Support Farmers — Vote Democratic

Between the Franklin D. Roosevelt years and the Bill Clinton Administration, Democratic candidates actually did pretty well in the rural areas. This is because the farm economy usually does a lot better during Democratic presidencies. Some of the worst years for the farm economy were during the Reagan Administration during the 1980s.

Beginning around 2000, support for Democrats in rural areas began a sharp drop off. I would largely attribute this to the rise of the right wing media and the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. The right wing media provides the Republican Party with millions of dollars in free advertising on a daily basis in the red states and Republican candidates usually have a large financial advantage.

The combination of these factors has made it difficult for Democratic candidates to inform rural voters that they are better off under Democratic presidents. The Republican president who probably did the most damage to the rural economy was Donald Trump. The former TV reality star grew up in Manhattan and has no understanding of life in small town America.

Trump’s signature agricultural policy was his failed trade war with China that devastated farmers. In 2018, Donald Trump told us that trade wars are “good and easy to win.” How did that turn out? The final numbers are in for Trump’s failed trade war and it’s not pretty. Trump’s remarks haven’t aged well.

According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska farmers lost $943 million due to the trade war in 2019. That amount was in addition to the staggering loss of $1 billion in 2018. As a consequence of Trump’s disastrous trade war, more than 40 percent of net farm income came from federal government payments by 2020. Per the NY Times: “The breadth of the payments means that government support will account for about 40 percent of total farm income this year. If not for those subsidies, U.S. farm income would be poised to decline in 2020.”

Despite all of these sacrifices, America’s farmers got nothing from Trump’s 2020 trade deal with China. This agreement required China to purchase $200 billion of additional U.S. agricultural exports before December 31, 2021. Unfortunately, Trump’s over hyped trade deal turned out to be a miserable failure. As it turned out, China bought none of the additional $200 billion of exports that Trump promised our farmers.

Trump’s tariffs also largely wiped out the temporary and tiny tax cuts the middle class received from his failed 2017 tax cut for the rich. A CNBC analysis of data from the Treasury Department ranks the combined $72 billion in revenue from all the president’s tariffs as one of the biggest tax increases since 1993. In fact, the tariff revenue ranks as the largest increase as a percent of GDP since 1993 when compared with the first year of all the revenue measures enacted since then, according to the data.

President Biden and the Democrats in Congress inherited a nation in crisis from Trump. The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December 2020 and the Trump Administration didn’t have a plan to distribute the life saving vaccines. The Democrats rolled up their sleeves and went immediately to work to clean up Trump’s mess.

America’s farmers and rural areas have already benefited from legislation passed since Biden took office. An April 26 New York Times column by Robert Leonhard spells out the progress we’ve made since January 20, 2021:

“In under two years in office, President Biden has done more for places like Guthrie County (Iowa) and other parts of rural America than Mr. Trump ever did. The rural economy is stronger, wages are higher and infrastructure projects are popping up all over.

Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats are responsible for many of the improvements and for bringing back a sense of stability. For the midterms, they should run on these successes — the American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill. And they should run on why they have worked: Democrats should run on Democratic values.

Furthermore, many places far from cities are facing health care crises, with more than 450 rural hospitals in danger of closing. With funds from the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration program Emergency Rural Health Care Grants will award up to $43 million to benefit 2.2 million people across 22 states.”

Closer to home, $3 billion from the bi-partisan infrastructure bill will be invested in Nebraska and and a significant portion of the investments are targeted to assist rural areas. The bi-infrastructure bill is so beneficial to small towns and rural areas that even Republicans who voted against it are trying to claim credit.

We Democrats should be proud of our accomplishments. We need to message those achievements to voters in small towns and rural areas. We can’t count on the “liberal” mainstream media to do it for us. We Democrats value hard work, self reliance, faith and helping our neighbors. Those are rural values and American values.

Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “Once you build a house you always have it. On the other hand, a social or economic gain is a different matter. A social or an economic gain made by one Administration, for instance, may, and often does, evaporate into thin air under the next Administration. “

Let’s get that message out! If we can get that out, we will win in 2022! Now let’s leave it all out on the field!

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Dennis Crawford

Dennis Crawford

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I’m a trial lawyer, defender of democracy and a sports fan.