Rural Power and U.S. Elections

Commentary, Role of Government, Robert Sopuck

A number of myths hit the trash can with the George Bush presidential victory, the biggest that rural America’s political power was permanently and irrevocably fading away. Yup, folks, the era of the city was upon us and rural interests would just have to knuckle under and be just darned glad to get anything from the cities.

Well, as the kids would say, NOT!

Woody Allen said that “95% of life is showing up.” If the voter turnout in rural America was any indication, they really showed up for George Bush and the Republicans. And they will be handsomely rewarded in the next few years.

The first rule of politics is that “perception is everything.” George Bush represented the values of Rural, Middle or Heartland America, take your pick. It was no accident that he chose Crawford, Texas, as his rural home, as the “second White House.” Folks saw him in pick-up trucks in a rural setting and their conclusion? “He’s one of us.” This is not an act; Bush truly believes the values of Middle America.

A few other bits of conventional wisdom were also laid to rest:

  • A high voter turnout favours the left-wing cities. Not true, since the Republican base turned out in droves
  • It’s the economy, stupid. Bill Clinton’s favourite campaign theme had no impact on this election.
  • Ethnic and some religious blocs all favour the Democrats. Bush increased his vote among Hispanics, Orthodox Jews, and Catholics.
  • Of course, the American Left is having hissy fits. Their reactions range from despair over their failure to communicate, to anger at us ignorant rubes in the countryside, to defiance, as in “You stupid fools, we’ll be back.”

    I am quite taken aback at some of the vituperative language they use to describe the people of Middle America who are, well, people just like us in rural Prairie Canada. It’s apparent that academic and media elites don’t like rural societies, I just didn’t realize the utter contempt they have for us.

    Jane Smiley, a famous New York City author, said in an article in “Ignorance and blood lust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states.” The red states being those that went for Bush. Maybe she’s on to something! When you cross the border into rural Montana or North Dakota, can’t you just feel the blood lust in the air? What a lot of nonsense!

    Other latte-sucking New York City worthies offered to take their lifestyles on the road to show Middle America about “honouring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles.” I’m sure North Dakotans are eagerly awaiting this visit.

    Or how about Maureen Dowd from the New York Times who writes: “The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule.” Ouch!

    Yes, yes, here is the famous liberal/left tolerance for all to see.

    Personally, I find this extreme language quite amusing. It signifies that the Democrats simply don’t “get it.” This election was all about values and Middle America has finally awakened to what their country was fast becoming. They didn’t like what they saw.

    Are they all intolerant bigots? Absolutely not, just communities concerned about the decline of the institutions and social structures that built American society. They may have just saved their country.