Urban Rural Divide

The American Flag, representing ALL of the 50 states
The American Flag, representing ALL of the 50 states

This election season has been one for the ages.  It’s interesting to hear all of the different reactions to the election.  I think the response of those that supported Hillary are showing us why this has happened in the first place.  There is a massive chasm between the issues and concerns in the cities and those in the rural areas.  Most of the time people that live in the urban areas don’t even think about the people that live in the country.  They certainly don’t concern themselves with those that live way out in the little towns of what most view as fly-over states.

Most of the time that lack of concern doesn’t cause any issue.  However, that lack of empathy for rural America following this election is only going to fuel the division.  Election protesters are name calling fellow Americans because they exercised their right to vote for the candidate that they felt would represent them best.  A vote for a candidate is not vouching for that person.  That vote only means that you feel like they align more with your particular interests.

I think it’s interesting to note that it’s not the party-line voters who decide an election.  It’s how the candidate does with the voters that don’t necessary align with a party.  I don’t think Clinton even tried to communicate to rural voters.  Many people that voted for Barack Obama in the prior two elections did not choose to vote for Hillary Clinton.  This says way more about her inability to connect with voters than it does about Trump supporters voting based on anything to do with race.  I don’t think anyone denies that we have an issue with racial tensions.  Americans would love to see a day when we don’t have to be concerned about race, but for most voters race wasn’t a primary issue in this election.  It seems like most media is hyper focused on calling people racists rather than solving the underlying issue.  I get that it creates conflict and headlines, but we should get above that and focus on solutions, not division.

That division is what created the result that we all saw on November 8th.  The clear majority of people living outside of densely populated areas felt like Hillary Clinton represented more division in their lives.  They voted accordingly.  The issues that were at the top of most voter’s concerns were the economy and National Security.  Trump had the edge when it came to National Security but separated himself with economics.

Many of our American cities were doing quite well economically, while our rural areas were just doing ok or not that well at all.  I heard many people say that they noticed that businesses were doing well, but they were always referring to major metropolitan areas.  Donald Trump took the time to talk with the people from the areas that weren’t booming.  He spoke to their concerns.  When I would watch mainstream media reports, they would scoff at the things he was talking about while rural voters had been waiting to hear someone talk about their struggles.  In my opinion, that’s what decided the election.  And I think it’s precisely why urbanites don’t get it.  It’s because of apathy.

What does this have to do with healthy forests?  It has to do with connecting what many of us are working on in the rural countryside with the people of urban America.  We need to look at what connects us, not ignore the struggles of others.  Could the forest products industry use the support now found in Republican-controlled House, Senate and Executive branches to push heavy-handed National Forest management policies?  I think we could potentially see that however, many of us would like to continue with collaboration.

The Vaagen log crane in Colville, Washington
The Vaagen log crane in Colville, Washington

Trust with conservation groups and community groups have led to plans to manage more of the forest than we have since Bill Clinton’s first term.  We need to stay the course and continue to use collaboration to find common ground.  I would like us to honor our commitments and protect special areas while creating economic prosperity in others.  If we can move these things forward in a non-partisan way, I am hopeful that we can enact real, meaningful change.  Meeting our shared interests, reaching common ground while creating abundance for all.  If we can do that in our nation’s forests, maybe there’s hope for the other social problems that we face.

Together we can get better while striving to make the America better.  We need to create opportunities to prosper at all economic levels and in all areas.  If we had shared economic benefit and we cared about all of America then maybe it’s possible to make our elections about the issues and not just where people live.

2 thoughts on “Urban Rural Divide”

  1. The election deepened the rural – urban divide, creating major long term problems for America. While these problems will be felt in both urban and rural areas, Rural America will experience much more serious economic impacts from the divide.
    Rural areas are declining economically across America, because they are falling behind in the information economy. In urban areas 4G service is everywhere. I have to drive an hour and a half from my ranch for cell service, with no data.
    Fiscally rural areas are becoming a giant drain on the richer urban economies. Will rich I5 democrats continue to revenue share with their poor neighbors..just maybe, but resistance is growing.
    Virtually all of the new economic growth in the west coast is happening in the cities and they will be less likely to share as resentment builds.
    Culturally values and beliefs are separating in rural and urban areas by almost every measure. Rural areas still embrace values and beliefs of the twentieth century (God, family, community, conformity) and urban areas have much more diverse values and beliefs (multi-religious, multi-ethnic, sexual promiscuity, recreational drugs, non-conformity, non- traditional relationships and families).
    UuResearch has shown that where “over – lapping schisms” exist in societies; violent conflicts are much more likely. People on each side of the divide, see people on the other side as the enemy. They demonize the enemy and hatred takes seed.
    Rural America should be more concerned about the fallout from this election than urban areas.
    While it is certainly true, that rural areas problems have been ignored by politicians, it is also true that politicians can do very little to solve the problems of Rural America.
    Rural areas will continue to decline, more old folks will live there as the kids move to cuties where the good jobs are, twenty first century values and culture will overwhelm and replace twentieth century culture. Hollywood, the news media, popular music, the Internet all insure that this will happen.
    Rural areas need to become more aware of their dependency on urban areas. The people in Rock Springs Wyoming whose votes counted four times as much as Califirnians, need to understand their economic dependency on California. Their largest retailer (Walmart), receives all of its shipments from a giant wholesale distribution center that Walmart operates near the intersection of I5 and I80. This center is linked to container operations at the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Oakland and has a UP siding to receive containers from the East Coast. The Walmart store is owned by people who live in urban areas, not rural areas. Rock Springs major export is electrical power, which has been developed by California based utilities. Virtually all of the power goes to urban areas. Wyoming gets the air pollution and urban areas get the juice.
    I recognize that many people in rural areas want their core values, beliefs and way of life to be legislated into the law of the land. There may be some shortbterm successes, but the tide of history and human progress will sweep the rest of the country into the future. A future script that is not being written in Rural America.

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