• The Grey Squirrel

Voting with Fear

I keep hearing, "Why do people in poor cities continue to vote for Democrats?" The poverty rate in rural America is 3% higher than urban poverty and those areas are and have been overwhelmingly represented by Republicans for decades.

Marriage rates have also declined faster in rural areas than urban areas over the last 50 years.

The gap between the percentage of urban men and women who attain a college degree and rural men and women has grown from 5% to 20%.

Children are more likely to live below the poverty level if they live in rural communities rather than urban communities. This fact is particularly stark for children of color.

It would be easy to look at these numbers and think, "Those dummies keep voting for the same people even though their lives are getting worse." That's the same argument Republicans make when talking about cities.

Here is another way of looking at it: there are lots of reasons for people in rural America to be frightened. When people post things about how backward and ignorant people in rural America are for voting for Trump, you are just confirming what they already think folks in cities and on the political left think of them. Condescension is a horrible way to try to reach out to people who are scared, and these folks have a lot to be scared about.

When discussing politics, it is always helpful to ask why someone might feel the way that they do. This does not mean that you have to agree with them or that you should acquiesce to harmful views. But if we want things to change, we need to find a way to draw together.

Grace is a much better tool than rage. So this election year, try to find empathy instead of enmity. Our leaders have proven incapable of bringing the country together, so we must look to each other to bind up our wounds.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

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