Excerpted from Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America
By Forsetti’s Justice / AlterNet March 13, 2017
“Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.” Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this.
The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out.
Until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:
- Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.
- Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.
- Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.
- No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.
- Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.
- Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.
- Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars” any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.
- They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.
They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
- They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.
- They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.
When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.
They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers,” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.
- They complain about coastal liberals, but taxes from California and New York cover their farm subsidies, help maintain their highways and keep the hospitals in their sparsely populated rural areas open for business.
- They complain about “the little man being run out of business,” and then turn around and shop at big-box stores.
- They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.
- Government has not done enough to help them in many cases, but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them into office over and over and over again.
- All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, spending on infrastructure, renewable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, and healthcare reform. All of these and more would really help a lot of rural white Americans.
Comments from LK:
The author goes on to explain that rural Americans change only when confronted with direct personal experience … and then, not easily or quickly. Will “Trump Care” be enough to convince Red States to understand that Trump, like others before him, are using them?
Why You Should Consider Running For Office
Our state and our country, particularly at this critical time, need public servants who will put people above politics and personal gain. If you’re one of those people called to make a positive difference, please … don’t let fear about what “they” will do or say stop you.
When I decided to run for Congress in 2007, I only knew that our state and country were in a mess and I wanted to help. I chose not to let my considerable anxiety stop me.
Here we are 9+ years later, and the mess is a great deal messier. That’s why I encourage you to run. And, I encourage you to do it from a public servant – rather than an activist – perspective. Because public servant and activist are two very different jobs. I have been both and speak from experience.
As an activist, you pick only one of your many identities and focus solely on the goals of that group. As a public servant, you promise to represent a hugely diverse base of voters; lots of races, ages, religions, genders, political ideologies, classes, education levels and more.
As a public servant, you must be able to understand your constituents’ diverse cultures and values; what unites rather than separates us; and you must find strategies which meet the higher goals of the majority without tyrannizing the minority.
Tricky. Difficult. Necessary.
There are plenty of purist already in office and they are part of the problem. Take for example stringent fiscal conservatives. They can be blind to the economic and human realities that this nation and Her people are facing. And, yes, the same is true of the “urban elite.”Despite all of our differences here in South Carolina and the nation, there is plenty of common ground on which to stand. As voters, we may wear identities that are superficially different; some of us are old and others young, some this race and others that; we’re male or female, straight or gay, rich or poor, USC or Clemson. We may even identify with ideological paths to get where we want to go and call ourselves Conservative or Liberal, Democrat or Republican, Populist, Progressive; but even these differences in how we get to a goal are superficial when you look at the shared ends we have in common.
The overwhelming majority of us want:
- A better life for our children
- Peace and safety in our homes, our communities and our nation
- Good jobs
- Affordable and quality healthcare
- The American Dream to live and thrive in quality education
- Fairness, freedom and equality
- Our precious coastal area to remain beautiful
- Less traffic
- An affordable home
- Reasonable taxes
- Politicians who have intelligence, integrity and who will serve us
During my campaign, a number of people commented on my ability to relate to all kinds of people. I consider that a huge compliment, but relating to all kinds of people is easy once you realize that we have everything that is important in common. We’re just negotiating how we get there.
Especially now, the next generation of leaders will need to know the importance of focusing on our commonalities rather than our differences in making decisions. Extreme partisanship, rancor, and character assassinations are qualities of an old style politics and it is rearing its ugly head again. Win/lose politics…scarcity politics (there’s only so much to go around so I have to get mine and to heck with you) can’t be allowed to flourish and you running for public office could be our best defense against that.
The politicians of the future will know that it is the responsibility of leaders to understand different perspectives, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. They will know to exploit the richness of what our differences bring to the quality of our lives, much the way a palette with fifty colors and hues expands the range of possibilities of a painting.
As we grow into those new leadership skins of the future, if you’re led to serve, or run for office, take all of your identities, all your brains and heart, all your willingness to listen and include, and offer them in service to our bruised nation and state. There is nothing to fear and we have so much more to gain.
Letter To the Editor: Counter racism with action, not guilt
Linda Ketner May 9 2015
We white people may feel that we are not culpable for the unprovoked murder of Walter Scott and other African Americans by police. That we’re not personally at fault that blacks receive more jail time for the same offenses as whites; or that a white man who has been to jail is more likely to get a job than a black man who hasn’t.
White people may not be to blame that although the federal government keeps statistics on everything from the number of pigs on U.S. farms to shark attacks, they do not keep records on police shootings. Rather they allow law enforcement agencies to self-report, and only 4 percent elect to do so. Not our fault.
But although we white people are not personally culpable, we are responsible. Responsibility isn’t the same as culpability. And we either accept responsibility for finding solutions to racism; or, we are colluding with its perpetuation through inaction. If we continue to believe that only victims of racism can talk about and affect it, we aren’t taking responsibility for our role in it.
So, as white people, where do we start?
First, by speaking up. Speaking up each and every time we hear or see racism — but we can’t stop there. We also need to start conversations about racism — in schools, at work, at places of worship, book clubs, business lunches, neighborhood association meetings, on social media, talk radio, in every aspect of our lives.
Next, we need to educate ourselves and our children to the history and sociology of institutional and structural racism. Some say we need to just let go of the past — let go of the history. But the roots of current injustices are in the soil of an over 300-year-old history of racism. We need to understand the soil to understand the fruit of that soil.
In terms of educating ourselves on the sociology of racism, in the United States whites have the vast majority of power in schools, corporations, courts, government, media and more.
Whites may be prejudiced against people of color and people of color may be prejudiced against whites, but the key difference is that whites have institutional power to control resources and the rights of people of color, which impacts their possibilities. People of color don’t have similar power. Or, as Chris Rock said, “I love being famous. It’s almost like being white.”
Other things we white people can do are join the YWCA, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Charleston Area Justice Ministry, the Urban League, donate to an African American candidate for office, give to the International African American Museum.
We can demonstrate. We can write letters to the editor and lobby government for body cameras, citizen review boards, excellence and equity in education, mandatory reporting of all police shootings. Above all, we need to act. White guilt is worthless but white action is not.
African Americans should not shoulder the burden of eliminating a system which often underestimates, thwarts, sometimes unfairly criminalizes and yes, even too often takes, black lives. Black lives do most certainly matter.
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Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour
I think it’s about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we’ve been voting for boobs long enough. ~Clarie Sargent, Arizona senatorial candidate
In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant. ~Charles de Gaulle
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where they is no river. ~Nikita Khrushchev
Truth is not determined by majority vote. ~Doug Gwyn
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. ~Ernest Benn
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says
government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it. ~P.J. O’Rourke
I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. ~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952
Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the
country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians. ~Charles Krauthammer
I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government. ~Cissy Farenthold
There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen. ~Author Unknown
I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. ~Charles de Gaulle
Politicians say they’re beefing up our economy. Most don’t know beef from pork. ~Harold Lowman
Mankind will never see an end of trouble until… lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power… become lovers of wisdom. ~Plato, The Republic
Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary,1911
American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver’s-license age than at voting age. ~Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964
Politics – I don’t know why, but they seem to have a tendency to separate us, to keep us from one another, while nature is always and ever making efforts to bring us together. ~Sean O’Casey
When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. ~P.J. O’Rourke
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~George Jean Nathan
A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. ~James Freeman Clarke, Sermon
Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose. ~George Will
Dumbing Down America
Odds say you won’t read this link … it’s too long. Some of us can only think in twitter now. Others can only regurgitate what our slanted favorite news station tells us. Thanks Adam Parker for sending this! http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/02/0082362