Rally for the Farmers! Willie Nelson and the late 20th century populist movement

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Baconheimer, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. Threadmarks: Foundations: 1985-1986

    Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    Recently, I've begun work on a new TL. Unlike past timelines, I have quite a bit written so far and hope that I can get fairly far into this world.

    I admit the idea is fairly improbable, but I hope it is interesting. A lot of credit goes to @Gonzo and @Oppo whose excellent timelines have inspired me.

    EDIT: Also @MaskedPickle whose 'Giant Sucking Sound' TL with its rise of a Freedom Party.


    '15,000 Farmers Angrily Protest Reagan Policies'

    'Lange, Spacek, Fonda: 3 Hollywood Actresses Relate Farmers' Plight'

    - Los Angeles Times Headlines, early 1985 *

    "I hope that some of the money that's raised for the people in Africa, maybe they could just take a little bit of it, maybe … one or two million … to pay the mortgages on some of the farms,"
    - Bob Dylan at Live Aid, July 13th 1985 **

    ‘Concert to Benefit Farmers to be Held in Chicago - Dylan, Young, Mellencamp, Nelson to Perform’
    - The New York Times, August 10th 1985

    "They're calling for heavy rain today John.

    Bad? Do you think we oughta cancel it?

    Not a chance! It's what we've been working towards - this show must go on."
    - Conversation between Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp at the Silversmith Hotel Chicago, September 22nd 1985

    'Farm Aid a Massive Success - Dylan, Mellencamp, Nelson, Young perform to rain-drenched crowd of 78,000'
    - New York Times, September 23rd 1985

    "Well sure I'm happy, we made a whole lot of money and it'll do some real good.


    I guess I'm not totally happy with this thing, a little more rain coulda shut us down and you know where that'd put us.


    Yeah, well maybe we've got to fight a little harder. What if we did more than donate money?"
    - Phone Conversation between Willie Nelson and Neil Young, September 29th 1985

    'Willie Nelson announces run for Governor - Famed Country Singer Pledges to Fight for Farmers'
    - Chattanooga Times Free Press, January 12th 1986

    'Nelson Calls for Debate With Tenn. Democratic Opponents'
    - The New York Times, April 9th 1986

    "I'm not in this life for power, just look at my past. I like to make music, which is why I've spent the last while doing what I've done - I must've traveled every road in this country and seen most everything there is to see. We've got a great land here, a bit of everything, but what I really noticed everywhere I went is people struggling. On every farm from California to North Carolina I saw people sad and poor. It didn't used to be this way and I aim to bring it back to how it was for the common man.'
    - Excerpt from a campaign speech by Willie Nelson, Murfreesboro, April 29th 1986

    'Dem Candidates Trade Shots at Debate in Nashville - Nelson Claims Opponents Have "Lost Their Way"'
    - Daily Herald (Columbia, TN), May 12th 1986

    Fulton - 38.78%
    Nelson - 37.91%
    Eskind - 21.73%
    Jacox - 0.93%
    Crichton - 0.65%
    - Results of the Tennessee Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, August 7th 1986

    'Y'know, y'all fought a good fight. I'd hoped the message of reclaiming America for the common man would have more appeal, but it seems like we'll have to wait a little longer. I'll talk to Mayor Fulton later this week and hopefully we can come to some sort of understanding...'
    - Singer Willie Nelson at a concession speech in Nashville TN, August 8th 1986

    "It looks like Pat Buchanan is running for President next year. I'd sure like to take a stab it going for it, but with both of us in the running we'd just split support in half. Well, we've always got 1992..."
    - Evangelist Pat Robertson to his wife, Adelia, August 25th 1986

    '...and it's a good thing Willie Nelson didn't take the nomination for Governor. Sure, he has some decent music, but we don't need a brainless, druggie representing Tennessee on the national stage. Can you imagine what they'd say when he...'
    - Freshman Senator Albert Gore Jr., overheard at a Washington DC bar, September 5th 1986

    'Sen. Gore torches Willie Nelson - Singer Fires Back Saying has a Legitimate Platform'
    - Washington Post, September 8th 1986

    "I'm sick and tired of being disrespected by those Washington eggheads, I've got to do something about it or we’ll never have people that represent us."
    - Willie Nelson to his wife Connie, September 25th 1986

    Democratic: 52 (+7)
    Republican: 48 (-7)
    - United States Senate Election Results, November 4th 1986

    Democratic: 258 (+5)
    Republican: 177 (-5)
    - United States House of Representatives Results, November 4th 1986

    * - As OTL
    ** - As OTL, taken from a Time article.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  2. Carl Schwamberger Kicked

    Dec 14, 2012
    My family was still closely involved in farming then. It will be interesting to contrast perspectives on the events then.
  3. Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    I'm afraid there won't be too much focus on farming itself if that's what you're getting at. I am not nearly knowledgeable enough to go in-depth on that subject.
  4. Carl Schwamberger Kicked

    Dec 14, 2012
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  5. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    As I've been telling people, Willie's supporting Beto is the least surprising thing about him, given his politics...

    In honor of this thread, here's my favorite Willie song:
  6. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

    Jan 15, 2004
    The Chaos TL
    I once saw a photo from these times, of a farmer on his tractor with a protest sign "Crime doesn't pay! Neither does farming!"
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  7. markus meecham Marxism-Leninism-Bricksquad thought Banned

    Mar 6, 2018
    Weed farming could definitely help some small farmers lmao

    I wonder how the middle western terroir would be like.
    Dorozhand and Baconheimer like this.
  8. Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    I mean that I intend this as a political TL, so that’s the primary focus.

    Oh, right. I should’ve mentioned that the fact he’s been in the news a bit lately is one of the inspirations.

    Thanks for saying that. I think I’ll try to use that phrase.

    The status of marijuana will be considered in my work on this TL. And an interesting thought - I’ll certainly have to look into whether or not it would even catch on on a large scale nationwide.
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  9. markus meecham Marxism-Leninism-Bricksquad thought Banned

    Mar 6, 2018
    I have no idea of what his political beliefs are, but the way he wants weed to be legalized (as in regulations on production, sale or sharing) will probably be based on those.
    Does anyone have a good link on his political alignment?
  10. baldipaul Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    William Webb Ellis Land
    I think he’d be interesting to see campaigning but I don’t think the eighties would be ready for him, the war on drugs was really in full swing.

    I think his economic policies would be soft centre left, with a smattering of libertarian social policies but I don’t know what his views on abortion would be. Probably try to improve race relations in America.

    Foreign policy not a clue.
  11. Wolfram Fair to middlin'

    Dec 5, 2010
    University of Houston, Houston, Texas
    As a Willie Nelson fan I'm looking forward to this. As a Texan, though, I'm outraged at the notion that he wouldn't run here.
    Oppo, markus meecham and Max Sinister like this.
  12. Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    To be honest, that was my plan, but when couldn't I find a Texas race I thought would work for 1986, so I decided on Tennessee.
    New Cleo Genesis likes this.
  13. Wolfram Fair to middlin'

    Dec 5, 2010
    University of Houston, Houston, Texas
    Maybe he could have run against Joe Barton in his hometown House district or something.

    (Look, the man had a whole album about how Texas is the greatest state! Maybe if he hadn't specifically denigrated Tennessee in that album, he might've won the primary there.)
    Kome and markus meecham like this.
  14. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    As this timeline continues it might intersect:

    1) The 1990 Savings & Loans crisis which no one seems to remember. Heck, there aren’t even S&L’s around anymore.

    2) The 1991 recession which was 2/3’s blue collar, but because it was 1/3 white collar which was higher than the previous norm, was called a “white collar recession,”

    3) And that the awful corporate trend of “downsizing” continued even after this recession.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=2...v=onepage&q=1991 recession downsizing&f=false
    I mean, shit, it even sounds like an awful corporate term, doesn’t it!

    And some or all of this may lead to some interesting alliances, but perhaps only partial alliances which tend to have rather definite beginnings, middles, and ends.
    Max Sinister and markus meecham like this.
  15. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014

    A Farm Aid event from Sept. 2017


    But here's the hard part politically, doing more to help family farmers probably means more taxes for the rest of us. Including when the money is not spent perfectly which is realistically part of life. And even if you and I are in favor of it, many of our fellow citizens are not
  16. Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    My understanding is that he is a fairly generic liberal on many issues, though with some conspiracy theorism. It's hard to find something concrete as most articles on his views seem to be single-issue. Regarding weed, I'm thinking he's more generally saying he wants it legalized, but not going especially in-depth. It's the 80s, after all.

    The thing is, Willie Nelson is not exactly campaigning with a coherent platform. A lot of little platitudes and statements like "support the farmers", but not too many policy proposals. Partly because Nelson himself is running a protest campaign, and knows he's not going to win.

    To be honest, that might have been a better and more plausible start. The Tennessee campaign really is not going to be that relevant in later updates.

    I'd like to touch on these issues, but the primary issue is that I'm not especially knowledgeable on finance, especially in coming up with hypothetical policy proposals, so I'll likely be somewhat vague.

    Agreed. That's the part of the RftF platform they'd like to keep hidden, and which their opponents like to attack them on.
    markus meecham likes this.
  17. Threadmarks: Step by Step: 1987

    Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    'As the days count down until the next Presidential election, nearly a dozen Democrats are jockeying for position going into the primaries. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who received third place in the 1984 primaries is set to be the early favorite, as national polls show him with a decisive lead. If Mr. Jackson is able to hold the high level of support he currently has among middle class Southern and Western farmers, he will surely have a good chance of taking the Democratic nomination and perhaps the Presidency.'
    - The New York Times, January 28th 1987

    'Farmers to Testify Before Congress - Family Farms Bankrupt at Unprecedented Rates'
    - Washington Post, February 5th 1987

    "...this is the greatest issue facing our generation. The American heartland cannot survive without farming. At this rate, our grandchildren will be forced out of the land of their forefathers."
    - Larry Kallem, President of Practical Farmers of Iowa testifies before Congress, February 24th 1987

    "And what do you reckon'll come of all this.

    Jack shit. That's all they ever do up here."
    - Two unidentified farmers, overheard at the exit to the United States Capitol, February 24th 1987

    "If you go along with this you're gonna be burning all your bridges, Willie. Is that something you're willing to do?

    Someone's got to, and I guess it'll be me."
    - Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Kansas City, March 17th 1987

    ‘Hart to Try Again’
    - Houston Chronicle, April 9th 1987

    'Dole Announces Second Run For Presidency'
    - The Washington Post, April 20th 1987

    "Someone's got to stand for the farmers, and as I look around, no one is taking that job, so I guess it's me. I am forming a new political party, which we'll call Rally for the Farmers to show our commitment to simple folks. Setting up a political party is a hard task, of course, so I don't intend to have candidates all the time, and I've got no problem with endorsing worthy Democrats and Republicans."
    - Willie Nelson in Houston, May 22nd 1987

    "I hereby announce my intention to seek the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1988. We need to take America back from those who seek to turn it into a Soviet satellite state and dictate our lives from Capitol Hill!"
    - Former White House Communications Director Pat Buchanan, May 27th 1987

    "Of course I'm running! What do you think I'm doing here?"
    - Representative Jack Kemp in a bizarre interview in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 1st 1987

    'Haig: I am Not Running For President'
    - New York Times, June 2nd 1987

    "Lee, I'd like you to look into Jesse Jackson. If I go up against him next November, I'd sure feel a lot better knowing he isn't squeaky clean."
    - Vice President George Bush to Lee Atwater, June 14th 1987

    "Let's make a better America, together!"
    - New Mexico Senator Pete Dominici announcing his run for the Presidency, June 23rd 1987

    'Penny to Leave Democrats, Join Rally For the Farmers'
    - Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin, July 2nd 1987

    ‘Ar. Governor Clinton Will Run for President - Announces Support for “New Order of Things”’
    - Boston Globe, July 9th 1987

    'Rally For the Farmers Announce Endorsement of Sturdivant for Governor'
    - Jackson (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger, July 19th 1987

    "I am here today to announce that I will be running for Governor of the Commonwealth of Missouri. While I identify myself with the aims of Willie Nelson and the Rally for the Farmers Party, because of undemocratic ballot access laws in this state, I am unable to be listed as a member of that party, so I will run as an independent. However, know that I am endorsed by Willie Nelson and the farmers of America!"
    - Gatewood Galbraith at a speech in Lexington KY, July 25th 1987

    "You know, I like Jesse Jackson."
    - Willie Nelson, August 2nd 1987

    'Businessman Sturdivant wins Miss. Democratic Primary - Endorsed for Governor by Willie Nelson'
    - New York Times, August 4th 1987

    "It's great to be back in Louisiana - I sure do love this state - 'course I could do with a little less heat right about now. I hope you'll vote for Jim, he'll fight for the common man and won't be a sellout to big companies like..."
    - Willie Nelson, stumping for Democratic candidate for Governor James Brown Jr., September 5th 1987

    ‘Moynihan Announces Bid For Democratic Nomination’
    - New York Times, September 14th 1987

    “No more will your lives be dictated from corporate boardrooms! The day of the hegemony of the executive is drawing to a close, and the time for prosperity and equality is on the horizon.”
    - Reverend Jesse Jackson announces his candidacy for President outside the Ford Lorain Assembly Plant, Lorain Ohio, October 10th 1987

    “And how do you intend to provide money for family farms?

    Look, the state of Mississippi makes a whole lot of money. We can find a little bit to give out to those in need. And besides, I’d much rather give a little bit more to people that need it than keep it in the treasury for a few people that are already rich to ogle at. {UPROARIOUS APPLAUSE}”
    - An exchange between businessmen Jack Reed (R) and Mike Sturdivant (D) at the Mississippi Gubernatorial Debate, October 11th 1987

    "I'm running for President."
    - Vice President George Bush, October 15th 1987


    "While Nelson-supported candidates for the Governorship in Kentucky, and Mississippi are garnering significant support, the new Rally for the Farmers Party has experienced a surge in interest in downballot state legislative and local races. In Virginia, where the State Senate and House of Delegates are up for election this year pro-Nelson candidates are attracting significant support. In Louisa County..."
    - John Chancellor, NBC Nightly News, October 29th 1987

    ‘Edwards Withdraws From Second Round - Endorses Tauzin for “Party Unity”’
    - Times-Picayune, November 2nd 1987


    "We fought a good fight here. We gave the Democrats and Republicans a run for their money, but unfortunately it just wasn't enough. But never doubt for one moment that I'll stop fighting!"
    - Gatewood Galbraith's concession speech, November 4th 1987

    "Sure, I'm a bit disappointed by what happened in Kentucky and Louisiana, but look at what happened in Mississippi - Mike Sturdivant got more votes than any Democrat since 1979. I don't mean to brag, but this is what it looks like when the people get behind a candidate. Gatewood and Jim both did pretty well and, who knows, in a coupla years we could have Rally Party Governors there."
    - Willie Nelson, November 5th 1987

    Jesse Jackson - 26%
    Gary Hart - 18%
    Daniel Patrick Moynihan - 15%
    Bill Clinton - 11%
    Lloyd Bentsen - 8%
    Al Gore - 4%
    Paul Simon - 3%
    Joe Biden - 2%
    Other/Undecided - 13%
    - Polling for the Democratic nomination, mid-November 1987

    Thanks to @Gonzo for these wonderful infoboxes. While this TL gets a bit implausible right around here, hopefully it's still enjoyable.
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  18. Gerbbro Political Anomie

    Dec 22, 2015
    Tennessee, America
    Go Jackson!
    Leon Trotsky, gap80 and Baconheimer like this.
  19. Admiral Halsey Best damn Admiral in US history Banned

    May 27, 2014
    Damnit just once I want Gatewood to win the governors mansion. He's a Kentucky legend and should've won at least once.
    gap80 likes this.
  20. Baconheimer Berserker of Chaos

    Mar 28, 2011
    Former Confederate Republic of Virginia (FCROV)
    Hey, he’s only 41 in 1987. He has plenty of time left for campaigning.
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