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Why I think the rural/urban divide is drivel

by Dan Burns on October 19, 2016

farmhouseOK, not entirely “drivel.” It must be acknowledged that on the whole city and country residents have tended to vote differently. (It’s been that way for a long time, though one could well get the impression from establishment punditry that the “divide” has only become really fundamental to Minnesota politics pretty recently, just as things are really starting to look demographically bleak for conservatism. Coincidence, no doubt.) But the phrase “rural/urban divide” is primarily a misleading construct being used politically, especially by corporate media, to help continue to con people into voting for conservatives.
(It actually should be “rural/metro divide.” The idea is to keep outstate residents angry at the Twin Cities metro, which supposedly gets all of the political attention and goodies, and not at places like St. Cloud and Red Wing. But since “rural/urban” has been established as the standard, albeit a (probably deliberately) misleading one, it’s what I’m using here.)
My parents grew up on farms, which stayed in the families and where close relatives still live. I’ve sometimes lived in densely populated settings, but mostly in small-town ones. I suppose that this background helps fuel my take (which, as always, is just my take, not some pretense to complete, final, and absolute truth). Which is that when you get right down to it, people – people with families in particular – pretty much have the same problems and concerns, wherever they live. And they share the same kinds of frustrations when those are not being addressed. It’s not just inner-city public school infrastructure that needs a big upgrade. And plenty of metro streets and roads also drive like something out of Wagon Train. And everyone wants good jobs, wherever they live. And so on.

What’s being shamelessly promoted is the notion that rural voters have a whole lot to be po’d at DFLers for, and that it therefore makes all the sense in the world for them to keep turning out in force for the GOP, because they’re better off when Republicans are in charge. That’s the real corporate media “message,” and it’s beyond preposterous. Which side wants to slash the government food programs on which so many rural consumers, and agricultural producers, depend? Not to mention how the Republican House majority, here and now in Minnesota, has utterly failed rural residents. The needs of country dwellers are, after all, most certainly not what the parasitical rich man’s agenda is all about, and constant squawking about the r/u divide is in large measure yet another effort to distract from that reality.

Though never voiced by proponents of the r/u divide as fundamental to Minnesota politics, there is also a condescending element to it all. Namely, playing on the stereotype of country bumpkins in the big city, terrified by the corruption and vice and longing only to get back to simple, peaceful life out in the boonies, where right is right and wrong is wrong and there ain’t no in between. It’s, uh, not like that. “Country bumpkins” know full well that it’s not really so simple, either.
I really recommend that progressives not buy into this “divide” crap. If you do, you’re playing their game. The way that Minnesota’s corporate media has been enabling right-wing politicians on this should raise a plethora of bright red flags for any progressive. Their corporate, exploitative agenda has little to do with our thinking, humane one.
One very important thing that is the same whether you live in the city or the country, or wherever in between, is what is needed politically. Which is a lot more progressives in public office.
In the foregoing, I have proved that the r/u divide is BS. But corporate media isn’t going to pay any attention to me. Among other things, a newfound emphasis on fact and reason could cost them money.

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