It’s no secret that the Democrat Party has given up on rural America—or what many like to call, in their condescending way, “flyover country.”
And the feeling is pretty much mutual. Go to any rural town—from Cortez, Colorado to Lake Wales, Florida, and everything in between—and you’ll find plenty of “Trump 2024” flags fluttering in the breeze. But despite the party’s arrogant, coastal elite, which has written off the rural “backwaters” and bidden them good riddance, some Democrats are beginning to realize that this attitude is only hurting them in the long run.
On America’s Newsroom, Fox News host Bill Hemmer interviewed Chloe Maxmin, a Democratic state senator from Maine, and at 29 the youngest lawmaker in the state’s history. Herself from a rural area, Maxmin is one of the few in her party who recognizes the danger posed by her party’s choice to remain indifferent, or even actively hostile, to the country’s rural populations. As the co-author of “Dirt Road Revival: How to Rebuild Rural Politics and Why Our Future Depends On It,” Maxmin has some interesting ideas about the problem.
“You say going back to 2010 is when Democrats abandoned rural America,” Hemmer said in the opener to his interview with Maxmin.
“You know, I’m a Democrat,” Maxmin explained. “I grew up in rural Maine, and over the past couple of decades, we’ve really seen Democrats lose footholds in rural America. And that’s my community, that’s my home. I’ve won and run two races in rural America, in districts that Trump won, and I’ve talked to people who voted for Trump, knocked on over 20,000 doors, and just heard all of the common ground and the deep need for change that’s coming from rural folks.”
Hemmer then went on to point out that “we’re blessed with beautiful countryside,” but that most of the country is red (i.e., Republican or Republican-leaning), which doesn’t bode well for the Democrat Party. Moreover, rural and therefore Republican turnout was up significantly in the Ohio primaries that saw J. D. Vance clinch the Republican nomination for U.S. senator—and none of this portends a good outcome for the Democrats in November.
“I guess the question is ‘why?'” Hemmer asked. “What did the [Democrat] Party leaders not see in rural America as you make your case?”
“One of the things that I’ve experienced,” Maxmin responded, “in my campaigns in rural Maine, is that so many folks just haven’t been talked to by Democratic campaigns or Democratic canvassers, and so there’s this lack of direct experience within the Democratic Party of what rural folks are thinking and feeling. These are my neighbors, they’re the people who raised me, and they deserve a seat at the table in the Democratic Party.”
Maxmin conceded that the party now focuses most of its energy on city-dwellers, although that wasn’t always the case.
“About a decade ago,” she explained, “rural voters, there was no partisan lean, and now rural folks are going over 16 points Republican. There are so many different forces that have gone into that dynamic, from young folks leaving to just a lack of Democratic infrastructure in rural America, but one of the things that I think is that we just need face-to-face conversations, where we can have honest conversations, where we can agree to disagree, but at least start to build some kind of relationship that enables us to understand one another.”
It’s sensible advice, but it remains to be seen whether the Democrat Party heeds it. The disdain harbored by party elites for rural America is, at this point, pretty obvious and poorly concealed. So expecting them to abandon identity politics and to consume their requisite slice of humble pie while cultivating an interest in the more down-to-earth concerns of rural populations, is probably too much to ask anytime soon.
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