Saturday, April 6, 2019

What Happens to Rural Areas After Trump Leaves, whether it's in 2020 or 2024?

If one word can capture the sentiment of rural and small-town dwellers in recent years, it is resentment.

Residents of rural and small-town communities believe they are not getting their fair share of government attention and vital resources compared to urban dwellers. They believe that America is moving away from them.

People in rural areas like feel as though they are being ignored by urban elites and urban institutions like government and the media at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet.
They believe their communities are dying, the economy is leaving them behind, and that young people, money and their livelihoods are going somewhere else.

They think that major decisions affecting their lives are being made far away in big cities (which is true). And perhaps most importantly, they feel that no one is listening to them or their ideas about things that are important to them. Most distressing to those living in this situation is the belief that no one, and especially no one in government, really cares.

To date, the phenomenon of resentment has been responsible for adding another layer of heightened division among Americans, including an increase in political polarization.

That makes it much more difficult for federal government officials, as well as those at the state and local level, to reach consensus on important issues of the day

It is this frustration and anger of small-town and rural area folks has resulted in increasing political support for Republican candidates, generally, and for Trump, specifically.

Given their intensifying feelings of resentment for being ignored and left behind, rural and small-town folks were particularly receptive to the slogan touted by Trump in his campaign “Make America Great Again!”

Trump won the country’s small town and non-metropolitan areas by 63.2 percent to 31.3 percent, with his largest vote shares coming from the most rural areas.

Like other Republican presidential candidates over the last 10 years, Trump garnered a large majority of the vote in traditional rural areas like Appalachia, the Great Plains and parts of the South.
Surprisingly, however, Trump also won a substantial proportion of the traditionally Democratic small town and rural vote in several key Midwestern industrial areas
Other appealing policies were tax cuts for both businesses and individuals; significant reductions in the regulation of business and industry; and import tariffs on foreign goods that compete unfairly with American-made products.

People living in small towns and rural areas who supported these kinds of policies were more likely to vote for Trump rather than Clinton in 2016 and they did.

Above all, Trump promised a shift in the focus of the national government so that much more attention would be directed to rural areas and small towns and the challenges they faced.
This evidently buoyed the hope of Trump supporters in these areas that they would be getting something closer to their fair share of government attention and resources.

Residents of small towns and rural areas are much more supportive of the Republican Party and its candidates than people in urban and suburban areas.

In addition, the most ardent supporters of Republicans are among those small-town and rural folks who are white and male, have less than a college education and vote on a regular basis.

I believe that the urban-rural/small-town divide will continue to act as a major force in politics for the remainder of the Trump era and probably longer.

Small Town Voters like Democratic inspired ideas, just not Democrats

In politics these days, it’s not as much what is said as who says it. The reports on last year's Nov. 6 election have been largely about the growing political divide between rural and urban. Urban voters are getting more Democratic and rural voters more Republican.

What we can see now, however, is that Democratic candidates are paying an “identity penalty” in rural counties, they are losing votes not because of what they propose but because of the “D” that sits beside their name on the ballot.
Rural voters both rejected Democratic candidates by close or in some cases, by wide margins but, on the same ballot, voted for Democratic (if not downright liberal) positions in nonpartisan propositions and amendments.

Party is largely about identification these days, not policy. Its like being a sports fan than a policy wonk.

Imagine walking down a hall of a large building. There are gatherings happening in two separate rooms. You can look through a door and see the people in each group. You size them up, seeing what kind of clothes they wear and imagining whether they would be the kind of folks you’d want to spend time with or have your children visit. You make a judgment, pick a room and go in. You join a team.
That’s how political parties are chosen. It’s about identification and social solidarity, not issues. And that identity is strong and divided by geography. Rural residents went in one door and urban/suburban dwellers went in the other.

Second, identity is not something that people easily give up. (Have you ever convinced a sports fan to change his or her allegiance?) And so the “identity penalty” Democrats pay in heavily Republican areas might....MIGHT be too great to overcome depending on the candidate.
This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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