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Old 03-18-2019, 05:43 PM
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Democrats try to understand rural voters


The New York Times has just published an editorial titled "What Democrats Need to Know to Win in Rural America", which could be a starting point for a discussion about how Democratic leaders and the liberal media view rural voters.

Broadly there have been two common viewpoints about why rural voters voted for Trump in such high numbers, which could be summarized as (1) They're evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc... people who voted for Trump because he's evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc... (2) Rural voters are poor little dears who have been abused by corporations and globalization, and who actually are liberal democrats and agree with everything we believe, but they just don't know it yet.

In her "basket of deplorables speech" Hillary Clinton suggested that half of Trump supporters are one and half are the other. Elsewhere, there's been a media market for liberal journalists pushing explanation 2. James Fallows, for instance, published a series of articles in the Atlantic a later a book, documenting how he traveled through small-town America and found that the locals apparently all seemed to support higher taxes, more immigration, increased bureaucracy and government initiatives, and everything else that most readers of The Atlantic probably want. Some critics did note that Fallows seemed to prefer speaking with government officials and local hipsters rather than seeking out anyone representing the large conservative majorities in these towns.

And then there's this New York Times editorial. At the top, it describes the authors this way: "Mr. Leonard is the news director for the Iowa radio stations KNIA and KRLS. Mr. Russell is the owner of Coyote Run Farm and the executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light." Here's some of what they tell us about how the Democrats can court rural voters:
A strong Democratic platform with realistic plans for rural America would focus on four themes: demography, infrastructure, farm sustainability and environmental practices that can help combat climate change.
...
In places with a strong manufacturing base, housing can be scarce. Here in Marion County, which is southeast of Des Moines, there is a lot of demand for housing from workers in manufacturing jobs. But developers are tough to attract: There isnít much money in building 50 houses in Knoxville, Pleasantville or Pella, compared with constructing hundreds in the Des Moines metro. A federal plan could encourage housing in places like this.
...
Some south central Iowa manufacturing towns have hundreds of employees who come from surrounding counties, or even Missouri. That pattern of labor flow is common in rural America. If 40 employees can gather in a dirt lot at a highway intersection in the half-hour before shift change and travel together on a bus to work and back, thatís good for the environment and for the rural pocketbook.
...
The Green New Deal, even with its flaws, is a good place to start.
...
Rural voters also care about values. Many Iowans are people of faith, a majority of them Christian. Democratic candidates, if they look, will find a rising movement on the Christian left
So apparently rural voters want more government, a Green New Deal, and a Great Awakening of the religious left. Which is probably pretty similar to what the typical liberal reader of The New York Times wants. Indeed, it kind of raises the question of why rural voters haven't already flocked to the Democratic Party, seeing as their interests apparently match up so well.

Yet other than one paragraph about poor communication by Democratic presidential candidates, that is never addressed.

One wonders whether these two publications or any other liberal publications would ever consider finding an actual rural voter who voters Republican and letting that person write an editorial or two, explaining his or her perspective. Maybe the results would be somewhat different than what you get when a Democrat explains what rural Republican voters want.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:03 PM
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So what would be your suggestion of a platform that respects core Democratic values, doesn't betray any members of the Democratic alliance, and wins over rural voters?

Because it sure is easy to snark from the sidelines, or to offer fake concern, especially when you don't actually want Democrats to win.

As for your final sentence, are you totally unaware of Hugh Hewitt's line of smarmy smug lectures to liberals published in the Washington Post?

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 03-18-2019 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
So what would be your suggestion of a platform that respects core Democratic values, doesn't betray any members of the Democratic alliance, and wins over rural voters?

Because it sure is easy to snark from the sidelines, or to offer fake concern, especially when you don't actually want Democrats to win.

As for your final sentence, are you totally unaware of Hugh Hewitt's line of smarmy smug lectures to liberals published in the Washington Post?
ďDoesnít betray any members of the democratic allianceĒ is impossible for any candidate. You canít really reconcile centrist Democrats with the far left progressive wing other than the fact that they have the (D) and not the (R).

Bill Clinton being Republican-light and the pro corporation pro free trade centrists have very little in common with the progressive wing economically. Anyways, why should the Dems worry about rural farmers? The Dems need to reclaim the rust belt.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:54 PM
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“Doesn’t betray any members of the democratic alliance” is impossible for any candidate. You can’t really reconcile centrist Democrats with the far left progressive wing other than the fact that they have the (D) and not the (R).

Bill Clinton being Republican-light and the pro corporation pro free trade centrists have very little in common with the progressive wing economically. Anyways, why should the Dems worry about rural farmers? The Dems need to reclaim the rust belt.
Isn't the reason Clinton lost the rust belt because she lost the rural farmers and other rural voters in greater numbers than Obama did in 2008 and 2012? If so it makes sense to focus on them. Even losing the demographic by a little less would help.

ETA. Some places are of course more conservative, and I think there should be room for a Joe Manchin in the party as much as there is room for AOC.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 03-18-2019 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:19 PM
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One wonders whether these two publications or any other liberal publications would ever consider finding an actual rural voter who voters Republican and letting that person write an editorial or two, explaining his or her perspective.
To a leftist, any such editorial would read as "I am evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc."
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:27 PM
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There have been enough rural towns that have been revived by an influx of refugees (from one or another of the all too great abundance of countries that people have fled for their lives from) that surely rural America in general is aware of those stories. But few towns want to host the next such influx, even though the people who live there can see that their town is dying, the kids are leaving, and the ones who stay can barely find work.

What lesson should I draw from this?
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:30 PM
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To a leftist, any such editorial would read as "I am evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc."
it doesnt take much these days. theres no "woke"/nazi spectrum, its a simple choice between exactly two things. those who are woke know which one you are.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:42 PM
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Maybe what we need is a good civil war in which white shit-kicker America shoves its own fist up its own ass.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:32 PM
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Maybe what we need is a good civil war in which white shit-kicker America shoves its own fist up its own ass.
How about no. Reserve this invective for the Pit.

[/moderating]

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Old 03-18-2019, 11:54 PM
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So what would be your suggestion of a platform that respects core Democratic values, doesn't betray any members of the Democratic alliance, and wins over rural voters?
Is it disrespectful of core values or betraying members to mention what Democrats believed a generation ago? Bill Clinton didn't do too badly in rural areas, winning almost all rural counties in Iowa, Minnesota, West Virginia, Louisiana, and his home state of Arkansas, among others. But can you imagine any Democrat saying the things he said on the campaign trail?
  • Acknowledging that the tax burden on middle class families causes them problems.
  • Agreeing that some domestic federal programs and regulations are useless or wasteful, and might as well be eliminated.
  • Saying that immigration hurts working class wages and is a problem for many communities.
  • Having a party welcoming to voters and candidates who are pro-life, or otherwise differ from the left on social issues.

I wouldn't say much about the party platform--who reads platforms these days? It's what the presidential candidates are saying. None of them that I'm aware of would be willing to go in and say to a rural audience, the things that Bill Clinton was happy to say while campaigning.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:35 AM
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To a leftist, any such editorial would read as "I am evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc."
No. To any "leftist" that I know, and to any media that I read or listen to as representative of rational discourse, such an editorial would be subject to the process known as "fact checking", and criticized according to such failures as it may have to abide by the standards of factual honesty and media integrity. There really are such things as objective facts, even if Republicans increasingly fail to acknowledge that reality, and even as Trump increasingly spins an entire world of delusion -- a house of cards in which virtually nothing that leaves his mouth is true, and none at all is trustworthy.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:56 AM
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Is it disrespectful of core values or betraying members to mention what Democrats believed a generation ago? Bill Clinton didn't do too badly in rural areas, winning almost all rural counties in Iowa, Minnesota, West Virginia, Louisiana, and his home state of Arkansas, among others. But can you imagine any Democrat saying the things he said on the campaign trail?
  • Acknowledging that the tax burden on middle class families causes them problems.
  • Agreeing that some domestic federal programs and regulations are useless or wasteful, and might as well be eliminated.
  • Saying that immigration hurts working class wages and is a problem for many communities.
  • Having a party welcoming to voters and candidates who are pro-life, or otherwise differ from the left on social issues.

I wouldn't say much about the party platform--who reads platforms these days? It's what the presidential candidates are saying. None of them that I'm aware of would be willing to go in and say to a rural audience, the things that Bill Clinton was happy to say while campaigning.
You mean all the rural Iowa voters I know that state, simply, "I'd vote Democrat if it wasn't for abortion"?
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Old 03-19-2019, 05:36 AM
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ITR I'd agree that the communication by a presidential candidate is important to winning more rural voters over. But the communication that matters more than anything else is simply having some respect for them, that they have real challenges and problems, and that trying to address those problems matters too.

HRC's failed communication was not including them, let alone explicitly and prominently, as among the groups who needed her "ladders of opportunity".

There have been and are Democrats, including progressive ones, who win rural votes. Sherrod Brown for example wins his state by focusing on economic messaging. Mind you it didn't get him a majority of rural voters but quite a few.

You can respect rural voters and demonstrate that you care about their problems without pandering to them in ways that undercut your values or your support with your other important demographics.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:21 AM
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... James Fallows, for instance, published a series of articles in the Atlantic ... and found that the locals apparently all seemed to support ... increased bureaucracy ... and everything else that most readers of The Atlantic probably want....
@ ITR champion -- I read some of Fallows' articles but missed this claim. Do you have a cite for it? Or even a cite that "most readers of The Atlantic probably want ... increased bureaucracy"?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:40 AM
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How about no. Reserve this invective for the Pit.

[/moderating]
Sorry, I forgot where I was.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:15 AM
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Isn't the reason Clinton lost the rust belt because she lost the rural farmers and other rural voters in greater numbers than Obama did in 2008 and 2012? If so it makes sense to focus on them. Even losing the demographic by a little less would help.

ETA. Some places are of course more conservative, and I think there should be room for a Joe Manchin in the party as much as there is room for AOC.
Too lazy and hung over to look now but if I recall correctly, one of the main reasons she lost was not getting out the urban constituencies who typically vote for her in what were considered to be democratic stronghold states. The flip side is that Donald Trump inspired rural voters, many of whom had either voted very rarely or not at all or not consistently for one party or the other.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:01 AM
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The New York Times has just published an editorial titled "What Democrats Need to Know to Win in Rural America", which could be a starting point for a discussion about how Democratic leaders and the liberal media view rural voters.
[snip]
One wonders whether these two publications or any other liberal publications would ever consider finding an actual rural voter who voters Republican and letting that person write an editorial or two, explaining his or her perspective. Maybe the results would be somewhat different than what you get when a Democrat explains what rural Republican voters want.
So we have an opinion piece by two people who would seem to be in touch with their communities (one guy handles the news for a country and gospel music station, the other a minister who has a master's degree in rural sociology), and just because their policies have a liberal bent to them, you proclaim that the authors are out-of-touch idiots.

Your OP would be a lot more concise if you just said "Liburals SUCKS!!" Par for the course, I guess.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:07 AM
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There's an assumption here and in these articles that the "rural vote" is one, single ideologically homogeneous block, but rural issues can be just as complex as anywhere else. Election results just show who got more votes in the end in one area; in some cases the numbers can be very close. But if a candidate's message has to be conveyed in 30-second TV ads, and if people otherwise are listening to talk radio, then usually the candidate who is better at propaganda will get the advantage. Rural areas are by definition more spread out and less dense, so it's more difficult to speak directly to groups of voters and really address issues. This is a question of media.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:11 AM
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You mean all the rural Iowa voters I know that state, simply, "I'd vote Democrat if it wasn't for abortion"?
That's pretty much it.

This is the harsh reality, the abortion thing is to make themselves feel important because they really don't contribute much to this country. These people aren't farmers, America's bread basket is owned by a few millionaires and billionaires now. Everybody else is just getting by and spreading ignorance while the rest of us pay to support their mismanaged states.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:06 AM
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I think one big thing Democrats need to do to appeal to rural voters is leave the 2nd amendment alone. I've never understood why overall Democrats are against guns and Republicans are for them. You would think authoritarian Republicans wouldn't want guns in the hands of the people. And Democrats with their support for minority and marginalized groups, you would think they would want those groups to have the right of self-defense.

Liberals: Same sex marriage, absolutely. Immigration, more is better. Drugs, sure. Abortions, yes. Guns, no they are dangerous and might hurt someone!
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:58 AM
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This is the harsh reality, the abortion thing is to make themselves feel important because they really don't contribute much to this country. These people aren't farmers, America's bread basket is owned by a few millionaires and billionaires now. Everybody else is just getting by and spreading ignorance while the rest of us pay to support their mismanaged states.
Wow, talk about a dismissive, elitist statement. And we wonder why Republicans have so much success with painting us liberals as The Enemy.

It's true that rural America is no longer mostly populated by independent farmers, and the shift to corporate farming has devastated the economies and lifestyles of rural communities. That has nothing to do with why rural voters oppose abortion (to the extent that's even true -- I'm sure it's nowhere near unanimous). And it sure doesn't mean they have nothing left to do but spread ignorance and mindlessly support Trump.

Communities are dying. Have a little respect.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:18 AM
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Wow, talk about a dismissive, elitist statement. And we wonder why Republicans have so much success with painting us liberals as The Enemy.

It's true that rural America is no longer mostly populated by independent farmers, and the shift to corporate farming has devastated the economies and lifestyles of rural communities. That has nothing to do with why rural voters oppose abortion (to the extent that's even true -- I'm sure it's nowhere near unanimous). And it sure doesn't mean they have nothing left to do but spread ignorance and mindlessly support Trump.

Communities are dying. Have a little respect.
Actually I do have some respect. I think the leadership in these states sucks and takes advantages of the hard times people have provoking division instead of trying to fix the problems. I'd rather concentrate oh how to speak to the people there, but sometimes the popular notion doesn't match reality and I want to get past that first. I'm willing to be provocative and over the top to get through the fog to do that.

There's certainly not unanimity in the abortion issue anywhere, but the GOP has taken advantage of the issue and the Democrats seem totally blind to the opposition. It's complex, the anti-abortion movement has been given ammunition from late term abortion decisions. As far as they're concerned you can take a healthy baby after it's born and kill it. The Democrats aren't willing to bring this issue into the open and discuss the details, nor do they have any consideration for why some people see this is as a problem.

control-z also mentioned guns. I don't think that's as big of an issue as abortion but Democrats have the same problem there. Some of them are calling for severe restrictions and even bans on guns. That doesn't represent the majority of Democrats at all but the party should clarify their stand. Hopefully behind some simple common sense regulations to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and psychos, and the state otherwise that they back the 2nd amendment because it's in the constitution and it's the law.

Last edited by TriPolar; 03-19-2019 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:44 AM
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Actually I do have some respect. I think the leadership in these states sucks and takes advantages of the hard times people have provoking division instead of trying to fix the problems. I'd rather concentrate oh how to speak to the people there, but sometimes the popular notion doesn't match reality and I want to get past that first. I'm willing to be provocative and over the top to get through the fog to do that.

There's certainly not unanimity in the abortion issue anywhere, but the GOP has taken advantage of the issue and the Democrats seem totally blind to the opposition. It's complex, the anti-abortion movement has been given ammunition from late term abortion decisions. As far as they're concerned you can take a healthy baby after it's born and kill it. The Democrats aren't willing to bring this issue into the open and discuss the details, nor do they have any consideration for why some people see this is as a problem.

control-z also mentioned guns. I don't think that's as big of an issue as abortion but Democrats have the same problem there. Some of them are calling for severe restrictions and even bans on guns. That doesn't represent the majority of Democrats at all but the party should clarify their stand. Hopefully behind some simple common sense regulations to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and psychos, and the state otherwise that they back the 2nd amendment because it's in the constitution and it's the law.
I get being provocative, and believe you when you say you respect these folks. I also agree that, to swing some of them back towards Dems in 2020, the party needs to have clear messaging on abortion and guns that at least removes the fear of the most extreme positions.

Still, I think the primary message has to be about economics. Which party is more likely to help turn around your communities -- the one that tells you stopping immigration and cutting taxes will solve everything, or the one with an actual plan for nationwide economic revival that will rejuvenate rust belt and rural communities?

Of course, you have to have that plan first ....
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:11 PM
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Still, I think the primary message has to be about economics. Which party is more likely to help turn around your communities -- the one that tells you stopping immigration and cutting taxes will solve everything, or the one with an actual plan for nationwide economic revival that will rejuvenate rust belt and rural communities?

Of course, you have to have that plan first ....
Absolutely! The Democrats need a message about economic renewal in these states.

Last edited by TriPolar; 03-19-2019 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:27 PM
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I think one big thing Democrats need to do to appeal to rural voters is leave the 2nd amendment alone. I've never understood why overall Democrats are against guns and Republicans are for them. You would think authoritarian Republicans wouldn't want guns in the hands of the people. And Democrats with their support for minority and marginalized groups, you would think they would want those groups to have the right of self-defense.
Democrats are against guns because they all too often get into the hands of the mentally disturbed and are used to kill school children. Republicans don't mind guns in the hands of the people (preferably white and Christian, of course) because it doesn't interfere with the making of obscene amounts of money. (Of course, neither does what two consenting adults do in the bedroom, but consistency is far too much to expect in the modern Republican mind).

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Liberals: Same sex marriage, absolutely. Immigration, more is better. Drugs, sure. Abortions, yes. Guns, no they are dangerous and might hurt someone!
Akaj, you wanted dismissive and elitist? Try upstairs...
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Wow, talk about a dismissive, elitist statement. And we wonder why Republicans have so much success with painting us liberals as The Enemy.

It's true that rural America is no longer mostly populated by independent farmers, and the shift to corporate farming has devastated the economies and lifestyles of rural communities. That has nothing to do with why rural voters oppose abortion (to the extent that's even true -- I'm sure it's nowhere near unanimous). And it sure doesn't mean they have nothing left to do but spread ignorance and mindlessly support Trump.

Communities are dying. Have a little respect.
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Absolutely! The Democrats need a message about economic renewal in these states.
While TriPolar's initial statement was a little flippant, he has the right idea. Rural communities that used to depend on farming need to hear the same harsh-but-true message that the coal-minor community needed and still needs to hear: Find A New Job. You can no longer do business at the same fruit stand that Grandpa did. They're not going to like it. Nobody does. Cue the violins.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:38 PM
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Is it disrespectful of core values or betraying members to mention what Democrats believed a generation ago? Bill Clinton didn't do too badly in rural areas, winning almost all rural counties in Iowa, Minnesota, West Virginia, Louisiana, and his home state of Arkansas, among others. But can you imagine any Democrat saying the things he said on the campaign trail?
  • Acknowledging that the tax burden on middle class families causes them problems.
  • Agreeing that some domestic federal programs and regulations are useless or wasteful, and might as well be eliminated.
  • Saying that immigration hurts working class wages and is a problem for many communities.
  • Having a party welcoming to voters and candidates who are pro-life, or otherwise differ from the left on social issues.

I wouldn't say much about the party platform--who reads platforms these days? It's what the presidential candidates are saying. None of them that I'm aware of would be willing to go in and say to a rural audience, the things that Bill Clinton was happy to say while campaigning.
I'll start with the four points you mention as Bill Clinton having campaigned on.
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Acknowledging that the tax burden on middle class families causes them problems.
This is one Democrats still believe and campaign on. Republicans believe the opposite, but have convinced their base that tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases for the middle class (the Republican position) are actually the right way to go. Democrats believe the opposite, and want to raise taxes on the wealthy while giving the working class a break.

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Agreeing that some domestic federal programs and regulations are useless or wasteful, and might as well be eliminated.
The problem here is again that the regulations Republicans view as useless or wasteful are things that actually do benefit the working and middle class. Things like prohibiting the owners of factories, refineries, oil fields, etc. from dumping pollutants into the water supply.

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Saying that immigration hurts working class wages and is a problem for many communities.
This is another rich vs. middle and working class issue. It's rich landowners and business owners who hire undocumented workers at below minimum wage. If the workers were here legally the rich owners wouldn't be able to get away with paying the guy who picks strawberries or works in the meatpacking plant below minimum wage and working in unsafe conditions.

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Having a party welcoming to voters and candidates who are pro-life, or otherwise differ from the left on social issues.
I agree that there should be room in the Democratic Party for people like Joe Manchin and Bob Casey.

Overall IMHO the big issue is that the poor and working class rural voters who vote Republican are in fact voting against there own economic best interests. Take these positions for example.

Expanding Medicare for all.
Improving access to higher education.
Increasing the minimum wage.

These are all Democratic positions which would benefit rural poor and working class voters, but which they oppose because they tend to believe Republican politicians that tell them those things would actually hurt them. The only solution I know regarding the presidency is to have a very charismatic Democrat running against a not so charismatic Republican such as in the 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012 elections.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 03-19-2019 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:57 PM
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How about a swap. Democrats will try to understand the life experiences of white Rural voters if Republicans try to understand, the life experiences of LGBTQ people, people of color, undocumented immigrants, Muslims etc. After the 2012 election there was a brief suggestion that maybe the Republican party should try to broaden their appeal beyond white men. It lasted all of about 5 minutes.

So in terms of understanding the other side, please remove the log from your own eye before you criticize the speck in ours.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:15 PM
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Obviously Democrats have room for those who believe abortion is wrong, but how can they have room for those who think "abortion should be illegal"? They'd be partnering up with their most hated enemy.

What I can see room for is "let's not talk about abortion at all." Don't eliminate the pro-choice thing, and don't push pro-life. Just don't make it a part of the messaging at all.

I have to agree that, in 2016, it seemed that Democrats were not pushing economics for the white rural voters, and that was fucking stupid. People actually thought the Republicans could help them with economics, because they were the only ones talking about it: "Jobs, jobs, jobs."
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Old 03-19-2019, 02:26 PM
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While TriPolar's initial statement was a little flippant, he has the right idea. Rural communities that used to depend on farming need to hear the same harsh-but-true message that the coal-minor community needed and still needs to hear: Find A New Job. You can no longer do business at the same fruit stand that Grandpa did. They're not going to like it. Nobody does. Cue the violins.
It might not be a terrible idea to stow the violins and demonstrate a little empathy, even at the risk of watering down your tough love message. Unless you want to just concede the 2020 election to Trump and be done with it.

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Old 03-19-2019, 03:18 PM
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Absolutely! The Democrats need a message about economic renewal in these states.
Like what? How do you reverse the impact of global labor? People donít want to acknowledge the obvious reality.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:30 PM
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It's easy to say 'get a new job' but losing employment and a career is a major disruption, particularly if one is middle age, has a home, and has a family to support. People also get anchored to their community in a lot of ways.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:42 PM
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Like what? How do you reverse the impact of global labor? People don’t want to acknowledge the obvious reality.
We have that problem all over the country, but the farm regions have been ignored while we concentrate on the traditional industrial areas. When we're talking about infrastructure we need to consider these regions and how to attract growth. We spend a fortune propping up business in this country, we've long needed an incentive system to get business to establish in the areas that have been ignored. There's no magic bullet, but the people we're talking about feel ignored and left out of the prosperity that's been seen on the coasts and other places. If Democrats want middle America to have a reasonable debate and find compromise on social issues they need to feel like that they're not just election fodder.

It's really easy to say we should be empathetic, but that's the GOP game, faux empathy and blame the Democrats for their problems. It's time to point out that the Republicans have done nothing for them and they should take a chance on a new approach.

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Old 03-19-2019, 04:01 PM
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I think you need to start by looking at the differences in culture and lifestyle before you get to specific policies.

Here's a big one: People in rural areas generally live in high-trust communities with lots of social engagement, lots of mutual aid, etc. I lived on a farm in my childhood, and our 'insurance' was our neighbors. If someone got sick during harvest, everyone else would pitch in and bring in the neighbor's crop. If a barn burned down, people pitched in to help build a new one. The church was often the center of rural life - not just for sermons, but for the socialization afterwards that tied the community together and the bulletin boards that announced jobs, or goods for sale, or marriages, or whatever. People generally felt like they had a shared stake in the community, and therefore actually needed very little government help.

People who live in cities generally live in a cosmopolitan world where their neighbors are strangers, there are no large extended families to look after children while you work, if you get sick you're on your own, etc. So people in cities tend to look to the government to help them and protect them.

The thing is, the same policies that help people in the city can destroy rural communities by supplanting the social safety net administered by friends and neighbors with ones administered by bureaucrats. Environmental laws that make sense in congested areas can be seen as nothing but a burden to people who have lived in a rural area their whole lives and think they know a lot more about its environment than some Senator in Washington.

Take the Green New Deal. It would destroy agriculture. Farmers use a LOT of fossil fuels, and they have expensive infrastructures dedicated to fossil fuel delivery, storage, and use. Tell them they will have to give up their tractors and combines and pickup trucks and generators and augers and all the rest of their gas powered equipment in ten years, and you'll make an instant opponent, because they know that it's dangerous nonsense. Some of that equipment is so expensive that smaller farms may have equipment that is generations old, and there's no way in hell they could afford new replacements.

Imagine if you were told not that you're going to have to pay a little more money for your apartment heating for a carbon tax, but that you were going to have to replace most of the major property you own for new stuff that is ten times as expensive, and that you have no way to afford. That's what farmers are facing.

Then there's the problem of crazy federal regulations running up against the complexity of reality and rural people paying the price. If you have to seek a federal waiver to fill in a slough in your field before you can re-seed, or you get sued by the federal government for digging a basement on land your family has owned for 100 years, you get pretty angry.

But mostly, rural folks see their lifestyles fading away, their communities breaking apart, and they blame overzealous government for a lot of it. And some of it is cultural - city people are fundamentally different and have different goals and values, and when they seek to apply them to rural people, you get conflict.

Here's an example from my home province: The government decided that farmers had been 'getting away with' hiring non-union labor, and even child labor, because their kids worked the farm as well, and because there is a lot of unregulated work sharing on farms (neighbors helping neighbors, or a neighbor hiring another neighbor's teenaged kid, etc) So they announced that farms would be considered job sites, and worker safety rules and other employment rules would have to be applied. Children would have to follow government rules for underage labor, etc.

On paper, this sounds good. Farms should not be dangerous places, and little children should not be worked to death on a farm. But from a farmer's point of view, having children work the farm is part of the culture. They think it leads to better children, it teaches them how to farm so they can take over one day, etc. It's part of farming culture. I did it - I was collecting eggs and feeding the cows and pigs when I was 8 years old. I was driving the truck on the pasture by 12, and driving a tractor at 16. I think all of those experiences made me a better person, and if I were still a farmer I would resent the hell out of some stranger telling me my way of life was wrong.

Also, farmers tend to know what they are doing about a wide range of things, because you need to be a generalist. Take a barn raising - a liberal from the city might say that the barn has to meet various codes, and that licensed journeyman must sign off on the structure, electrical, plumbing, etc. But on a farm, if you don't know how to do these things, you know the people in the community who can. And if your barn burns down or collapses, the only people affected would generally be you and your family, and not the general public. Scammers and frauds can't last in a tight community, as word gets around. Incompetents soon find they are no longer asked to do jobs.

For a stranger in a city hiring strangers out of a phone book, and who will be building in the proximity of others, those regulations are necessary. On a farm, not so much. In fact, they can completely destroy the community model of engagement.

The new laws also had other unintended consequences which cut right into the heart of what I'm talking about - it threatened to replace the informal, cooperative, high-trust community of farmers with rigid regulations handed down from a government in a distant city. Need a barn raised? Too bad - health and safety training require for all workers, job site needs to be monitored, Workers have to be paid prevailing wages, etc. All rules that make sense in a city full of strangers but just get in the way of a community where everyone knows and trusts each other and are just trying to get things done.

The real answer to this is to have more local government, less federal government. Government that is closest to the problems at hand works best. Government made up of the same kinds of people who will be affected by the laws the government creates will make better choices, as will governments who have the most local knowledge about the specific conditions in the area being regulated.

There are liberal farmers, and conservative farmers. But even liberal farmers have different goals and values than liberal city dwellers. Ignore that at your peril.
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:29 PM
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Broadly there have been two common viewpoints about why rural voters voted for Trump in such high numbers, which could be summarized as (1) They're evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc... people who voted for Trump because he's evil neo-Nazi white supremacist, sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted, etc... (2) Rural voters are poor little dears who have been abused by corporations and globalization, and who actually are liberal democrats and agree with everything we believe, but they just don't know it yet.
.
We need to have an honest discussion about rural voters. It is only white rural voters who supported Trump. Anytime this gets brought up the right gets angry and tries to ignore this fact, or claim they are being insulted and called racist.

There are rural counties all over the US that are full of blacks, latinos and indian americans. They voted democratic. It is only the white rural areas that voted Trump, and white rural areas tend to lean GOP about 3-1.

So for your point 1, you write it off as some kind of insult but its something we need to be honest about. Deep down inside a lot of white rural areas vote because of identity politics. They vote because they feel 'their' America is under attack by out-groups, many of whom they consider dangerous (brown skinned immigrants from MS-13. Black gang members from the inner city. Foreign born brown skinned muslims). They view the democratic party as the party that wants to leave them helpless and open the floodgates for these dangerous out-groups to run rampant all over the US.

I really don't know if the democratic party can win rural whites. I'm wondering if there is any way to appeal to them. I'm fully in favor of the democrats trying to win them, but it seems to me that some of the big issues that drive rural whites to the GOP are identity politics, ego and masculine/feminine characteristics.

Identity politics I already discussed. White christians feel their way of life is under attack.

Ego is probably a huge one too. The GOP paints a very appealing narrative to its base (you're too smart, hard working, self disciplined and talented to need the government to hold your hand and pay your bills). Its all bullshit (in ruby red WV & KY, about half of the state is on medicaid and medicare for example) but it boosts their egos to be told how smart, talented and hard working they are.

Also I think a lot of rural whites are very tied into traditional masculinity and they see the democrats as limp wristed pansies who won't stand up and fight for anything (which is somewhat fair).

Knowing all that, can rural whites be appealed to by democrats? Can you really just say 'how about an anti-trust lawsuit against corporate agriculture' or 'how about a jobs program devoted to renewable energy'? Will that be enough to counterbalance identity politics, ego and traditional masculinity? I doubt it.

I really don't know what the dems can do. They don't need to 'win' rural whites, but losing them by smaller margins could pay huge dividends. Instead of losing them 70-30, losing them by 60-40 would make a lot of races more competitive.
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  #35  
Old 03-19-2019, 05:03 PM
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It's easy to say 'get a new job' but losing employment and a career is a major disruption, particularly if one is middle age, has a home, and has a family to support. People also get anchored to their community in a lot of ways.
Well, there's the role for government: instead of massive condition-free tax cuts to corporations, tie tax cuts to relocation to rural areas, and continue to support such relocation with other government programs. Subsidize job training. Listen to the corporations on the topic of skills needed, and make sure public education is addressing those needs.

Democrats should be talking this up. Republicans may lie and say "we'll bring back the family farm, we'll bring back high prices for your crop"---but then the Democrats should step up with the actual facts, and with promises that can realistically be fulfilled.
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Old 03-19-2019, 05:11 PM
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We need to have an honest discussion about rural voters. It is only white rural voters who supported Trump. Anytime this gets brought up the right gets angry and tries to ignore this fact, or claim they are being insulted and called racist.

There are rural counties all over the US that are full of blacks, latinos and indian americans. They voted democratic. It is only the white rural areas that voted Trump, and white rural areas tend to lean GOP about 3-1.

So for your point 1, you write it off as some kind of insult but its something we need to be honest about. Deep down inside a lot of white rural areas vote because of identity politics. They vote because they feel 'their' America is under attack by out-groups, many of whom they consider dangerous ....

I really don't know what the dems can do. They don't need to 'win' rural whites, but losing them by smaller margins could pay huge dividends. Instead of losing them 70-30, losing them by 60-40 would make a lot of races more competitive.
I think you're right about all this.

It would be nice to think that Democrats could expose the right-wing manipulation for what it is, and that those who've been swayed by the propaganda in the past would be disgusted, and therefore would vote against those who've exploited them.

But the message YOU ARE THE ONLY REAL AMERICANS is a powerful one. It may have been internalized so thoroughly that it can't be seen by its targets for the cynical ploy that it is.

Still, the effort to reveal the tactic might be successful with enough voters to make a difference.

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Old 03-19-2019, 05:18 PM
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Rural communities that used to depend on farming need to hear the same harsh-but-true message that the coal-minor community needed and still needs to hear: Find A New Job. You can no longer do business at the same fruit stand that Grandpa did. They're not going to like it. Nobody does. Cue the violins.
That would be a horrific message to send, at least in the context of an election. Do you think that they think that tough love approach is what residents of the poverty stricken inner cities of Detroit, Flint, Gary, etc. heard from their representatives after their once abundant reservoir of manufacturing jobs started evaporating in the 1980s?
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Old 03-19-2019, 05:28 PM
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This is one Democrats still believe and campaign on. Republicans believe the opposite, but have convinced their base that tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases for the middle class (the Republican position) are actually the right way to go. Democrats believe the opposite, and want to raise taxes on the wealthy while giving the working class a break.
Can we have cite for the claim that "tax increase for the middle class" are "the Republican position"? As I recall, the last big tax bill was passed late in 2017 by the Republicans, with no votes from the Democrats, and it gave the middle class a substantial rate cut.

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The problem here is again that the regulations Republicans view as useless or wasteful are things that actually do benefit the working and middle class. Things like prohibiting the owners of factories, refineries, oil fields, etc. from dumping pollutants into the water supply.
Let me ask you this: do you actually know what regulations are currently in place that affect farmers? Or truck drivers? Or small business owners? Or people working in countless other industries? Have you studied every regulation and worked to understand arguments both for and against it?

The answer is no, because there are hundreds of thousands of federal regulations, plus more at the state level, and nobody could possible know all of them, much less study the arguments for and against all of them. So if you wave your hand and declare that all regulations Republicans view as useless are things that benefit the working and middle class, what do you have to back that up other than blind faith?

Let's put it this way. There are some working class people who know that they have lost their job, or their small business has closed, or they have had to cut back hours or make expensive changes, because of government regulation. Is telling them that the regulation is question is really good for them likely to be a convincing argument?
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:00 PM
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Well, there's the role for government: instead of massive condition-free tax cuts to corporations, tie tax cuts to relocation to rural areas, and continue to support such relocation with other government programs. Subsidize job training. Listen to the corporations on the topic of skills needed, and make sure public education is addressing those needs.

Democrats should be talking this up. Republicans may lie and say "we'll bring back the family farm, we'll bring back high prices for your crop"---but then the Democrats should step up with the actual facts, and with promises that can realistically be fulfilled.
So you're saying, "Farmers: LEARN TO CODE". That should be a winning election formula.

If you really think that what Rural Americans want is more big government education programs and subsidies to help them move and become good city dwellers, or that they can be bought off with tax cuts while you regulate them off their farms and out of their fields, you aren't getting it.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:15 PM
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So you're saying, "Farmers: LEARN TO CODE". That should be a winning election formula.

If you really think that what Rural Americans want is more big government education programs and subsidies to help them move and become good city dwellers, or that they can be bought off with tax cuts while you regulate them off their farms and out of their fields, you aren't getting it.
Coding isn't the only possible industry that could relocate.

And your argument has been used for coal miners, too. 'This is the life they and their forebears have lived honorably for centuries, and they will not retreat from their heritage' and so on. That's an emotional argument, but not a good argument.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:29 PM
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Can we have cite for the claim that "tax increase for the middle class" are "the Republican position"? As I recall, the last big tax bill was passed late in 2017 by the Republicans, with no votes from the Democrats, and it gave the middle class a substantial rate cut.


Let me ask you this: do you actually know what regulations are currently in place that affect farmers? Or truck drivers? Or small business owners? Or people working in countless other industries? Have you studied every regulation and worked to understand arguments both for and against it?

The answer is no, because there are hundreds of thousands of federal regulations, plus more at the state level, and nobody could possible know all of them, much less study the arguments for and against all of them. So if you wave your hand and declare that all regulations Republicans view as useless are things that benefit the working and middle class, what do you have to back that up other than blind faith?

Let's put it this way. There are some working class people who know that they have lost their job, or their small business has closed, or they have had to cut back hours or make expensive changes, because of government regulation. Is telling them that the regulation is question is really good for them likely to be a convincing argument?
I'm not familiar with every government regulation. A google search for job destroying government regulations, however, turns up many articles from those arguing that regulations are job neutral to those that point to things like minimum wage laws as regulations that destroy jobs. Here is one, however, that is more in the spirit of the type of regulation that Republicans say is bad but which benefits the public at large even if it does limit the way some people can operate their business.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-o...ollution-65206

Trump has proposed the EPA reinterpret how they enforce the Clean Water Act, allowing people to pollute water that will eventually flow into public water systems. Do you really think this is the kind of thing Democrats should be supporting in order to win back the rural vote?

As far as all the small businesses that have closed, I think that has a lot more to do with companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon that have outcompeted the mom and pop small businesses than with government regulations.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:44 PM
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That would be a horrific message to send, at least in the context of an election. Do you think that they think that tough love approach is what residents of the poverty stricken inner cities of Detroit, Flint, Gary, etc. heard from their representatives after their once abundant reservoir of manufacturing jobs started evaporating in the 1980s?
I'm sure it was a horrific message to the horse-and-buggy industry when automobiles got up and running. A once-abundant reservoir dried up then, too. The country moved on.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:10 PM
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That would be a horrific message to send, at least in the context of an election. Do you think that they think that tough love approach is what residents of the poverty stricken inner cities of Detroit, Flint, Gary, etc. heard from their representatives after their once abundant reservoir of manufacturing jobs started evaporating in the 1980s?
I think its more about white privledge than anything. When black people were losing their jobs it was 'pull up your bootstraps'. But now that rural whites are losing their jobs (in manufacturing, mining, transportation, etc) its a national emergency that requires compassion.

Same with drug epidemics. When blacks in the inner city suffer the answer is curtail the bill of rights and send in militarized police officers. When rural whites have a drug epidemic the solution is narcan, diversion courts and politicians trying to solve the problem, rather than just contain it to the bad neighborhoods so it doesn't affect the larger society.

It just verifies that we are a multi class society and some people's problems are more important than other people's.

More jobs were lost in the service sector than have been lost in mining, but nobody cares because service sector jobs are held by women and non-whites, while mining jobs are stereotypically jobs held by rural white men.
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  #44  
Old 03-19-2019, 10:58 PM
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So you're saying, "Farmers: LEARN TO CODE". That should be a winning election formula.

If you really think that what Rural Americans want is more big government education programs and subsidies to help them move and become good city dwellers, or that they can be bought off with tax cuts while you regulate them off their farms and out of their fields, you aren't getting it.
Regulate them off their farms? They're losing their farms because of the moron they voted for cratering crop prices because "Jina" is bad.

It's more like "Farmers: YOU CAN'T PROVIDE AFFORDABLE FOOD WITHOUT MASSIVE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION". If you're going to vote based on other people getting stuff they may not deserve, get the fuck off the government teat and find a real job.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:17 AM
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Well, there's the role for government: instead of massive condition-free tax cuts to corporations, tie tax cuts to relocation to rural areas, and continue to support such relocation with other government programs. Subsidize job training. Listen to the corporations on the topic of skills needed, and make sure public education is addressing those needs.

Democrats should be talking this up. Republicans may lie and say "we'll bring back the family farm, we'll bring back high prices for your crop"---but then the Democrats should step up with the actual facts, and with promises that can realistically be fulfilled.
I don't disagree with any of this.

I guess my post was in response to the 'just get a job' comments earlier. One of the points that Andrew Yang has made, one that resonates with me, is that just switching careers ain't easy, and we as a society generally lack mechanisms which facilitate career changes. That is partly why even as the economy gradually rebounded from the 2008 market crash, labor participation tended to stagnate more.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:19 AM
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Regulate them off their farms? They're losing their farms because of the moron they voted for cratering crop prices because "Jina" is bad.

It's more like "Farmers: YOU CAN'T PROVIDE AFFORDABLE FOOD WITHOUT MASSIVE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION". If you're going to vote based on other people getting stuff they may not deserve, get the fuck off the government teat and find a real job.
Another issue that white farmers need to start taking seriously is climate change. Those farmers in Nebraska need to understand that the moron they voted for represents future ecological disaster that could forever destroy our breadbasket. In fact, long before we see the very worst effects of climate change, we will begin to see the impact at the grocery store, when there are food shortages and price spikes.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:24 AM
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So you're saying, "Farmers: LEARN TO CODE". That should be a winning election formula.

If you really think that what Rural Americans want is more big government education programs and subsidies to help them move and become good city dwellers, or that they can be bought off with tax cuts while you regulate them off their farms and out of their fields, you aren't getting it.
You address something which I brought up in a previous post, which is that farmers are attached to their communities and would be displaced if they had to relocate to find work -- I don't disagree with you at all here.

But there probably are things that big government can do to help farmers, and last time I looked, big government helps farmers already -- like a lot, with ag subsidies and a range of basically protectionist policies. They will get federal assistance for their crop losses. Farmers should be the last to cry about the evils of big government.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:29 AM
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We need to have an honest discussion about rural voters. It is only white rural voters who supported Trump. Anytime this gets brought up the right gets angry and tries to ignore this fact, or claim they are being insulted and called racist.

There are rural counties all over the US that are full of blacks, latinos and indian americans. They voted democratic. It is only the white rural areas that voted Trump, and white rural areas tend to lean GOP about 3-1.

So for your point 1, you write it off as some kind of insult but its something we need to be honest about. Deep down inside a lot of white rural areas vote because of identity politics. They vote because they feel 'their' America is under attack by out-groups, many of whom they consider dangerous (brown skinned immigrants from MS-13. Black gang members from the inner city. Foreign born brown skinned muslims). They view the democratic party as the party that wants to leave them helpless and open the floodgates for these dangerous out-groups to run rampant all over the US.

I really don't know if the democratic party can win rural whites. I'm wondering if there is any way to appeal to them. I'm fully in favor of the democrats trying to win them, but it seems to me that some of the big issues that drive rural whites to the GOP are identity politics, ego and masculine/feminine characteristics.

Identity politics I already discussed. White christians feel their way of life is under attack.

Ego is probably a huge one too. The GOP paints a very appealing narrative to its base (you're too smart, hard working, self disciplined and talented to need the government to hold your hand and pay your bills). Its all bullshit (in ruby red WV & KY, about half of the state is on medicaid and medicare for example) but it boosts their egos to be told how smart, talented and hard working they are.

Also I think a lot of rural whites are very tied into traditional masculinity and they see the democrats as limp wristed pansies who won't stand up and fight for anything (which is somewhat fair).
Excellent insights and analysis -- this is spot on.

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Knowing all that, can rural whites be appealed to by democrats? Can you really just say 'how about an anti-trust lawsuit against corporate agriculture' or 'how about a jobs program devoted to renewable energy'? Will that be enough to counterbalance identity politics, ego and traditional masculinity? I doubt it.

I really don't know what the dems can do. They don't need to 'win' rural whites, but losing them by smaller margins could pay huge dividends. Instead of losing them 70-30, losing them by 60-40 would make a lot of races more competitive.
Correct again.

I think what Dems *can* do is to make climate change more of an issue, and it would probably be a wise move to use some sympathetic farmers as spokespeople. They should also be taking advantage of the Republican pivot toward protectionism, which is potentially disastrous for farmers. There's a space to fill.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:53 AM
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So you're saying, "Farmers: LEARN TO CODE". That should be a winning election formula.

If you really think that what Rural Americans want is more big government education programs and subsidies to help them move and become good city dwellers, or that they can be bought off with tax cuts while you regulate them off their farms and out of their fields, you aren't getting it.
Why do you think it's only rural whites who overwhelmingly support Trump? Rural black and brown people overwhelmingly support the Democratic party.
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post

Also, farmers tend to know what they are doing about a wide range of things, because you need to be a generalist. Take a barn raising - a liberal from the city might say that the barn has to meet various codes, and that licensed journeyman must sign off on the structure, electrical, plumbing, etc. But on a farm, if you don't know how to do these things, you know the people in the community who can. And if your barn burns down or collapses, the only people affected would generally be you and your family, and not the general public. Scammers and frauds can't last in a tight community, as word gets around. Incompetents soon find they are no longer asked to do jobs.

For a stranger in a city hiring strangers out of a phone book, and who will be building in the proximity of others, those regulations are necessary. On a farm, not so much. In fact, they can completely destroy the community model of engagement.

The new laws also had other unintended consequences which cut right into the heart of what I'm talking about - it threatened to replace the informal, cooperative, high-trust community of farmers with rigid regulations handed down from a government in a distant city. Need a barn raised? Too bad - health and safety training require for all workers, job site needs to be monitored, Workers have to be paid prevailing wages, etc. All rules that make sense in a city full of strangers but just get in the way of a community where everyone knows and trusts each other and are just trying to get things done.

The real answer to this is to have more local government, less federal government. Government that is closest to the problems at hand works best. Government made up of the same kinds of people who will be affected by the laws the government creates will make better choices, as will governments who have the most local knowledge about the specific conditions in the area being regulated.

There are liberal farmers, and conservative farmers. But even liberal farmers have different goals and values than liberal city dwellers. Ignore that at your peril.
Maybe I'm just familiar with different 'rural' areas than you, I don't know. The kind of communities you describe by and large don't exist anymore outside of religious enclaves like the Mennonite and Amish communities and haven't for decades. Barn raising? Are you serious? Rural people hire the pre-fab steel building contractor just like anybody else these days. Church is still a big deal for lots of these folks but it's metastasized in a lot of areas into a prosperity gospel pushing, fear of other mongering de-facto arm of the Republican party. It's just another aspect of tribalism, another team to cheer for on Sundays. As for the worn out old saw about conservatives selling the cure for these issues in the form of local governance instead of federal, tell that to red states with blue cities. Here in Tennessee the state government is about to strip subpoena power away from a police oversight board that was voted for by a good margin in a referendum. How many proposed minimum wage increases passed by cities have been over ruled by Republican super-majorities in red states? LGBT protections? This cuts both ways, and it rings a little hollow to be lectured at to live and let live from folks who think your way of life is inherently evil and un-American. Personally? I recommend ignoring rural voters, they're just going to lose more and more power with the slide accelerating as gerrymandering starts falling apart and the effort spent to sway a small percentage of them would be better used in exurban areas with increasingly educated populations.
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