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The Rural Riddle
July 18, 2001
by Patrick O'Brien

You can blame the NRA. You can blame Right to Life. You can even blame the Klan. But why is it that rural areas support Republicans in far greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts?

There are a few small reasons. Most rural residents are good ole God-fearing churchgoers that are ardently pro-life, differing from the Democratic Party line. Many are hunters, and the right to own a firearm without any government interference is important to them. The NRA has these people scared into believing that all Democrats stand for taking away their firearms. Some are just isolated bigots, and the sometimes exclusive, homophobic Republican agenda suits them better than the more liberal Democratic ideal.

But let's dig deeper, into the heart of the Republican Party beast. Why do these lower to middle class people, the ones who benefit the most from the Democratic agenda, vote so solidly Republican? The answer is quite simple really.

It is because they have never been told the truth about liberal policies and candidates. It is because for years, all liberals were branded as "godless commies," even though these people generally had no idea what a "commie" stood for besides just being a Communist. They usually had an even less idea on what a Liberal was. They just knew they were supposed to hate them both, and that was all their parents and grandparents had told them.

Granted there are many exceptions to this theory. Many rural elders are life-long Democrats thanks to FDR and his work to pull their country out of the Great Depression, win World War Two, and catapult the United States into the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world. But these people are unfortunately leaving us, and their sons and daughters raised during McCarthyism, the tumultuous 1960's, and the Reagan Revolution are now passing on their words of "wisdom" to their sons and daughters.

I have talked with many people during my campaign for the State House in Michigan. My district, and my hometown, is in a fairly rural part of the state. People I have known for my entire life, those who have watched me grow up, coached my youth baseball teams, ordered food in my family's restaurant, and smiled at me at the local post office, all now chide me for being a Democrat running in a Republican district.

I always pose the same question to each and every one. "Why is being a Democrat a bad thing?" And lo and behold, nine times out of ten I get nothing for an answer in response. Nothing! I always make a point to talk about what being a Democrat means to me-being for the little guy, not Big Business; being for equality for everyone, not just the elite; being for a clean environment that everyone can enjoy; being for safe working conditions and a government that lends you a helping hand and protects you from falling on extreme economic distress.

And you know the best part?

After talking with these folks, most agree that being a Democrat isn't such a bad thing after all. Some, who actually know a few of the differences between a Republican and a Democrat, soften their ideological hatred. The ones who know nothing other than that their mothers and fathers voted Republican and they should too become a little more informed, some even interested in politics. A few of these people even register to vote as Democrats.

One such friend declared that she was a Republican and voted that way because she liked the name "Republican" and the elephant emblem. After talking with this person, she decided to research the differences between the two parties on her own. The Democratic Party of Michigan now has one new member.

So you're saying, "Great story…but this doesn't affect me." Wrong. Look at the "Red vs. Blue" maps. Notice one thing about all that Red-it is in states that have many, many rural areas. You want to take back Congress and the Presidency? Start working in these areas. Talk to your rural friends. Tell them what the Democratic Party stands for, and show them how the Republicans tend to screw over everyone for the sake of corporate profits. Educate the young. They hold the keys to future victories.

We here that visit Democratic Underground all know Democrats and liberalism are not bad or things to be feared. It is just getting the message out to those who have never heard the other side of the argument that will take a little bit of work.

But from the look in people's eyes when they finally hear the truth, I can attest it is well worth the effort. As Crewleader (one of the regular posters in the DU discussion forums) always says, "Democratic Solidarity." This includes opening up the tent to include our brethren who belong and just don't know it yet.


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