Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Liberal Democratic group targets 72 rural counties

A newly organized group of rural actvists from around the country is planning an ambitious outreach effort for 72 rural counties in 10 states this summer, seeking to build relationships with people who they believe voted for President Trump because they've been neglected by both parties.

People's Action is targeting counties in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin. "Notably, their list includes 28 so-called 'pivot' counties that supported former President Barack Obama twice before flipping to Trump," David Catanese reports for U.S. News & World Report. "The initiative will begin with 10,000 'deep conversations' this summer conducted by local activists in these rural enclaves, a sort of battery of listening posts to serve as an ice-breaker in places not used to hearing, let alone supporting, progressive ideas."

George Goehl, director of People's Action, said they want to "contest the narratives" told about and to rural people. Rural America is only 14 percent less diverse than the rest of the country, belying the popular image of rural America as mostly white, he said: "We will provide an alternative to the racist and divisive worldview and instead point people toward the true causes of their pain. And we will tell the story of rural people, not as victims, not as Trump voters, but as people who are protagonists in the fight to go against corporate tyranny and racism in this country. We will not concede the rural vote to the right, or to centrists for that matter."

One problem for Democrats is that they haven't expended the time and energy to consistently communicate with rural areas that have been increasingly hostile to progressives. Dee Davis, founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, told Catanese that Democrats won't be successful unless they're willing to "buy somebody a cup of coffee, put your hand on their shoulder, listen and change."

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