Do More With Rural Dems

Jaime Harrison is Biden's pick for Democratic National Committee chair
Richard Shiro, AP

Dear Jaime Harrison, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

It wasn’t like elections in Virginia and New Jersey were disasters, but I still think that Democrats need to raise their game. I especially would like to see think the DNC reach out to rural Democrats in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and my home state of Kentucky. Here are a couple ideas on how National Democrats could promote Democratic messages in rural areas.

COVID. My wife is a nurse practitioner who worked in Covid units at the local Morehead hospital during the recent spike in Eastern KY. She and other rural Democrats working on the pandemic have first-hand knowledge of the harm being inflicted by Fox News, GOP politicians, and conspiracy theorists. The DNC should continuously collect these stories and use them to hammer GOP incumbents and other candidates.

EVANGELICAL RELIGION. Rural areas of Kentucky and other states are rife with sexual abuse among evangelical clergy and youth ministers. There was a scandal here in 2019 with a youth minister at the Better Life Church exposing himself to a minor. But very little information comes out about these incidents from the national media. Democrats should pound away at the abuse, the hypocrisy, and the crazed patriarchal rationalizations for sexual abuse. Rural white evangelicals are the single largest GOP voting bloc. One way to chip away at that support is to put evangelical culture on trial.

COMMUNICATION Another problem with rural white voters is that many no longer have access to Democratic perspectives. Between Fox News, private facebook groups, church, church-based schooling, and public school conservatism, the only disagreement people hear is between the Republican establishment and Christian nationalists and insurrectionaries. The Democrats would be served well by identifying local and state-level Democratic figures (musicians, writers, crafts people, athletes, etc.) who could visit rural communities and meet local people in formal and informal contexts. (book clubs, sewing circles, restaurants, bars, sports events, school assemblies, etc.). Part of what Dems need to do in rural communities is get their voice heard and this would be one way to do it.

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