew a predictable dodge in which Mr. Powers said he should call DRA "a lot worse" for opposing corporate farms and criticizing John Thune. In the Newspeak of GOP spin, a group fighting overreaching corporate power becomes "anti-consumer."
Don't lose sight of the the original argument, which DWC diligently and necessarily ignores: promoting local food and individual self-sufficiency through advocacy of sensible urban poultry policy is liberal, but in the classical sense of the word: promoting more liberty for more people. That's the shared goal of liberals and conservatives alike. That's why Dakota Rural Action has people of different political stripes as members; that's why DRA is helping farmers and ranchers raise their voices against the private-property and environmental predations of the Keystone XL pipeline, regardless of party affiliation.
Let's look at some other Dakota Rural Action actions through the lens of liberty:
Home-Processed Foods Law: Before 2010, it was flat illegal for South Dakotans to sell home-processed foods. DRA worked with the state health department and extension service to craft and pass legislation allowing South Dakotans to bake and can and pickle their food and make money selling the fruits of their labors. That gives producers and consumers (more market choices!) more economic liberty.
New Farmers: DRA supports a Farmer Network and a Farm Beginnings program to share knowledge and help folks enter the ag marketplace as producers. Helping more entrepreneurs gain the skills and resources they need to compete against much larger, well-financed market players expands economic opportunities and, through competition, expands consumer liberty.
Community Energy: DRA promotes small-scale individual and community-based energy projects. It shares information about South Dakotans who have used their know-how to make their own energy. DRA promotes energy efficiency so South Dakotans spend less money on their electricity bills and have more money to spend on other things they like. DRA promotes renewable energy because it provides South Dakotans with opportunities to expand their energy independence and economic opportunities. If independence and economic opportunity aren't a liberty agenda, I don't know what is.
Keystone XL: Dakota Rural Action has not gone as far as other organizations in opposing TransCanada's expansion of its tar sands transportation system. DRA has focused on fighting for landowners to receive fair, respectful treatment from this powerful foreign corporation. Saying that a corporation should not have all the power and that South Dakotans should enjoy the right to organize and negotiate from a position of strength with a company that wants to seize their land and imperil their lives and livelihoods with a large industrial project is not a nefarious plot; it's vigilant protection of South Dakotans' liberty to which neither Pat Powers, the SDGOP, or any Republican elected official has given so much as lip service.
Dakota War College's dismissal of Dakota Rural Action shows the deep roots of the trickle-down fallacy in partisan GOP thinking. Put corporations first, he cries, and landowners and consumers will see magical benefits accrue. Ignore those "liberals," he cries.... even when those "liberals" are fighting to protect your practical liberty.
Dakota Rural Action doesn't care what party you belong to or what label you apply to your ideology. They want you and all South Dakotans to enjoy your liberty in a sustainable rural economy.