Understanding Rural America

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img_0327With the election of President Elect Donald Trump earlier this week the predictable simple explanations of the unexpected result have begun to pour out of the same media experts who predicted Mrs. Clinton’s election.  So, it was refreshing to hear from Michael Moore who had predicted a Trump victory. He gave a cogent explanation of what actually happened.  But there is also a danger in ascribing to Moore’s analysis a complete answer. It is an answer to why urban blue collar whites backed Trump, but it is not an answer as to why rural America is a sea of Republicanism not just for this election but for the last two decades.

If you have not seen Moore’s explanation, it is truly valuable and refreshing. I enjoy Moore’s movies even if I disagree with him most of the time.   It will also provide comic relief as two classic examples of the Eastern media elite, Eddie Glaude, Jr. and Anand Giridharadas, try to argue against Moore using the same arguments that lost Secretary Clinton the election.  No, everyone that voted for Trump is not a racist and America is not waiting for a burst of progressivism led from the elite living in coastal cities.

First, let me admit that I was wrong on the election and thought my candidate, Secretary Clinton, would win.  Once the captive press released the infamous Trump video with Billy Bush a month before the election after sitting on it for 11 years I believed the election was over.  And even as the data, particularly in the Senate races shifted, I believed she was too far ahead for Trump to rebound to victory.

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But I do believe I can provide insight into rural America.  I am lucky enough as a sportsman and as a Commissioner for Colorado Parks & Wildlife to spend about 50 days a year in rural America.  And when I am in rural America I am in blaze orange, camo, or clothes bearing Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop logos.  I am easily recognizable as an urbanite, but I am also there to participate in rural America not observe it.

If you want to have a good chuckle, have the patience to get to the segment in the video link where Anand Giridharadas claims that he travels to rural America and understands it.  I can only imagine Mr. Giridharadas arriving in rural North Dakota in $1,000 clothes with a towering bouffant and his tablet in hand to discover rural America.  Or claiming that rural America has no curiosity about urban America, when all of rural America’s television and web traffic are news and programming depicting urban America.  Clueless is not an adequate term.

What I hear in rural America is policy focused.  Rural America largely disagrees with the entire Obama/Warren/Sanders progressive agenda.  They do not want higher taxes, they want more free enterprise, they do not want gun control, they do not want to legalize undocumented workers, they do not want health insurance policies with deductibles and copays they cannot afford, they admire self-made wealthy people and hope their kids will achieve success, they do not want EPA regulated water useage on farmland, they do not want animal rights legislation, they do not want GMO labeling, they do not want the introduction of apex predators, they want the Veterans Administration fixed because they serve in the military in high numbers, they want their Christianity respected, and on and on.

In essence they reject the entire progressive agenda of the left wing of the Democratic Party.  The same agenda defeated in Senate races throughout the rust belt. The agenda Sanders and his followers pushed Secretary Clinton to adopt and doomed her.  And this is why the fantasy of progressives that Democrats need to move farther left is so dangerous. It means rural America will reject the party in 2018 and 2020.

What Democrats need is not to move left or to the center, but to listen to the complex message of urban blue collar voters and rural voters and craft a new message.  And they better remember that President Elect Trump won the votes of more African-Americans and Hispanics than Governor Romney.  What is wrong is not sexism, racism, and other “isms”, but the wrong policies.

 

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