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No. 682: Raw and Uncut
Photo by Angelina Litvin / Unsplash

No. 682: Raw and Uncut

📅 Today, Davis talks about raw milk and attitudes toward health, and Megan breaks down why Mayor O'Connell is so adamant about pushing his transit referendum right now.

Good afternoon, everyone.

This morning, a great article in Politico by Marc Novicoff dug into how the Republican Party has slowly wrenched the health platform away from Democrats. Just ten years ago, you could safely assume that if someone talked about organic food and expressed skepticism about vaccines, they probably voted Democrat.

Even the supposed "anti-vax" sentiments unquestioningly associated with the right today originated within the Democratic Party, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. being the prototype of the health-conscious Democrat. Interestingly, RFK Jr. has more support from Republicans than Democrats heading into the 2024 presidential election.

This change has been especially pronounced since Covid emerged in Spring 2020, as skepticism towards established institutions grew on the right and the left fell into the loving arms of the pharmaceutical overlords they'd spent so long demonizing. I don't think we've come close to reckoning how consequential this shift is.

Novicoff's article, titled 'How Raw Milk Went from a Whole Foods Staple to a Conservative Signal', analyzes this by taking a close look at raw milk, as well as the various political factions advocating for both the deregulation of dairy farmers and the sale of an until-recently banned American staple.

He describes two factors that contributed to the conservative adoption of raw milk:

First, liberal elites gave up on it. Iowa Democrats overwhelmingly voted against the raw milk bill; it no longer gets sympathetic coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, Grist or The Nation. Whole Foods no longer sells it (although Erewhon now does), and perhaps fittingly, Whole Foods is now owned by Amazon, the trillion-dollar retailer whose employees donated overwhelmingly to Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Covid is sure to have played a role here, the era where many liberals internalized that trusting the experts distinguished them from Trump and those they considered anti-science (or worse, anti-vax). One study found that whether a school planned to reopen in the fall of 2020 was much more related to its county’s support for Trump in 2016 than it was to local Covid numbers.
At the same time, conservatives discovered that raw milk fit neatly inside a worldview that was increasingly skeptical of credentialed expertise. Though in some ways, it had always been a natural fit. As conservative writer Rod Dreher put it in a 2002 essay called “Crunchy Cons” about his love for the organic despite its liberal tinge (and the predictable sneering of his Republican colleagues), conservatism is in part defined by the belief that “generally speaking, Small and Local and Particular and Old are better.” Much more recently, Carmel Richardson wrote for The American Conservative after Iowa’s raw milk law went into effect that the law evoked “the ghost” of a “rugged ethos” present in American culture and history. 

What’s happened simultaneously is that Republicans now dominate the less educated and are home to the most avid conspiratorial thinkers. As Novicoff notes, “ 2009, far more Obama voters than McCain voters (27 percent vs. 2 percent) believed the conspiracy theory that George W. Bush had a hand in 9/11.”




✿ Come out and join us for a few beers on March 21st for our Spring Bar Hours with the fellas over at Ridge Runner (RegisterMore Info on RR)


From Megan Podsiedlik

It’s been three weeks since Mayor O’Connell announced his intention to offer voters a transit referendum this November. We have yet to see the final proposal, but O’Connell has made clear that a thirty-year investment in buses and infrastructure is “in many ways, our last best chance to take a huge step forward together as a city.” But why? During Friday’s media roundtable, the Pamphleteer asked the mayor why committing to dedicated transit funding is the right move, right now. 

“The long term answer is because this is also our best pathway to reappropriate federal dollars to Nashville,” O’Connell explained. “Over the next few years, this moment in particular has been one of the largest federal investments in infrastructure and service that we've seen.” 

O’Connell further underscored his sense of urgency. “That window is going to close at some point in the next three to four years….The idea that having predictable sources that can be used for local matches increase your probability in being able to use tax money we’re sending off to Washington right now anyway that would otherwise go to another city that's trying to make this kind of investment.”

“… The demand has been growing for fifteen years, but we've barely advanced the bus system in that entire period,” he continued. Though this turns into a “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” sort of conundrum when compared to his “If you build it, they will ride” notion, O’Connell’s devotion to long-term, dedicated transit funding can be better understood when looking at his time on Metro Council. 

“There's plenty to like in here,” he wrote to his District 19 constituents while reviewing 2023’s Metro Capital Spending Plan. “But I'm also frustrated. Over the past three years, we've allocated about $1.5 billion of local capital, and we've invested so little in transit that it repeatedly doesn't even merit a mention in the press releases.”

Near the end of his post, he noted that capital spending plans, unlike Metro’s year-over-year operating budget, “are built from scratch each time.” With that in mind, he reasoned, the council could get to the point “where we're intentionally treating this as opportunistic funding opportunities for our transportation plan, and specifically its transit elements.” Now, at the helm of the city, O’Connell has taken it even further, demonstrating his willingness to use every possible tool to propel this vision forward. 

To date, the mayor’s Transportation Improvement Program Community Advisory Committee has held four meetings. O’Connell is set to unveil the finalized referendum by the end of this month. It will then be brought before the council, who will need to approve its appearance on November’s ballot. Ultimately, the choice will be up to Nashvillians.


Proposal to remove racing, add affordable housing at fairgrounds certified (Post) The Metro Charter Revision Commission voted Monday to certify a petition to remove auto racing and add affordable housing to the Fairgrounds Nashville amendment. In a previous meeting, the commission did not certify the petition due to incorrect formatting.

Titans seat license bill would cap increase at 20% for 10-year license holders (Center Square) The bill initially was written to block any increase in those prices but Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, said he was planning to amend the bill to be more reasonable to the Titans. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Congo Tops National Origin List for Refugees Resettled in Tennessee this Year (Star) The report says that the total number of Congolese refugees resettled in the Volunteer State from October 1 through February 29 is 264. The second highest number of refugees by country of origin comes from Venezuela, at 110. Third is Burma at 68 and fourth is Afghanistan at 62.


  • Two restaurants open this month in downtown Nashville (NBJ)
  • On-site work set for SoBro hotel project by month’s end (Post)
  • Capitol View developer eyes downtown Gallatin project (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🎸 Tim O'Brien's 70th Birthday Celebration @ Station Inn, 8p, $30, Info
+ featuring Washboard Chaz, Larry Atamanuik, Mike Bub, Shad Cobb, Jan Fabricius and Ed Snodderly

🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street

🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 680: Out on the Weekend
🗓️ Megan recaps the council, Jerod reviews a poetry collection, and our weekly film rundown.
No. 679: Lost in the Sauce
📅 Today, Davis talks about the arts, Jerod reviews The Zone of Interest, and Megan digs into Metropolis, the parking company everyone seems to have issues with.
No. 677: Super Tuesday
🇺🇸 Super Tuesday, what do I do? How many potholes have been filled? And more!
No. 676: Keep Out
📅 Today, Davis talks about tourism again, Miles talks about the Preds hot streak, and Megan recaps Saturdy’s contentious meeting on zoning reform.
No. 675: On the Big Screen
🎞️ Movies galore, most anticipated of 2024, Titans stadium groundbreaking, AG takes action, and much more!


  • 🎞️ The Pamphleteer’s ten most anticipated films of 2024 (Read)
  • 🏠 The Zone of Interest cuts deeper than its Nazi-alluding target audience would like to admit. (Read)
  • ⛪️ Rob Reiner's documentary on Christian Nationalism completely misses the mark (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.