A new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of rural Americans confirms several things that I have long believed to be the case: (i) rural Americans tend to be much more racist than urban residents, (ii) even though they are the largest recipients of federal safety net spending, they think those who are "other" are the ones living off the dole, and (iii) rural Americans believe "Christian values" are under attack because there are more restrictions on their ability to persecute others. Again, rural red states - especially those with white populations - receive far more federal funding that they contribute to Washington and they contribute far less to the national budget than the large cities and blue states that are the economic engines for the nation's economy. One can only assume these people get their "news" from Fox News, Breitbart, or their right wing "Christian" pastors. It would almost be funny that these people who are the largest drain per capita on the federal government think minorities are the ones playing the system if it did not disclose an insidious deep seated racism that unfortunately goes hand in hand with much of rural America and conservative Christianity. Here are highlights from the Washington Post:
The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.
The results highlight the growing political divisions between rural and urban Americans. While urban counties favored Hillary Clinton by 32 percentage points in the 2016 election, rural and small-town voters backed Trump by a 26-point margin, significantly wider than GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s 16 points four years earlier.
But popular explanations of the rural-urban divide appear to overstate the influence of declining economic outcomes in driving rural America’s support for Trump. The survey responses, along with follow-up interviews and focus groups in rural Ohio, bring into view a portrait of a split that is tied more to social identity than to economic experience.
“Being from a rural area, everyone looks out for each other,” said Ryan Lawson, who grew up in northern Wisconsin. “People, in my experience, in cities are not as compassionate toward their neighbor as people in rural parts.”
In the poll, rural Americans express widespread concerns about the lack of jobs in their communities. Two-thirds of rural residents rate local job opportunities as fair or poor, compared with about half of urban residents. Nearly 6 in 10 rural residents say they would encourage young people in their community to leave for more opportunity elsewhere.
Rural areas have experienced a weak recovery from the Great Recession, with the total number of jobs down 128,000 from pre-recession levels. Suburban and urban counties have each gained about 3 million jobs, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Rural Americans express far more concern about jobs in their communities, but the poll finds that those concerns have little connection to support for Trump, a frequent theory to explain his rise in 2016. Economic troubles also show little relation to the feeling that urban residents have different values.
Rural voters who lament their community’s job prospects report supporting Trump by 14 percentage points more than Clinton, but Trump’s support was about twice that margin — 30 points — among voters who say their community’s job opportunities are excellent or good. Trump also earned about the same level of support from those who say they don’t worry about paying their bills as those who couldn’t pay their bills at some point in the past year.
Most rural residents say they think key elements of Trump’s economic agenda would help their local economy. Large majorities of rural residents say infrastructure investments, better trade deals, a crackdown on undocumented immigrant workers, lower business taxes and deregulation are “very” or “somewhat” important to boosting jobs in their communities.
The largest fissures between Americans living in large cities and those in less-dense areas are rooted in misgivings about the country’s changing demographics and resentment about perceived biases in federal assistance, according to the poll.
Rural residents are nearly three times as likely (42 percent) as people in cities (16 percent) to say that immigrants are a burden on the country.
“They’re not paying taxes like Americans are. They’re getting stuff handed to them,” said Larry E. Redding, a retired canning factory employee in Arendtsville, Pa. “Free rent, and they’re driving better vehicles than I’m driving and everything else.”
The poll reveals that perceptions about abuse of government benefits often go hand in hand with views about race.
When asked which is more common — that government help tends to go to irresponsible people who do not deserve it or that it doesn’t reach people in need — rural Americans are more likely than others to say they think people are abusing the system. And across all areas, those who believe irresponsible people get undeserved government benefits are more likely than others to think that racial minorities receive unfair privileges.
That sense of division is closely connected to the belief among rural Americans that Christian values are under siege. Nearly 6 in 10 people in rural areas say Christian values are under attack, compared with just over half of suburbanites and fewer than half of urbanites. When personal politics is taken into account, the divide among rural residents is even larger: 78 percent of rural Republicans say Christian values are under attack, while 45 percent of rural Democrats do.
The other irony, of course is that it is rural America's racism and religious based bigotry that prevents new and progressive businesses from locating to their areas. Until they let go of their 1950's beliefs, they will be increasingly fall by the wayside and continue their downward social and economic death spirals. I'm sorry, but I find it hard to have sympathy for these people. With the Internet and other avenues to access truthful information, they have chosen to embrace ignorance.