This NYT article brought to my attention at Max Sawicky’s blog
is the best illustration I’ve yet seen about why the Democrats are losing rural voters.
The article talks about the DNC’s strategies for winning back rural votes – by endorsing every negative stereotype of the rural life in the book.
In his very Southern way, Miller was making a point about culture. Rural voters bristle at the fact that in urban America, their chosen pastimes are considered backward, the punch lines to redneck jokes. And so the amorphous concept of respect, in rural America, has become a genuine political issue. African-American voters, long bound to the Democratic Party by issues like affirmative action and affordable housing, don’t demand that a candidate embrace hip-hop. But to rural voters, an appreciation for stock-car racing, hunting and bluegrass is a critical show of faith — and it has to precede any serious discussion of Social Security or tax cuts.
This is insulting to the extreme. So rural voters need to be placated by stock-car racing before the Democrats can spoon-feed them their message. If a Republican went around and told their candidates that they should have fried chicken and blues before every campaign event that person would probably be crucified by angry Democrats. Yet the DNC feels perfectly fine about playing to the stereotype of rural voters as beer-swilling, country-music listening hicks who only vote Republican because they think that Democrats are a bunch of godless heathens.
The Democrats aren’t losing rural votes because of appearances, they’re losing rural voters because of policies. They’re losing due to policies like their opposition to a permanent repeal of the estate tax, which means that the owners of family farms can’t afford to pass their land to their children. Their environmental stances on land-management often go against the interests of people who work and know the very land that the Democrats want to control. Every cent per gallon of gasoline cuts into the family budget – and that terrible gas-guzzling SUV that the Democrats love to demonize are often the only vehicles that stand a chance in those cold Midwestern winters.
The Democrats have this idea that they are the enlightened few, and that anyone who votes Republican only does so out of ignorance or malice. It’s an attitude that I’ve experienced often from Democratic partisans. Like all great hubris, in the end it will lead to an equally great fall.