Tag: rural America

Trump’s America – Red, White, And Red

Why Trump Cannot Win The Popular Vote

Image by Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette

Why would anyone running for President do everything in his power to anger voters in the states with the highest populations? It would seem to be a losing proposition right from the start.

And why would a New York City real estate mogul target rural voters to be the base of his support?

Trump’s 2016 campaign WAS NEVER intended to win the election. What were the real intentions of his campaign? The first and foremost was to aid Putin in sowing discord among Americans. His reward for this would have been more money in his pocket with a Trump Tower Moscow. The second was to sew racial discord throughout the country. The Trump family has always been racist. The third was to set the stage for a new Trump television platform where he could preach to the uneducated, racist, gun-toting sycophants that would contribute money to “their” cause that would go directly into the Trump bank account. No different than his Trump University Real Estate where he promised hardworking Americans a way to get rich in the real estate game, but it was all based on a lie for which the Trump organization had to settle the case against him for $25 million.

Trump was aware of the fact in 2015 and still is today that New York had him pegged as a despicable human being and failed businessman. He was already told by every legitimate bank in the country they would not do business with them. Anyone who spent 10 minutes on the Google machine could have found this out before the election.

Trump was already aware the rest of the country was already on to him. Because of this Trump had to target the less informed rural voters. Rural education is falling farther behind by the day. In 2018 when West Virginia and Oklahoma school districts went on strike they were using textbooks that had the most recent president as Ronald Reagan!

And most rural dwellers were already ardent believers. Not of him, but of their faith. And two-thirds of Protestants live in or near poverty. Why is that important? Because they have fewer means of gathering information. And because believers of any faith are less likely to look beyond their beliefs for proof of evidence. And another big plus for Trump is that ad spend is much less in rural areas than in metropolitan areas.

All of this still was not enough for Trump. His ego is insatiable. He had to ensure his beloved followers would follow him over a cliff. And in his most malevolent manner, he preached hatred of others. It wasn’t good enough to disagree with the opposition. His voters had to hate them. They had to hate the “invading” brown hordes, the blacks, democrats, women, and upwardly mobile successful liberals.

Now in 2020, the Trump Zombieland has gone so far as to make plans to kidnap a sitting governor. The FBI caught the suspects by thorough investigative work. Trump did not praise them for their work and has shown zero sympathy towards the governor. Even if he wanted to, he could not. He cannot show “weakness” to his adoring fans.

A bully always must remain a bully in front of his disciples or his downfall will be swift.

But there is even a bigger reason Trump relies on Red states. Dumb voters.
Yes, I know I will get flack on this. So be it. How do I know this? Because they continually vote against their own best interests. Over the last three decades, the rural population of America has been shrinking, aging, and is becoming poorer.

The number one reason for this they continue to vote for Republican politicians whose only interests are to look after their mega-donors, not the voter’s interests. They do not push for better schools or healthcare facilities. Or better infrastructure to lure more businesses into a community. They vote against healthcare that covers their constituents. They vote for tax breaks that already make the rich wealthier. And still, their constituents keep voting them into office. Sorry, that is just dumb. They are susceptible to the whims of any politician who uses their religious beliefs to gain their trust that those same politicians abuse time and again.

Politics and religion should never be on a ballot. One’s religious beliefs are his own, and that is fine. It should not be in a government policy that affects others that do not share in that belief.

To quote the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We now have a president that has shredded the Constitution. He tried to ban Muslims, a faith, like any other, that is protected in the constitution. He has constantly attacked the free press; the peaceful protests involving Black Lives Matter and has declared a war against the first amendment in every possible way.

And make no mistake about the fact that most of his Red State voters are complicit in the destruction of the Constitution they claim to hold so dear. I would go so far as to say that just like the President most of them have never read the Constitution.

Rural Vs Urban The Real Division in America

Why has the USA struggled more than any other country to get a grasp on COVID-19? Like any global pandemic there are certainly several reasons that lead to success or failure in treating and eliminating a deadly virus.

The first and most obvious case in America is Trump’s utter failure to create a national strategy to address this pandemic. Every country in the world that has seen success in containing COVID-19 has HAD A PLAN. A leader that wallows in chaos and destruction is incapable of planning anything other than more chaos.

Industrial Revolution

But the bigger and more problematic issue in America is the division between rural and urban Americans. This division has grown exponentially since Trump has run for office. But it is not new to America. This division has been seeping into the American mindset for over 100 years. The industrial revolution in the early 1900s led to a boon for metropolitan areas while rural America began to lose its identity. There was a massive population movement that saw millions of Americans leave their rural roots for more opportunities that were being made available daily in the rapidly growing urban communities.

Ten years ago, I retired and moved from the Chicago area to a small retirement community in Arkansas. Half of the population (12,000) is over 50 years of age. It is a beautiful area and people tend to be very friendly. Many are like me and retired here from other parts of the country. But what I have observed through my time here is most of those who have retired here are from other rural areas. They were looking for a similar rural vibe with better weather and lower taxes. This contrasts with the many retirees from metro areas that tend to move to warmer metro areas.

The division between rural and urban Americans is becoming more evident every day. Urban citizens tend to rely on each other more. Many rely on public transportation. Their workplace environments most often require interdependence with others to do their jobs effectively. This naturally leads to better team-building skills and better communication skills. Urban dwellers also are more likely to have advanced education, whether it be scholastically or trade school environments.

Rural inhabitants are nearly the exact opposite of their urban brothers and sisters. What I found most shocking to me when I moved here was how many people were obsessed with owning land. Not necessarily a home, just land. Now some do earn their living off the land and that certainly makes sense. But many own acres of land just because. They do nothing with it, have no plan to develop it, do little to care for it. I have concluded that it is just a shelter for them. To separate themselves from neighbors. There is no question that the average rural occupant has a more “don’t bother me, leave me alone, stay off my property” attitude than their urban cousins.

And herein lies the real danger from the rural and urban divisions in a pandemic. Everyday city dwellers rely on those around them to perform their daily functions. Because of this reliance, they understand that each of them needs to do their part if they are going to be successful in defeating COVID-19 and see a return to normal life. They are also far more likely to know someone who has died from it.

On the other hand, the more typical attitude of rural folks is one skepticism, indifference, and defiance. So many simply do not care if they are exposed or expose others. It’s just a hoax. This blew my mind and I have been here for 10 years! They talk about freedom as if it is something they inherited, like blue eyes or red hair from Gramma. “I’m an American and I can do whatever I want.” Yeah, try not paying your taxes and see how well that works out. I really am shocked at how indifferent they are towards so many Americans dying. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me since most of them I have met believes that Trump can walk on water.

I do have some hope as most of the younger people I have met here are more inquisitive and more likely to get their information from a variety of sources. Sadly, those fortunate enough to go away to college will be less likely to return to their rural home to make a life. Once exposed to a variety of people and knowledge at a university their world view changes significantly.

Do I hold out any hope that these divisions can be healed? No, I do not. Rural communities by their very nature are isolated. Most have little to no industry, high-speed internet, or access to Interstate highways. The only hope for rural America to have a chance of surviving would be a massive infrastructure bill to come out of Washington. And we all know that won’t happen.

America will continue to spiral down the rabbit hole that COVID-19 and Trump’s response to it has created. Rural communities will choose their “freedom” over the health of the nation. I was hoping that I could inject some humorous quip into this article at some point. I just can’t find a single thing humorous about this massive and apparently hopeless division in America.

Rural America Is Not In Decline

Rural America is not in decline. It is already dead. For years now there have been countless articles from multiple sources contemplating the dire situation of rural America. The typical questions raised were, can rural America rebound, can rural America recover, will rural America ever return to its glory days, why don’t rural Americans relocate?

All good questions. All bad answers. Let us face facts, none of which rural communities across the country want to hear. It is too late. Yes, too late for rural communities to return to their heyday. For a quarter of a century the state of rural America has been experiencing a shrinking and aging population, less productivity, incomes on the decline, growing drug use and rising crime rates. To make matters even worse the trade policies of Trump’s administration has devastated farmers across the country, many selling out to the corporate giants.

Rural America, for all the reasons previously mentioned, is also bleeding their best and brightest. Students fortunate enough to go to college rarely return to their hometowns. While at university they were exposed to a new world. One that included people that did not look like them, that shared experiences they never dreamed of, and opportunities they never knew existed.

Most rural Americans will look to find blame for all of this elsewhere. But it is the rural mindset that is the major reason for the death of rural America. The vast majority want their neighbors to look like them, think like them, share their faith and politics and are less than inviting to those that do not. In other words, they are set in their ways. The problem they face is that the world around them is growing in ways they refuse to adapt to. What business would want a workforce that is less educated and less likely to adapt to the modern and ever-changing technologies and socioeconomic diversity in today’s business world? Very few, unless they want to take advantage of the lower wages they will pay in rural communities.

The last time rural counties experienced a significant economic growth rate was in the early to mid-1990s. Since then all those gains have been decimated. In an article penned by the New York Times in 2018, the author made a striking observation still relevant today. “No one – not experts or policymakers or people in these communities – knows quite how to pick rural America up.” Two years later it is safe to say rural America is dead.

Rural Americans are not doomed to the same fate. They have a choice. They can stay and try to eke out a meager living where job opportunities are shrinking, healthcare facilities are limited, and hope for a brighter future for themselves and their children is just that, hope. Or they relocate. They take that scary step to build a better life for their families outside their comfort zones. For decades now a large percentage of economic growth has been achieved in the metropolitan areas of the United States. This should be no surprise as these areas have greater tools at their disposal. High-speed internet, greater educational opportunities, union trade schools, superior infrastructure. Everything that businesses use to their advantage.

I retired from Chicago to a small rural community of 12,000 in the Ozarks ten years ago. I like the area. It is beautiful and the winters are mild compared to Chicago. But, to make a point about the aging of rural America over 50% of the population is over 50 years old. I have seen small businesses come and go with a surprisingly rapid rate. I also see a level of mediocrity within the business community. They can settle for being “okay” because there is not a high level of competition. The vast majority of those doing business in this rural town would not last a month in Chicago. I only mention this to drive home the fact this is just one more example of why rural America is dead. It is not meant to disparage those working hard to keep their businesses afloat.

Like the businesses they patronize rural Americans are settling for mediocrity. They make excuses as to why it is so great to live where they live. I have heard them all. Less traffic, less crime, more freedom, blah, blah, blah. Let’s break this down. No doubt there is less traffic. It is because there is nowhere to go and far fewer people going there. There is less crime, but not necessarily per capita and this will be especially true as poverty continues to grow in rural America. And more freedom? Really? Freedom to do what exactly? Work for poverty-level wages even if you can get a job? Freedom to fly the flag or own a gun? You can do that anywhere.

Now, to be honest, as an old retired guy, I am grateful for the ease of which I can get around. It takes me ten minutes tops to get anywhere I need to go. And that is why rural America is aging. More retired folks are relocating to areas like the one I live in for a less hectic life where taxes and real estate are less costly.

I and others in my position have several advantages over most rural Americans. We came from areas where decades of high wage earnings and in many cases pensions that allowed for comfortable retirements. We do not work for low wages unless we choose to just to keep busy. We have the freedom to travel when we choose. We are not bound by our surroundings.

Because of my rural experience I have come to understand that for most younger rural folks making a move to “the big city” can be a daunting task. That is largely due to a mindset that is reflecting on what they would miss if they moved.

What they fail to focus on is what they can gain. The opportunity to have more fulfilling careers, a chance for greater educational opportunities, better schools for their children, a growing social environment with world-class museums, theaters, sporting events, travel options, and more.

The emergence of COVID-19 will exacerbate the problems rural America will now face. Cash strapped states (more likely to be rural ones) will need to allocate their tax dollars where it will benefit the most people. That will be in their metropolitan regions. Any infrastructure projects in rural communities could very likely be put on hold or abandoned altogether. Rural school districts that receive state aid could find themselves in dire straits. In any case, the COVID economy will most certainly hurt small-town America harder.

Sadly, most rural inhabitants will never experience all the advantages a metropolitan life offers. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. I fear that soon they will have little choice as rural America is dead. It won’t be long before America will have more ghost towns to visit.