Dear rural citizen: You need to vote blue

Dear resident of any place in Nebraska that isn’t Lincoln or Omaha,

How’s it going?!

Hey, whatcha think the Huskers chances are this year now that Bo has embraced his fuzzier side?

How are your crops doing? Crazy storm last week, huh? Did you get much hail?

Oh, one last thing real quick: Could you please never, ever, ever vote Republican again?

Hang on! I swear, I’m not some liberal elitist talking down to you! I was not brainwashed nor am I trying to brainwash you! And I don’t think you’re “dumb” for voting Republican! I think you’ve been manipulated and lied to by people who honestly don’t care what happens to you as much as they care what happens to their rich friends’ bank accounts. You vote for people nothing like you who swear they are JUST like you.

If you wouldn’t mind, can I have just a few minutes to tell you why you and the 64% of people in this state that live on farms or in rural communities shouldn’t vote against your own best interests? Please?

Here’s a picture of Bo Pelini and the cat again to put you in a better mood:

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Okay, so they wrote a whole book on this thing. It’s called What’s the Matter with Kansas? I mean BESIDES Jayhawk football, am I right?! Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood. In that book, Thomas Frank does a bang-up job of explaining in-depth how the GOP exploits issues like abortion, gay rights, and school prayer to get your vote. I really recommend the book, but you’re a busy person. You’ve got chores to do, kids to take to soccer games, and football to watch on the weekend.

So let me tell you how those ideas that Frank talks about apply specifically to you.

First off, you should know that I’m aware I won’t be able to persuade you to agree with the Pro-Choice way of thinking. This country is almost perfectly divided on this issue if you make it just a Pro-Live vs Pro-Choice thing. That said, one thing I want to point out that is VERY important: 78% of Americans feel that abortion should remain legal in at least some circumstances.

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That matters because, chances are good that the law is never going to change. I know how deeply it matters to you, I really do. And I know that you won’t stop fighting. That said, if you let this one issue dominate how you VOTE, not how you live, you’re basically using one issue that WON’T change to mask the issues that CAN change.

To put this another way: In the 31 years since Roe v Wade, how many times have you voted for a candidate based on abortion? And is abortion still legal?

With this country so divided on that issue, maybe what we could do is find a middle ground. HANG ON! I’m not trying to persuade you that ANY number of abortions are okay, I know your stance won’t change, remember? But there IS a middle ground! No, I’m serious!

You who are Pro-Life (as the majority of people who live in rural areas of our state are) and the Pro-Choice group actually have the same belief on something: Neither of you want women to have abortions. I know that the reasoning is different, but that doesn’t change facts. Democrats actually prevent more abortions than Republicans. I will NOT shut up! It’s true! They focus WAY more on access to contraception, on sex education, and on financial aid to the poor. They work to make sure people know how NOT to get pregnant and have access to the materials to prevent pregnancy and they work to make sure that people can afford to be parents.

Please, listen to me: The emphasis that the GOP as a party places on this issue is not because they share your concerns. It’s because they know it works. Karl Rove masterminded this tactic, convincing good people like you that the Democrats are a party of murdering heathens. We have our issues, most often extreme wussiness and arrogance…oh, and every one of our male representatives is probably out fishing for ladies with his love tackle. But we have done more to reduce abortions than Republicans have. In fact, the whole reason they try to stop contraception conversations is because they know it will take away from their abortion position. Think about it. When 99% of women aged 15-44 in America have used contraception, how does an argument against it even exist?

See, we’re not that different! The policies that we use ACTUALLY reduce what you hate. The strategy that they use (work for an all-out ban) just keeps the cycle going.

One more thing I have to tell you about before showing you why you WANT to vote for us! Climate change. It’s so very real. And here in Nebraska, it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL that you understand that.

You’ve heard it before, but let me say it again: 97% of scientists agree that we’re causing climate change. To ignore that? Well, it’d be like going to Memorial Stadium and believing that the “Visitor Section” is right.

The reason that the Republicans need you to believe them is that their really really rich friends and really really rich companies are going to have to spend a lot of money fixing what they’ve done (or, more accurately, not making what they’ve already done even worse). That’s it. They don’t want to pay for it. So they tell you that we Democrats are making this up. The newest strategy is for the GOP to concede it’s happening but that we’re exaggerating how bad it is.

But I don’t have to tell you how bad it is. You know.

You know that we’ve been in a drought for seemingly forever. You know that because your crops or your neighbor’s crops are hurting.

You know that tornadoes and storms are worse and more frequent. You know this because the town next to you lost so many buildings. 

You know how unbearably hot it’s been. You know this because it’s costing you so much to cool your home and you can’t enjoy the cabin as much as you did. 

If a party truly cared for you, it would work to prevent things that hurt the crops that are your community’s livelihood. If a party truly cared for you, they would spend the money needed to keep you safe from powerful storms. If a party truly cared about you, they’d work to reduce YOUR costs and not worry so much about CEOs having to forgo their bonuses.

So that’s the climate change issue. Now let’s talk about money. If you are an average rural Nebraskan, you make just under $25,000 a year. No wonder you hate taxes so much! That’s barely anything! And now Uncle Sam wants to take more! I totally get how the argument that Republicans make would be appealing to you. They stand up and say “Hell no, Uncle Sam! You stay outta my pockets.” But the thing is…they literally mean THEIR pockets.

The tax cuts they propose are for people who make 10 times what you make. None for you. 

The spending that they say they’ll reduce? They spend more.

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The Democrats are trying to cut YOUR taxes.

The GOP is not letting them

See what I mean? They are LYING TO YOU. They are saying “We spend less!” They don’t. They’re saying “We want to cut YOUR taxes.” They don’t, they want to cut their own.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are over here waving their hands saying “How can we help?!”

Do you need Farm Aid

Do you need insurance against flooding

Do you need help with your schools, medical facilities, infrastructure? ANYTHING?! 

And the Republicans give you nothing and tell you to thank them. One of the final ways they do this is religion. Faith is important to you, I know. And I could tell you how dangerous it is to tie the government with religion, even if it is a religion you like. Instead, let me tell you this:

The Christian faith (which most rural Nebraskans adhere to) is much more in line with Democratic values. Oh, the Republicans will tell you that abortion and gay rights mean they get to keep religion. Except, the former is not mentioned anywhere in the bible, and Jesus said nothing on the latter. What he did say, routinely and repeatedly is that we should give to the poor (welfare), help the sick (Obamacare), and not be greedy (GOP tax cuts for the wealthy).

I don’t blame you one bit for voting Red in the past. They told you exactly what you wanted to hear and then did the opposite. But don’t you think it’s time to call them out on it? Don’t you think it’s time to say “Wait just a damn minute!”

I know you gotta go, so let me recap real quick, just so I know the key points are ones you’ll remember:

  • Democrats reduce more abortions than Republicans.
  • Democrats are working to stop the climate change hurting our state.
  • Democrats are fighting for tax cuts for you, not the wealthy.
  • Democrats are more likely to give farm aid.
  • Democrats are more likely to help prevent exploitation of rural communities.
  • Democrats are fighting to improve the quality of life in rural areas.

They shouldn’t be able to manipulate you with abortion. They shouldn’t be able to lie to you about what they will or won’t do for you. At least, they shouldn’t be able to do that and have you vote for them.

I appreciate you reading this, friend. I really do. And I promise you that even if I vote blue and hope you do too, we’ll both be wearing red on Saturdays this fall.

Best wishes to you and yours,
Ryan

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