Surround the Countryside from the Cities!
The Maoist dictum is to surround the cities from the countryside. Democrats need to reverse that dictum and push into the countryside from the cities because, as Will Wilkinson notes in a good piece in the Times, Donald Trump’s policies are leaving huge openings for the Democrats in rural areas. This idea is consistent, of course, with the Catalist findings on the 2018 election (reviewed yesterday) that showed Democrats making their largest vote gains in rural areas, essentially due to vote-switching by 2016 Trump voters.
“President Trump’s feckless trade war is bludgeoning the bottom line of the Republican Party’s reliable rural base. But the party’s disregard for the economic interests of its own constituents goes well beyond barriers to Chinese markets.
Small towns and rural areas, along with some Rust Belt metros, are falling ever further behind booming urban dynamos — leaving many heavily Republican regions in a deepening morass of economic deterioration, joblessness, substance abuse and declining life expectancy. The lower-density places most Republicans call home produce barely half as much wealth as our biggest cities — and it’s showing.
Yet the travails of America’s struggling red regions, and practical ideas about might be done to alleviate them, are barely mentioned in right-leaning policy circles. For example, “The Once and Future Worker,” a widely discussed book by Oren Cass, a former economic policy adviser to Mitt Romney now at the Manhattan Institute, focuses on initiatives to expand employment and wages for American workers but largely neglects the changing geography of economic output and opportunity behind the woes of heartland workers.”
“Politically, if Mr. Trump once again chooses divisive culture-war theatrics over an honest attempt to shore up the places that, for now, still prefer Republicans — probably a good bet — Democrats could flip rural House and Senate seats Republicans have long considered “safe.”
This mere possibility could even become likely if only Democratic primary contenders, now seeking favor in rural states, would finally spot the glittering opportunity that Republican misrule has laid at their feet.”