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
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
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
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
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