Rural Votes Are The Key To The Kingdom
I think Dee Davis, President of the non-partisan Center for Rural Strategies, perfectly summed up the importance of rural vote yesterday in his findings in their new poll (which is linked in a couple places on this site).
“The rural vote determines presidential elections,” said Dee Davis, president of the nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies, which sponsors the poll. “Democrats don’t win unless they make rural competitive, and Republicans don’t win without a large rural victory. So you’d think that would mean the candidates would have a spirited debate on the things that matter to rural Americans, but we haven’t heard yet.”
There are now 56 million geographically-rural Americans. There are also millions of displaced rural-thinking Americans living in urban and suburban areas. Justin Fox is absolutely correct in saying that rural America’s influence is shrinking “economically and politically”. And as Democrats, we need to be shouting his words of truth to rural Americans. Examples of truth? The truth is we are shrinking economically because there is government policy in place that rewards the big, greedy corporations that send our jobs overseas. The truth is that the greedy who exploit us and the Republicans are in lock-step. On healthcare, why have the Republicans allowed 400 hospitals to close in rural America since Reagan? And then ask the big question, “What have the Republicans done to improve your quality of life?” I know of no real answers to that question.
There is all kinds of data out there that suggest Dee Davis’ assumption is correct. We are dealing in small margins and have 56 million Americans out there who have been screwed by the Republicans and huge corporations. The polling data shows many of them get this and are ready to listen, and the great news is that we don’t have to turn many votes around. The question I’ve got is the same as Dee’s. When are we going to have some spirited Presidential debate on rural America? So far, only one candidate period has even taken the time to present rural America with a plan. As a testimony to his electability, John Edwards has presented a plan with his comprehensive Rural Recovery Act which touches all the kitchen table issues and focuses on the plight of his homeland. As I noted yesterday, Gore got beat by 22 points in rural America…Kerry by 19 points. Despite dwindling numbers and influence, rural America (I’m sorry to say) carried the day both times for Bush. Edwards gets this. By reaching out early and earnestly to rural America, John Edwards will get beat by zero points. “Earnestly” is the magic word. John genuinely cares about rural people because that’s where his roots are set, and that caring shows.