Donald Trump and the Future of Napa Valley
As the June election cycle grows closer, I am becoming more and more pessimistic about the chances of rational, science-based arguments saving Napa Valley from taking its first step in rolling back agriculture in the industry, rolling back the economic engine of Napa Valley and rolling back jobs in the Valley. This is the ultimate goal of those who are asking Napa County citizens to approve Measure C. If passed, Measure C would forever prohibit any vineyard planting in areas of the Valley zoned for vineyard planting.
What’s ultimately most interesting about this political battle in Napa Valley over its future is the way in which it mirrors the 2016 election cycle when irrationality ruled the day. Just as the victors in 2016 relied on an anti-science agenda and blaming all the problems we have on “elites”, the proponents of Measure C are doing the same thing. And I fear it will be equally successful in Napa Valley.
By working to prohibit any and all planting of vineyards on any portion of the hillsides in Napa Valley, proponents of Measure C have continuously claimed that the move is necessary to “save the oaks” and “save the watershed”. And yet, they have offered no evidence whatsoever that either the Oaks or the Watershed are in any danger and need to be protected by any measure beyond those that have already made Napa County that with the strongest conservation regulations in California. It’s very reminiscent of the claim that immigration is a national security danger, that a “great, big, beautiful wall” is needed at the border, that taxes need to be slashed for the 1%, that the Environmental Protection Agency is ruining America and that liberals want to take away all guns. All false, but all claimed—just like the Measure C supporters.
Additionally, the longtime claim made by the winners of the 2016 election that “elites” don’t understand the little guy is also an important part of the campaign to pass Measure C. Regular claims that the Napa Valley wine industry is controlled by rich, corporate entities, though false in every respect, have been used to demonize the wine industry in Napa. Claims that the wine industry doesn’t care about the environment, despite the fact that it has been the wine industry that has assured the current outstanding state of the Napa environment, is also a regular claim of the proponents of Measure C.
As we saw in the 2016 election, claims backed up by no facts at all can be very effective. Keep making the claim, offer no evidence for the claims, accuse those presenting facts of offering “fake news” and you just might have a winning argument. This is what we are currently seeing in Napa Valley with Measure C advocates.
Will the same unethical campaign tactics that defined those of the victors in 2016 rule the day in Napa County in June? I certainly have my fears.
There is, however, rational, science-based information available about Measure C: