Monday, November 28, 2016

Get past stereotypes, ruralite advises neighbors

Rural Americans "have to reach past the stereotypes to understand their fellow citizens, who are increasingly diverse, and who increasingly live in urban areas." That's a message from Rich Hepworth, a retired veteran and volunteer firefighter in Cheney, Wash., just south of Spokane.

Hepworth wrote to Washington Post reporter Jeff Guo, in response to the story Guo wrote the day after the election about the resentment that rural Wisconsin residents feel toward urban areas, as documented by University of Wisconsin political-science professor Kathy Cramer in her book, The Politics of Resentment. He told Guo that as a liberal, he disagrees politically with his neighbors, but "I can attest to the hard work, decency and self-sacrifice of these people." Here's the bulk of his message, which he gave Guo permission to publish:

"As your article makes clear, city folks, minorities and elites do not understand the problems of our rural residents. However, my rural friends do not understand the the problems and dreams and unfulfilled expectations of their counterparts in the urban areas.

"My rural friends have been conditioned by 30 years of right-wing radio to automatically distrust anything that smacks of elite privilege. The Black Lives Matter movement is completely foreign to them and they cannot possibly relate to the problems with which these people grapple or why all the government money should go to 'troublemakers' like them.

"Our country friends find it hard to believe that the 'elites' and urban residents have problems, too. They wonder why all the government money goes to city dwellers, but discount the fact that a lot of money goes to them in the form of Big Ag support programs. My country neighbors feel strongly that it’s the least the government can do for them since they work so hard. At the same time my city friends, who are also not achieving the American Dream, wonder why farmers should get paid for crops they aren’t even going to grow.

"Let us not forget that people on both sides of the divide have problems that are just as big and just as hard to solve. For most of us, many, perhaps most of these problems, are the same no matter where you live."

No comments: