Urban and rural America cite irreconcilable differences in nasty, public divorce

imagesAfter an interminable, almost two year primary and presidential election battle, Donald J. Trump prevailed with the majority of electoral college votes. His opponent, Hillary Clinton is still gaining popular votes in California and will likely have one to two million votes more than Trump. The electorate is divided almost equally between men and women; those with or without a college degree and urban and rural voters. Voters who were disenfranchised from both parties wrote in candidates or chose from the Libertarian or Green Party, which racked up more than 4% of the combined vote.  Ralph Nader, who helped to ensure George W. Bush’s victory  over Al Gore, garnered 2.7% of the vote for the Green Party in 2000. For more details, see this Washington Post article. Of course, only half of eligible voters voted in this election.

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The election’s urban/rural divide is discussed in Helena Bottemiller Evich’s article in Politico Revenge of the Rural Voter:

“A lot of us in rural areas, our ears are tuned to intonation,” said Davis, who lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a Trump stronghold. “We think people are talking down to us. What ends up happening is that we don’t focus on the policy — we focus on the tones, the references, the culture.”

Intonation over policy suited Trump’s campaign strategy to a T.

Pew Research article on changing demographic voting trends in presidential elections since 1980 shows white voters sticking together with a growing split in non and college educated populations.  A 30% showing of Latino voters breaking for Trump also warns against conflating various groups (those of Cuban and Mexican origin, for example) which diverged in their choices and helped deliver Florida to the Republicans. While turnout was down from the Obama elections, Black voters were solidly Democratic.

Issues of race, trade and gender dominated election coverage, with little or no attention paid to environmental concerns or to substantive policy discussions. The race to the bottom has further estranged Democrats and Republicans and both parties are likely to suffer fragmentation and serious realignment. So in this messy, polarized America, what is to become of the children?

When rural and urban cultures are almost exclusively self-replicating, we need to find ways to communicate our commonality.  If we don’t, the same pattern of lurching from dispossessed right to left and back again will prevail.  Aren’t you sick and tired of those who are in power pitting us against each other? Will they ever have enough?

2910056_origThe American chessboard is littered with corporate robber barons competing for public resources from: Nestle, who is buying water and claiming it is not a fundamental human resource, to legislation opening protected parklands for oil and gas drilling and privatizing taxpayer funded entitlements to bankroll the empire.  Global movements toward authoritarian regimes are accelerating and aspiring oligarchs are circling.  Everyday people are suffering the consequences, yet refusing to join together because the incessant rhetoric of fear and hate on 24/7 news cycles ensures mistrust.  Those news outlets are also owned by a few billionaires.

There are so many issues to discuss, this city and country divide is just one.  But, it is a conversation that must begin.  I’m thinking around food and maybe farming. In the meantime . . .