Politics and Elections: The So-Called Rural Primaries

Don’t worry, urban America. The presidential candidates aren’t ignoring your issues because of the primary system. They are ignoring all the big issues.  Feel better?

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It happens every presidential election year, as sure as Monday Night Football. Somebody will whine in print that the structure of the primary season cuts out city voters and city issues.

The story is always the same: The first few primaries take place in “rural states” (that would be Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) and so the candidates ignore issues and ideas of interest and importance to cities and urban dwellers. Readers are led to believe that the whole process is unfair and practically ruins the country for the next four years.

Daniel J. McGraw writes for Next City, an online publication supported by a slew of the nation’s largest foundations: Ford, Rockefeller, Knight, MacArthur among others. Recently McGraw voiced this year’s first complaint about the overly rural nature of the campaign.

McGraw notes that the U.S. as a whole is about 20 percent rural. But, look, Iowa is 36 percent rural, and New Hampshire is 40 percent rural. So, of course, the candidates talk rural, not urban.

For example, McGraw writes, transportation is important to urban dwellers, but he hasn’t heard the candidates talk much about highways or rail.

Or, he continues, the discussion about immigration is geared toward rural audiences. “So the discussion centers more on how a rancher in southern Arizona has to deal with a few hundred people crossing his property occasionally, rather than how cities like Nashville and Indianapolis are not only trying to absorb this new foreign-born population, but to also use them to an advantage for good growth,” McGraw writes.

The argument has always been weak. Isn’t transportation a particularly rural issue? It always has been in the past. (Isn’t the real reason candidates don’t want to talk about “infrastructure” is because it doesn’t have much resonance in this hot-button political culture – and because no candidate wants to promise a splurge of new spending.)

And does McGraw really think candidates are skewing the entire immigration debate in order to cater to the 36 percent of the population in Iowa that’s rural, or to win the coveted Arizona rancher vote?

Maybe so, but we haven’t noticed that the candidates are talking about rural issues either. Nothing personal, city folks. It’s just the state of our politics.

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The Hill reports that President Obama will “complete scores of regulations” in the coming months — and many of these will affect rural people and businesses.

There are financial regulations yet to be codified, The Hill’s Lydia Wheeler reports, but also major sets of food safety rules. For example, the Agriculture Department has just established regulations covering inspection of imported catfish.

The Hill says silica dust regs are also in the offing.

We will wait to see how the Administration’s actions play in the 2016 election year.

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There are ways to save the U.S. Postal Service. Just ask, well, your neighbors.

The University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation presented the facts of the Postal Service’s business dilemma to 2,256 registered voters. The “facts” were vetted by both parties and by the postal workers union. Then the pollsters asked people what they would do to save the Postal Service, which last year lost over five billion dollars.

“The most significant recommendation, made by eight in ten participants, was to dramatically reduce the congressional requirement that the Postal Service fully prefund future retiree health benefits,” writes Steven Kull, who directs the program at Maryland. “This requirement is most responsible for the Postal Service’s budget deficits.”

And nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they would allow the Postal Service to engage in new non-postal services and products. They said the Post Office should be allowed to do money transfers or offer photocopying services.

The people said they would close as many as 5 percent of the nation’s post offices that are losing money – which is a lot, but far fewer than the 12 percent proposed by the Postal Service.

And, sorry, two thirds said they would end Saturday delivery.

 

Topics: Economy
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