Sunday, May 21, 2017

Democrats Need To Reintroduce Themselves To Rural America

I reposted a video on Facebook that looks back at the political events of the past week and demonstrates how FOX News distorts, deflects and denies stories critical of Trump and his administration. Regular viewers of FOX News are told over and over again the mainstream media is fake news, journalists are treating Trump unfairly, stories damning to the president have no basis in fact, etc., etc., etc. If your main source of news is FOX, you’re living in a bubble of right-wing fantasies and delusions.

Yet FOX News isn’t the only culprit in the conservative echo chamber. Another factor that on the one hand seems self-evident, yet is vitally important to the future chances of Democratic candidates, is what I call the closed political loop of small-town America.

During my life I have lived in several small rural towns. I found many of the clichés about small town living to be true. Neighbors help neighbors, doors don’t have to be locked at night and there is a real sense of community pride you won’t find in larger cities. In some ways, small towns are like extended families, with all of the good, bad and ugly aspects you would expect. And like many families, political views are generally shared and reinforced within the clan. To no one’s surprise, most rural folks are staunch conservatives, and so are their friends and family. When the men meet at the diner on main street for coffee, they aren’t quoting Marx or praising Elizabeth Warren, they’re parroting FOX News talking points.

I believe this is an important issue for Democratic candidates in all states, but especially red states. The good folks living in small town Arkansas or Georgia or Idaho do not seek out and rarely receive news or opinions contrary to their fixed worldview.  When it does happen on occasion, it is dismissed out of hand. That’s why I believe it is necessary for Democratic candidates to go to the rural towns in their states and meet with people face to face. Democrats have written off rural America for far too long, and the result is a huge swath of the country drowning in a red sea.

Democratic candidates shouldn’t expect a warm welcome in rural areas, but it is absolutely necessary, especially in this era of Mad King Trump, to reintroduce traditional Democratic ideas back into middle America. It is the only hope we have of ever turning red states blue again.

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