Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Democrats need to stop neglecting rural America, opines former ag secretary Dan Glickman

Dan Glickman
Democratic candidates need to stop neglecting rural America, Dan Glickman, agriculture secretary under President Clinton and a former Kansas congressman, writes in an essay for Agri-Pulse. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, has expressed similar sentiments.

"The pre-existing political divide between rural and urban American communities has been widened by this election," Glickman writes. "That much is clearly true. Both for the health of the Democratic Party, and for the reunification of American society more generally, Democrats especially need to build bridges to rural America." He wrote in June: “These areas are worthy of attention by candidates for national and statewide offices. Perhaps some political consultants will tell candidates not to waste their time in a town of a few thousand people, but for the sake of good government and leadership, all American communities deserve a seat at the table.”

Even though many Democratic policies support rural areas, "rural Americans still feel isolated from Washington and, as the results of the election demonstrate, from the Democratic Party," Glickman writes. "True or not, that is a widely shared belief. The simple fact is the national Democratic Party and the presidential campaign didn't prioritize visiting rural America or talk about rural issues."

"Some campaign consultants and affiliates often argue that it is a waste of time for the national Democratic Party to focus their efforts on rural communities when they are not likely to reap substantial electoral rewards for those efforts," he writes. "Others argue that Democratic policies that support critical programs for rural Americans should speak for themselves."

"But let us be crystal clear about where the Democratic Party finds itself right now," he writes. "A big reason Secretary Clinton lost, and Democrats are reeling, having lost many seats across federal, state and local governments over the last eight years, is because of the neglect of rural America by the Party. The result this time was a reduced number of votes in rural counties of Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which may have been the electoral difference in each state." (Read more)

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