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Rural America should overcome simple resentment
Nebraska is as “red” a state as they come, with all five of our congressional delegates members of the Republican Party.
You’ve probably seen a red/blue political map of the United States, with the vast majority of the land covered in red, blue concentrated in the heavily populated urban areas.
Yes, Nebraska is a “red” state, but we’ve always had an independent, populist streak that defies strict, party-line loyalty. Sen. George W. Norris was one example, considered the father of our non-partisan Legislature. Sen. Ben Nelson was another, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, with the exception, perhaps, of his pivotal Obamacare vote.
The GOP still held sway during the last election, with about 48 percent of registered Nebraska voters Republicans and 31 percent Democrats, but the number of independents grew to 20 percent, up by more than 11 percent since the last mid-term election.
The red/blue map may do a better job of explaining the current political climate than a simple discussion of political parties.
In her new book, “The Politics of Resentment,” Kathy Cramer points to the role the rural/urban split played in the recent U.S. Senate race in Alabama, where Republican candidate Roy Moore was narrowly defeated, despite having been accused of inappropriate sexual advances toward teenage girls years ago.
Cramer says her research shows many rural Americans resent people who hold the power, feeling they are being condescended to by the Democratic Party.
“They’re also talking about racial and ethnic minorities. There’s an element of racism here that we need to pay careful attention to.”
The politics of resentment that played a huge role in the election of Donald Trump will likely continue to factor into political outcomes, she said, with rural voters, especially, voting against any candidate they see as an establishment politician.
“If you’re perceiving that you’re not getting your fair share, there’s a lot of room for someone, a political entrepreneur, someone who sees some gain to be made by tapping into that sentiment by saying, ‘You’re right, you’re not getting what you deserve,’ and offering up a target of blame for the people,” she said.
Nebraska is blessed with low unemployment rates, but lower corn prices have put the brakes on a farm economy that was booming a few short years ago.
But for all its faults, America is blessed with a system that can be bent to the will of the people. The rural-urban disparity, for example, is kept in check, in part, through the Electoral College.
Better than simply voting for resentment, the answer is to keep up with the issues through reliable news sources, get involved in politics at any level and, at a bare minimum, register and vote.