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Political understanding: rural resentment and the 2016 election

Political understanding: rural resentment and the 2016 election

At 10:12 p.m. on Election Night last November University of Wisconsin political scientist Katherine J. Cramer started getting emails from New York Times political reporters, she told an audience at the University of Minnesota on Monday. The emails said things like: “We think we missed something [in their campaign coverage.] Can we talk to you?”

The Times, like most of the punditocracy, was caught off guard by the election results, especially in the three states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – that the smart set had taken to describing as “the blue wall” that would block Donald Trump from winning the Electoral College.

They were wrong, and the rest is history or tragedy or farce (we’ll eventually find out which). Wisconsin, which had been carried by the Democratic ticket in the previous seven presidential elections, had gone red. Trump knocked down the wall, and won the presidency, with lopsided margins in rural areas of Wisconsin and many other states.

Somehow, (in case you hadn’t heard) Trump, a foul-mouthed lawsuit-happy New York billionaire who has little knowledge of rural areas, won the election by carrying 62 percent of the votes in small towns and rural areas, while Hillary Clinton dominated in urban areas. Understanding the attraction of rural Americans to Trump is vital to understanding what happened last November.

A few months before she started getting those New York Times emails, Kramer had published a book called “The Politics of Resentment, Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the rise of Scott Walker.” The book studied the anger of rural Wisconsinites against the liberal establishment. Her book was about Wisconsin, our neighbor to the east and a state that has often seemed a lot like Minnesota, including in its progressive political traditions.

“Politics of Resentment” wasn’t about Trump. It focused on the rise of the small-government, anti-union conservative Wisconsin politician Scott Walker who, in 2010 surprised the world by winning the governorship of the Badger State, and then by surviving an attempt to remove him by recall election.

Walker’s rise had benefited from the resentment rural Wisconsin voters felt toward the big cities of Madison and Milwaukee, which they felt dominated state politics and took far more than their share of the spoils of government. They had responded by punishing the liberal elite and electing Walker governor.

As the New York Times suddenly realized on Election Night, rural resentment against the urban elite might explain more than Wisconsin electing Scott Walker in 2012, and might be happening in a lot more places and might, somehow, have been harnessed by the aforementioned foul-mouthed billionaire who had connected with the resentment of rural voters.

Katherine J. Cramer
Katherine J. Cramer

Cramer, whose specialty is called “political understanding,” had started in 2007 – when the idea of Donald Trump as president was not on the radar screen — going to places around rural Wisconsin where people gather to talk.

She would insinuate herself into these gatherings and try to get people talking about politics. And she was still doing it in 2012 when her book, based on those conversations, told of rural Badger Staters who felt mistreated, overlooked, disrespected and condescended to by the liberal Democrats in the big cities.

The book came out in early 2016, a year in which Walker himself sought the Republican presidential nomination, which may have given “The Politics of Resentment” a certain cachet while Walker was in the race and was briefly thought of as possible serious contender for the GOP nomination. Then Trump happened, and blew Walker and a jillion other GOP wannabes out of the nomination battle. But the idea of a rural “politics of resentment” was bigger than ever.

Cramer’s book and her talk yesterday said that rural Wisconsinites felt that the city dwellers and the government that they dominate do not give rural people “the attention, the resources or the respect” that they deserve, and that rural areas get less than their fair share of government help, and that poverty and various social ills are worse in rural areas than in metro areas.

There is an element of race in the resentment. Trump’s campaign themes about building a wall to keep out undocumented Latin immigrants, about big cities becoming war zones for gangs, his promise to “drain the swamp,” all connected with the grievances white rural voters felt. The slogan “Make America Great Again” tapped into rural voters’ nostalgia for a happier past, when they felt more secure and prosperous and respected.

Cramer, under questioning from Larry Jacobs of the U of M’s Center for the Study of Politics and Government, later said that these beliefs are not founded on facts (there’s plenty of poverty and social ills in metro areas), but she said the belief is deeply felt and those feelings feed the political resentment.

The reality, she said, is that a small slice of wealthy and well-connected Americans are best able to get the government to attend to their wants and needs. The poor and powerless in both the rural and urban areas are grossly neglected by comparison. But the rural voters she studied are convinced that the maldistribution of government attention and aid favors the urban areas in general as against the rural areas in general. The rural people she talked to feel they are losing ground, Cramer said. They feel that whoever is in charge doesn’t know them or respect them or care about their challenges.  

Cramer’s conversation in rural Wisconsin also led her to reject the idea that these rural Republicans are voting primarily on social issues, like gay rights or abortion. In her conversations with them, the rural folks were always emphasizing economic issues, like jobs and infrastructure.

Jacobs also asked her whether Trump and Republicans more generally will be punished by these voters if economic conditions don’t improve in rural areas. She said no. It’s a mistake to focus on policy positions or even achievements in office, she said.

“Trump will be judged primarily on identity, not on the number of jobs he creates, because I think it’s primarily the identity stuff that got him elected,” she said. “When I’m asking people what are you hopeful about? What kind of results do you expect to see? The answer I get is ‘ Well, nothing’s going to change around here, but at least [Trump]’s gonna stop giving all that money to people who don’t deserve it.”

Although Cramer was cautious on this topic, and said her conclusion are preliminary, I take it that by “identity,” she meant racial and ethnic identity, and perhaps another kind of identity that separates rural and urbans folks generally.

This “identity” piece is so large and central to politics, she said, that it’s a mistake for political observers to believe that politicians will be judged according to the issue positions they take while campaigning, or the results they deliver in office. 

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Comments (138)

" to people who don't deserve it."

Did anyone in the audience follow up on this asking what happens if the "people who don't deserve it" turn out in significant numbers to be these rural Trump voters?

Well written

I've been living in Paul Ryan's CD for 3 years and I've never been in a place so completely written off by the Democratic party.

With the exception of Harley riding Trump supporters I encountered while getting candidate petition signatures Memorial Day weekend, every Trump supporter I talked to was OK with Bernie. The opposition to Bernie's message in WI came from Hillary Clinton supporters, not Republicans.

Wisconsin is ripe for the taking. All you have to do is promise to fix the real economy.

How about Minnesota?

"Wisconsin is ripe for the taking. All you have to do is promise to fix the real economy."

Would you say the same comment applies to Minnesota, and if not, why not?

I'd agree that it applies to Minnesota

our biggest problem is the state house, and if we win back some of those seats they'd be rural most likely

MN is a lot tougher

Best bet for DFL would be to let their folks know that bashing rural folks is a loser strategy being pursued by those who still haven't processed last November's election.

Yes, Republicans in the lege and news are remarkably rude. On some topics, like abortion or cycling, they are eliminationist jerks. That doesn't mean their base supports their jerkiness. But DFLers don't know that because they'd rather fight over safe seats than spend money trying to win seats in red counties.

I only know IA, WI and MN, but all three states Democratic parties are being jerked around by last fall's sore losers. The strategies I'm seeing (yell at Trump 24/7) do not seem to be working. Kabuki protests (white card players, sit-ins in the well of the US House, etc.) only stiffen the resistance to the Democratic agenda.

(Pro tip: if you work for someone and they lose, get drunk for a week. If you aren't over it when you sober up, maybe you were working for a cult, not a campaign.)

Excellent Tip

Sometimes I think that the Far Right and the Far Left are behaving more and more like cults...


If Bernie had been the nominee, the Republican opposition to his message would have come and would have come hard. He would have been crushed, even though - like Trump - he was selling a fantasy instead of telling the truth.


You are mistaken. Rural progressives like myself have been out here FIGHTING for a very long time. We know what we're doing. It's only establishment Democrats that are trying to shift to the right that don't want bold progressive economic solutions to happen. Out here, Bernie's message resonated. Trump would still likely have won most of rural America, but instead of 2:1 or 3:1 it would have been much, much closer.


The idea that rural areas are going to elect Sanders-type progressives is a fantasy. The rural Democrats who have held on aren't progressives - they are the Blue Dogs and the most conservative members of congress and state legislatures. You can blame "the establishment" until you are blue in the face, but since rural Democrats are the ones who keep losing, maybe you actually don't know what you are doing.

If Sanders seemed to resonate, it's because -like Trump - he told people what they wanted to hear instead of the truth. When Sanders "bold progressive economic solutions" actually got some scrutiny, that support would melt away. Most Americans say they support single payer healthcare, but when it was put on the ballot in Colorado and the costs became clear, voters overwhelmingly rejected it. Throw in all of Sanders personal baggage, and it's a recipe to lose 48 or 49 states.

Interesting take

I grew up in rural Iowa, have been living in Paul Ryan's rural CD the last few years, and am about to move to rural MN.

I have yet to see a mainstream Democratic analysis of a rural area that didn't reek of elitist arrogance. As in a city, the people who most stand out are often the least representative. And even in a district as red as Ryan's, Dems usually make up at least 35% of the vote, often more.

Had the Dem candidate who got no support from the party gotten just 30% of the vote against Ryan, HILLARY CLINTON WOULD HAVE WON the state easily. But the DCCC and DNC abandoned WI 1CD, and the barely a Democrat Democratic candidate only got 15% of the vote.

Abandoning rural areas all but guarantees Republican majorities in Congress. Blue Dogs are NOT the answer. Bernie supporters are best for these races because they heighten the contradictions at a time when most average Americans feel betrayed by their government.

a few observations

that maybe all tie in to the theme...

people I talk to are sick and tired of political correctness and identity politics, it is insulting.

Was stunned when I talked to farmers in Wisconsin who said they would vote for Trump when they and their kids and grand kids had voted for democrats for generations.(they said it quietly though so no one would hear).

Non Government workers in Wisc never could understand why they paid extra out of their pocket so their neighbor with a government job could have above market pay and lavish benefits, thus Walker won the recall. It was fair to middle class taxpayers that Act 10 was passed. I have family who have been homeowners in Wisc for 30+ years and they say their property taxes have stayed the same year to year, or gone down for the first time ever.Dem national hysteria favored the unions though, not the middle class.

The factory my Dad worked at for 40+ years closed 20 years ago(thankfully he had just retired). My parents raised 6 kids on his income, good house, private school, one decent car. That factory and those jobs have never been replaced. There is no way the generations behind our greatest one can afford to raise a family as a factory worker. We can all argue whose fault it it, it's complicated, but Trump spoke to those folks.

I don't get it

Republicans worked for decades to crush private sector unions, and as a result wages have stagnated and benefits have shrunk. Rather than trying to find a way to change this, Walker and Republicans convinced people to do the same to government workers too. Now everyone is doing worse. Well, not everyone. Just working people. Congratulations.

I guess Trump did speak to rural voters, or at least they listened to him. And the polcies he has proposed are going to absolutely screw them over. Trump isn't bringing those factory jobs back.

To Sum It Up

I lost my pension, so I want to take away yours.

How about, "You've got a pension?! Tell me how I can get one too."


How about, “You’ve got a job, how can I have one?”

It's from the Work Climate

Yes, Republicans have been against unions. But most of the manufacturing jobs have been in strongholds of Democrats. Add to it the constant push for more and more punishing regulations by these same Democrats at their state and national level, you really have to look at the big picture. You even had Hilary stating that she wanted to end the coal industry.
When you have a group of people making it harder and more costly for companies to do business, layoffs and closings happen. Then people are let go...including hard working union members. Then who is to blame?
If you want wage increases, make the environment good for companies. I've never heard of Democrats ever wanting that to happen.

Fact Check

While it is true that the average government wage/salary is higher than the average for private industry, that's not comparing apples with apples.

Public employees are more likely than private sector employees to have a college education. the correct comparison would be, for example, private sector accountants to public sector accountants. And within the same occupation, the wage/benefit package for the private sector is higher than that of the public sector. As a private sector electrician, I make more than if i worked for the State of MN.

Further, economics does not stop at the door of city hall. Higher wages attract a larger pool of applicants, allowing employers to hire more productive employees. I've have seen first hand how non-union electrical contractors become much more efficient when they begin to hire union electricians.

The public schools of Wisconsin are experiencing an exodus of teachers, and UW Madison's highly sough after teachers program has seen the number of applicants shrink. Who wants to pay for a 4 year degree for subsistence level wages? And when soon we will hear how "Wisconsin's public schools are failing so we need to bring in corporate for profit charters."

oh please

subsistence level wages?? first, when I talked about the neighbor getting more, that assumed it was for comparable education, training and experience, so the part about education is faux...

higher levels of gov. wages just skim off talented people from the private sector for no reason.


Examples please?
Seems Private sector on average pays significantly higher:

Once you control for education and experience

government workers (such as teachers) are not paid any more than people with comparable backgrounds in the private sector.
And factory jobs will never be replaced, by Trump or by anyone else. The economy has changed, and automation accounts for much more production than it did a generation or two ago. That's where jobs like your father's went.

case in point

it you used to be liberal democrats who complained about automation and the loss of good jobs, now when convenient the times have changed and move on for crying out loud...

teachers were a part of the gov job equation, most State workers are not teachers...

Those Darn Liberals!

"it you used to be liberal democrats who complained about automation and the loss of good jobs, now when convenient the times have changed and move on for crying out loud..."

Who is not complaining? Perhaps what those "liberal democrats" are really saying is that the old days aren't coming back. The high-paying jobs in manufacturing are gone, gone, gone. There is no point in pretending we can get them back, and anyone who thinks we can pull a rabbit out of our magic (made in China) hat to restore the old days is delusional.

People need to be prepared and trained for the jobs that exist, not the job that Dad got when he came home from Korea. So yes, remember the working class, but let's also move on and acknowledge the times we live in.

The factory your Dad worked at for 40+ years

I'm prepared to bet that your Dad's factory was unionized.

The non-government employees in Wisconsin would do well to ask themselves why they deprived themselves of collective bargaining rights. Did they think they were going to keep jobs with good pay and benefits because--what? Their bosses were enlightened enough to realize the mutual dependency? Perhaps they swallowed the "individual freedom" malarkey pushed by free-marketeers, many of whom could well believe that workers have equal bargaining power with their employers. Maybe they really did think it was morning in America, and if we unleashed capitalism, it would be all be private bliss and public wealth.

We can blame globalization, we can blame technological shifts, we can blame snooty urban liberals, but the rural worker who shot--and continues to shoot--himself in the foot bears a goodly part of the blame.

You are all missing the point

These people aren't thinking at all. They've quit, they've decided that there is no hope for the future and that anyone who tells them that isn't the case is a liar who "doesn't care about their problems". Its not that they even want solutions, that would require pulling themselves out of the pit of communal depression, they just want to make all the people they despise hurt as badly as they do. It nihilism, and I'm not sure its fixable.

Matt - I agree with you, nihilism is the word.

But at the risk of my oversimplifying your thinking, your comment suggests that nihilism arises directly from economic hopelessness.

I think it is deeper. I’d conjecture that it is part of the human condition to be born with existential terror: first, “I exist,” followed closely thereon by “all that is not me is vast and inexplicable.” We want to put our arms over our eyes and “make it all go away.” More concretely and just a step above, we form our clan, nervously patrol our perimeter and postulate a god that matches the scale of the universe and watches over us.

The healthy personality sublimates this terror. It works always to broaden the “clan” and actively seeks to understand the universe and manage the risks it poses. The healthy society seeks to foster this development among its citizens, and calls it democracy.

Beginning with the Southern Strategy, the Republican party adopted the electoral strategy not of helping citizens to sublimate and supersede this terror, and hence build a stronger democracy, but conversely of cultivating the terror. Keeping the clan narrow, cultivating fear of the “other,” maintaining existential anxiety through economic parlousness, and describing a foreign and hostile universe that cannot be understood. Folks who are susceptible to this appeal and unable to escape the bonds of their existential terror do not support democracy, they support authoritarian rule that will protect them from the need to exercise their own agency to interrogate, understand and manage the universe that confronts them. And what always lies at the core of the authoritarian inclination is the desire to “make it all go away.”

This hypothesis, in summary, is that as the result of an intentional electoral strategy carried out over five decades by one of our major parties, a substantial minority of the citizenry now neither wants a democracy nor is prepared to carry out its obligations within one. And further, that as a result of this electoral strategy, just under the surface of our society lies a nihilism carried collectively by a third of the people . Among other things, we can attribute to this collective nihilism the complete absence of will over the past 25 years to rearrange our economic life or adjust our personal choices to confront the existential threat of climate change.

Oh, I would never claim that it has formed in a vacuum

Only that's it's real, and persistent. Those of us who have left the sorts of areas described in the piece can see it every time we return. People we once could have pleasant conversation with, turned to ranting curmudgeons. Once vibrant small town centers, vacant and run down. I wonder if a piece of it is the recognition (albeit subconsciously) that these folks really did it to themselves, speaking of the rural agricultural areas at least. They bought into the snake oil of agribusiness, that gutting the family farm system in the name of efficiency was going to somehow invigorate small town America. I wonder how much of the vitriol is self-loathing, predictably deflected onto folks easy to get "the folks" to hate.

Another one

Here is another hypothesis: “as the result of an intentional electoral strategy carried out over five decades by one of our major parties, a substantial minority of the citizenry now” doesn’t want to work and expects to get free stuff from the government. If they don’t get it, they vote for those who give them more. At lease a substantial minority in your hypothesis wants to work, as Ms. Carter pointed out.

An hypothesis

is a conjecture, not an entity. Do you mean "According to your hypothesis, a substantial minority...."?
So it is your conjecture (fancy word for guess) that a minority of the part of the population that is employable does not want to work.
You seem to be stating it both ways.
And what is a 'substantial' minority: 10%? 20%? 40%?

I thought...

I thought liberal idea is want to help all those who suffer, even if they are not thinking or even if they are bad….

We do

Sort of hard when said people continue to vote into office those who aim to hurt them, along with those they despise.


"According to the Census ACS 1-year survey, the median household income for Wisconsin was $55,638 in 2015. Compared to the median US household income, Wisconsin median household income is $137 lower."

"According to the Census ACS 1-year survey, the median household income for Minnesota was $63,488 in 2015. Compared to the median US household income, Minnesota median household income is $7,713 higher."

For anyone interested in a more in-depth look at that, there's a pretty good economic comparison of Minnesota and Wisconsin put together by Paul Tosto on the MPR News Cuts blog that looks at several "key indicators" that show, as he put it, "Minnesota’s economy outperforms Wisconsin’s economy. The trends have accelerated since the end of the Great Recession. Economically, Minnesota continues to pull away from the Badger State."

It won't make any difference, I know, but my advice is everyone (especially ticked off rural folks who "believe" and "feel" they're being cheated by metro area evil doers) ought to stop listening to and believing today's "conservative Republicans" because, in a nutshell, they have no idea of what they're talking about and, because of that, find it sooooo much easier (and politically productive) to tell everyone lie after lie that winds up costing us all that money they keep saying metro Democrats are stealing.

Or you can keep voting for them, give them total control of government, get some popcorn or a few bags of chips, something to drink, sit back, get comfy and watch your income and buying power stand still or decline while you're waiting for them to deliver on whatever it was they promised you to get your vote.

Wisconsin: $55,638

Minnesota: $63,488

Another take

From the same website: One year change: MN +3.15%, WI +5.61%; three year change: MN +4.40%, WI +5.56%. If we consider that Wisconsin had had a Democratic governor since 2003 until 2011 while Minnesota had a Republican governor during exactly the same years, we can conclude that Wisconsin’s problems of lower income were created by its Democratic governor while Minnesota’s high income was created by its Republican governor and when the situation reversed, Wisconsin grew faster than Minnesota.


You need to go back farther than 3 years. All that data means is that Minnesota came out of the recession at lot sooner than Wisconsin did.

You also need to look at the national numbers, where is was Bush and Republican policies leaving the country in a recession, and Obama restoring growth.

Playing with percentages

3% of 60,000 is larger than 3% of 50,000. Would you rather have a larger percentage increase or a larger actual increase?

lack context

wow, how incredibly over simplified just comparing those two numbers.,,some how you omit millions of other factors (like cost of living and centuries of economic history and foundations of the two economies, natural resources, geography..etc etc) to say some how big GOV is responsible for Minnesotans having higher earnings (without any other relevant facts or context). When I moved here I needed a large salary increase just to keep the same style of living I had back there. try again...

Details, omissions & a little context

To begin at the end . . .

P.S. Apologies to whoever's moderating these comments. I really was trying to keep it brief in my original comment but this seems to have been one of those cases in which that just wasn't good enough "to be deemed legitimate."

Before I forget, I didn't say "Big Government" was responsible for anything. I merely pointed out that, for whatever reasons, Minnesota's median income is substantially higher than Wisconsin's and that, in my opinion, people would be better off not listening to or voting for anyone who claims to be a strong supporter of the "conservative Republican economic theory" which, it just so happens, is the dominate political reality in Wisconsin.

You can extrapolate that into me saying "Big Government rules!" and argue about whether or not MN has a higher median income than WI if you want to, but that definitely appears to be the $7,000 fact of the matter (so, other than ideological miffedness, why would you?).

But enough hair splitting.

I was trying to keep it brief so I said for those interested in more detail, one place to look is that "News Cuts" piece. And that's just one, mostly random, example of the many MN/WI economic comparisons available. There are any number of them "out there." The "detail" is endless and, as we see all the time, subject to all variety of "partisan interpretation" (Hi, Ilya).

And, as also mentioned elsewhere, the Bigger Picture net result detail of the dominance of the "contemporary conservative economic theory" that has made its way into implemented reality over the past 30+ years is 10% of the American people possessing 77% of America's net worth (approximately 32,000,000 people) and the other 90% of Americans (280,000,000 to 290,000,000) dividing up (working long hours for and fighting over) the remaining 23% of that net worth.

So I don't know. Maybe you think it's wise to continue to advocate and vote for the continued pursuit, implementation, strengthening of that economic theory, but I'm not so sure that's a good idea.

I'm not saying there isn't room for genuine compromise or honest looking for more efficient ways of doing things but, given the "current political climate" and the blind allegiance to the "conservative" idea that there's no legitimacy to any other approach than lower taxes, across the board cuts to non-military spending and deregulation (regardless of consequences) that, unfortunately, doesn't look possible right now (as we're seeing in the MN legislature this year).

To me, that approach (to anything having to do with "fiscal management") is not smart and, when adopted, leads to things that make the quality of more people's life worse than it makes better.

If you, by chance, moved here in 2001 or 2002 and experienced life in Minnesota for the following 10 or 12 years, you may have a more tangible frame of reference for what I mean by that. Under the dominance of the no compromise conservative approach, Minnesota went from having a healthy surplus at the end of the 1990s to facing nothing but unhealthy (extra-expensive) deficits that culminated in a $6+ billion deficit going into the 2011-2012 biennium.

On the way to that milestone all kinds of difficult to repair damage was done. The list is long (and I could converse with you all day and night about it) but one of the major disasters I always think of when it comes to real world proof in the pudding is what the "no tax increases, spending cuts only" approach did to the cost of higher education for Minnesota's young people.

Prior to Tim Pawlenty's election the cost of one year's education at the university of Minnesota was $5,000. It had taken 42 years for it to reach that level (starting at under $300 per year in 1960).

After 10 short years of conservative, "Not a penny more!/Spending cuts only!" policy dominance, that cost had increased to more than $12,000 per year and anyone who needed to rely on student loans to get that education graduated an average of $31,000+ in debt.

"Welcome to adult life."

Under "the old policies," the cost of a four-year U of M education -- something most people seem to agree is key to most people's life-long financial success (and, incidentally, a state's long-term prosperity) -- was held to $20,000 and less from 1960 to 2002.

But, in the name of tax cuts and defunding of government, that cost rose to just under $50,000 between 2003 and 2012.

So there's one specific "detail" that, to me, tends to auger against the notion that the key to growth and prosperity for all is cutting taxes cuts and government spending.

Perhaps you could explain why I'm mistaken about that one. Maybe you could explain why increasing the cost of higher education for a state's young people by 150% in ten years is good for anyone (besides the "debt-holders").

Better yet, maybe you could explain it to young Minnesotans who are now saddled with all that early-20s debt. Maybe you could tell them how that is actually a GOOD thing and how it's helping them when it comes to their decision making process related to (overall economy-driving) things like marriage, "family creation," car and home-ownership, young entrepreneurial business investment, etc..

If you'd like to get into any of the other (MN-related) details I omitted, just let me know. We could go back and forth on the 8%, 9%, 10% year-on-year property tax increases Minnesotans were paying between 2003 and 2013. We could talk about the cuts to local government aid, the "borrowing" from the K-12 part of the education system and the interest school systems (tax payers) had to pay on the loans they needed to take out because of that "borrowing." We could talk about the unemployment rate, the record rate of home foreclosures and bankruptcies and any number of similar "details."

Or we could talk about how, after leaving the Governorship and after his short-lived run for president, Tim Pawlenty went to work as the President and CEO of the "Financial Services Round Table," that industry's premiere lobbying organization in Washington. A job for which he has been paid between $1.5 and $2 million per year for the last four or five years which, of course, indicates that the Financial Services Industry thought highly of the work he had done in Minnesota (see: student loans and K-12 borrowing) and also tends to indicate they thought he could be effective in providing the guidance people in Congress might find useful in implementing the same kind of policies in their states and the nation as a whole.

It's also interesting that -- believing what you appear to believe about what I imagine you'd call the terrible, or at least misguided and counterproductive, state of Minnesota's approach to "net cost of living policies and procedures" -- you decided to move here in the first place and, apparently, have continued to choose to stay.

You said you needed a big salary increase just to stay even. Apparently, some Minnesota business was able to afford to give it to you. So, worst case would seem to be your move was "a financial wash" and that there MUST be something about Minnesota you like well enough to remain, rather than heading back "there" (don't know where that is -- you didn't say, or I missed it, no big thing).

Not that I think you made a mistake or that "you should go back to where you came from." Not at all. I just always find it curious that so many of those most critical of Minnesota's "traditional progressive inclinations" haven't moved to states like Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota or, to be REALLY free to live and revel in the conservative lifestyle, states like Alabama, Mississippi or South Carolina.

Maybe you could shed a little light on that "detail." I don't mean that in an antagonistic or "passive-aggressive" way (I don't think); I actually always have been curious as to why that is.

Anyway . . . Hope that helps clear up at least a couple of the things I omitted.

Oh. Wait. Almost forgot . . . The one "detail" related to all this that I wanted to be sure to highlight is, no matter what anyone thinks of Mark Dayton and Democrats in general, what they did in 2013 and 2014 when they controlled the House and Senate DID get rid of those endless deficits, increasing property taxes, etc. (cleaned up most of the incredible and very real mess).

AND whether people think having a little extra money in the bank is a good or bad thing, it should be noted that, as Mark Dayton keeps saying, Minnesota is now operating on a sound and solid ("structural") financial basis and has been since that time.

But, as you may have noticed (and may be yourself), MN Republicans seem to be totally outraged about that and are now passing bill after bill that appear to be designed to undermine that structural stability as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to "get back to what works" (see above).

$900 million (Senate) to $1.3 billion (House) tax cut.

$868 million taxpayer payment to the health insurance industry in exchange for nothing in particular other than "the hope" that the insurance industry will do us the great favor of offering mostly non-affordable insurance policies to those unfortunate enough to be trapped in the (insurance industry-created) "individual market."

(Apparently, people like farmers, small business owners and their employees and self-employed people are more of a "health risk" than people who work for larger MN companies who provide their employees with much more affordable "employer market" health insurance coverage. Or something like that. I don't really understand the difference between the "individual" and "employer" markets or "pools" when it comes to viewing things on a true "cost of health care per individual basis," but that's another "detail" and story.)

And, at the same time, to help pay for that transfer of taxpayer's money to the insurance industry MN Republicans have passed a bill that cuts $300 million from MN Health and Human Services' budget (that would negatively impact the health and well-being of thousands of lower-income Minnesotans -- instate and out -- if passed).

And then there are the across the board, blind, some would say "mindless," percentage-based budget cuts to Minnesota Management and Budget (the 220 people responsible for, among several other key things, managing and maintaining the state's $42+ billion budget in that structurally sound way the Gov's always talking about); along with the same treatment for the State Auditor's Office (taxpayer money oversight) and other state agencies that come under the heading of "Government Operations" and "jurisdiction" of the (financial rocket scientist) legislators assigned to that committee.

Okay . . . Excuse me. Slipping off into other "details" that, to some of us who live here, seem to reflect a beyond absurd fiscal incoherence and incompetence that is predicated on nothing more substantial than an undying belief in that "contemporary conservative Republican economic theory."

Some of us who live here think going down that road again would guarantee a return to an equally destructive version of most, if not all, of the details mentioned above (as well as many of the others omitted here).

A big picture

“Before I forget, I didn't say "Big Government" was responsible for anything. I merely pointed out that, for whatever reasons, Minnesota's median income is substantially higher than Wisconsin's and that, in my opinion, people would be better off not listening to or voting for anyone who claims to be a strong supporter of the "conservative Republican economic theory" which, it just so happens, is the dominate political reality in Wisconsin.” You obviously implied that it is the big government, which Republicans are against, that makes for $7,000 difference; otherwise, if it is, for example, a longer distance from the Great Lakes, why did you even bother to talk about those numbers. But you never responded to my post about other numbers…which were just numbers without any partisanship…

You are talking about surplus and deficit as if Minnesota exists in a vacuum. The entire country had a downturn in 2008 so no wonder Minnesota followed the trend which was most likely more important than who was the governor. And was Minnesota the only State where tuitions went up or it happened in other states, too? And of course many people should not go to college anyway… in which case they will not have a big debt. On the other hand, I doubt that engineers and computer programmers have trouble paying their college debts even if they have one. The fact is, you may talk about how Pawlenty “spoiled” Minnesota but look at Illinois where Democrats have been at power forever…. And speaking about people not wanting to leave Minnesota, it has had negative migration for a long time… On the other hand, I like Minnesota and think it is one of the best states in the nation… but not because of the government.

Anyway, it is obvious that having zero taxes and no government is bad and it is equally obvious that taking everything from people and having total government control is equally bad. Therefore, logically, there should be a point in between which is the best for that particular place and that particular time. This should be negotiable but if you think conservatives always want to reduce taxes and cut spending, I am sure many people think, with plenty of justification, that liberals always want to increase taxes and spend more…

The moral? Let's stop incriminating each other and start talking.

Maybe 8 years of neglect by the

Obama administration hurt the Dems in rural areas? Maybe when you questioned whether we could trust the Russians in removing poisonous gas from Syria and were called a racist in 2013, that bothered us? Not buying the CBO's projections on Obamacare got you called a denier (currently double what CBO said and climbing) didn't sit well either. The list is endless and the results are over 1,000 seats, Governorships and Whitehouse going GOP over Obama's 8 years.

Most of that change happened before 2016 but main stream media missed it. Another shocker!!

Maybe,Maybe Not

How are we supposed to regard the rural voters who take what appear to be years of miscellaneous resentment and translate that into votes for candidates who are not going to help them; in fact, who probably will just make things worse?

Did disagreements about our stance towards Syria really loom that large in rural areas? Were voters anywhere in the country (rural or urban) sufficiently informed to make a critique of CBO projections? Was it policy, or was it attitude?

If main stream media missed it, how does anyone know it really happened?

Opinion Vs. Facts

Mr. Smith, you are entitled to your own set of opinions, but not your own set of facts.

When the initial Obamacare rates came out, they were well below CBO estimates.

Each year, the rates have risen closer to what the CBO has estimated, and are will be very close in 2018.

The private insurers had to estimate what the new market would cost them. This is the way markets work. Players enter the market, and make educated guesses as to their expenses and income. Some decide they can't make it and drop out. Remaining players adjust their rates accordingly, and the market's pricing mechanism gets better each year with more experience. Again, this is the way markets work. Remember, contrary to what you hear on Faux News, the government did not take over healthcare. We still have private insurers. Unfortunately.


That article is over two years old, MN has had monster rate increases since. The article is also referring to budget dollars, not premiums. Can you supply up to date info?.

Yeah, it's a beautiful thing

Actually, a person needs to go back further than the 1,000 seat mark to really appreciate what a fantastic thing the conservative takeover of America has been. But that takes too long and is riddled with too many facts to be of interest, so to keep things simple, a person might ask something like,

"Well. Okay. The media may have missed it (or not), but aside from the takeover of all those seats, what has been the result? How has that happy turn of events impacted the majority of Americans? Has it been a good thing?"

I suppose you could point to a lot of examples (besides the $6 trillion, or $6,000 billion, we were all able to spend -- so far -- on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) of how having all those conservatives in office has helped the majority of Americans (and I'd love to read your views on that), but I thought this was one of the best examples of what your favorite party has been able to do for us all.

You're familiar with the concept of "net worth," I'm sure. We've all got one and some of ours are better than others. But, in general and in terms of that big idea called, "We The People," it broke down like this as of 2015:

10% of We The People possess 77% of America's net worth.

That means that somewhere around 32 million Americans are getting 77-cents of every American dollar and right around 280 to to 290 million Americans are working hard and fighting each other for the other 23-cents.

That, to me, is the premiere (practical, tangible) summary of what the lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation your 1,000 seat heroes believe in so deeply has done for We The People.

And even MORE of that is what you're advocating for (or seem so happy about).

I don't know . . . Maybe you're included in the 10 percent that owns most of everything that moves. But if you're not it's hard to understand why you're such a staunch supporter of that kind of thing because, as the annoying historical facts show, that kind of thing never works out well.

Another system

I’d like to point out that the wonderful system where 99% possess everything in equal shares and 1% possess the power to take away anything from those 99% if they want to doesn’t work in real life. And of course, we have to remember that even if in our system 90% fight for 23 cents, in the other system 99% fight for 10 cents because that is all they have there instead of a dollar here.

Bulletin: We're almost there

That 10-cent system is exactly where we're heading.

Do a little recent history research on those same US income/wealth percentages and see if you notice a trend that has developed over, say, the last 30 or 40 years.

If you're ambitious or curious enough, do a rough calculation on how many percentage points per year the disparity has grown (since whichever year you choose). That will give you a rough idea of how many more years it will take to get there.

If, for example, it looks like it's been about one-percent per year, that would mean that if we keep doing what we've been doing over those years we'll arrive sometime around 2030. More than one-percent, sooner. Less, later. But either way, it looks like it won't be too long.

But by all means, keeping thinking of everything you can to defend what it is we've been doing for the past 30 or 40 years because it's bound to start working well for everyone any minute now.

And by the way, if you actually do any of that research, be sure to take a quick look at what those net worth stats were in years like 1950, 1955, 1960, etc., and MAYbe take a look at what we were doing then that was different.

(Just in case you decide at some point that you actually aren't as excited as you once were about riding the bus all the way to Tencent City)


I think you missed my point. I was saying that in places where there is no inequality, the total pool is just 10 cents. So if America 300 million people are fighting for a share of 23 cents because the rest is owned by 30 million, in the Soviet Union 300 million were fighting for the share of 10 cents because there was nothing else. So 80-90% of salary was spent on food and a pair of winter boots cost more than a monthly salary… But everyone was equal… except party bosses who didn’t need money because they could get everything for practically free. Of course, even if it comes to 10% having 90% of everything in America, that everything will be two or three dollars rather than one so 90% will still have more… Those 10 cents in the Soviet Union were not growing.

That makes no sense

In 2013, Trump was criticizing Obama in Tweets for wanting to hold Assad accountable. Republicans refused to give Obama the authority to intervene. Anyone who was concerned with trusting the Russians in Syria in 2013 absolutely would not vote vote Republican.

Revisionist history aside, I doubt that many rural voters based their votes in Syria. They bought into Trump's false promises and they are going to get hit the hardest by what Trump actually does.


Are you telling us that you voted for the most incompetent option for president because your feelings were hurt? I have to admit that that's what it has sounds like from a large portion of people who voted for Trump. I'm pretty sure I'm not imagining it because other people are literally hearing that from other Trump voters. Interestingly, the other reason lots of people say that they voted for Trump is that they wanted him to punish some "other people". You know, criminals. Bad people. "Them". I have to admit a little shadenfreude over when they find out those "other people" are actually people they might care for. Even themselves. While we progressives are sneered at for caring for people even when they "don't think or are bad" (or whatever it is that Mr. Gutman said above), I'm pretty sure that at least some of us are ready to give up that vice. Congrats, "you people' might just have turned some of us into Ayn Rand followers, who teaches us that we should not love those who don't deserve it.

Notably, the blue collar economy has been in decline for years due to automation and legal outsourcing (mostly a Republican goal), yet somehow it's Obama's fault that no one noticed that, hey, maybe a better education rather than inheriting my dad's and grandad's job is the right option. Coal isn't coming back except maybe as a blip. Cars and homes will increasingly be powered by cleaner energy sources than coal and fracked oil, even though we're happily passing that stuff over and under our drinking water sources (guess who gets to drink that stuff when the pipeline fails?). When buggies went out of style, I'm sure the whip manufacturers complained to high heaven, but eventually they either found a new trade or didn't. No one could save them from the auto revolution. No one thinks they would have been justified in punishing everyone else for that.

You can point to the increase in GOP control over the 8 years Obama was in office, but you can't honestly say that it was because people were fed up with his policies. When asked in a neutral fashion, they LIKE what his policy initiatives were. But, if the GOP is good at anything, it's demonizing a Democrat. I'm sure it didn't hurt that Obama had a foreign/Muslim sounding name and dark skin. After all, some of the anger from blue collar men is that they no longer can sit on their anglosaxon laurels to be guaranteed success in life, and it galls them that hard working minorities and women have begun to outpace their earnings.

It was they who lost the jobs when the banks crashed the economy under Bush's watch. Young white men with little education and manual labor jobs they inherited from their dads. People who advanced their educations disproportionately kept their jobs over those young men. Why? Because when we're all strapped for cash in a consumer-based economy, we don't want the things that young blue collar men make. While we still need the jobs that women are more common in--health care, child care, education, etc. Many of the jobs that require higher education were lost during the crash, but those people are more flexible and valuable as a service-based economy began to build again. And we're still a little gun shy of buying too many goods that the blue collar men make. And, in any case, the cost of hiring them all again was not that much different from simply investing in automation. Bound to happen sooner or later, just as well be sooner. And these young men are mad at...someone, something. Just because they thought they deserved a job for doing nothing other than being born, surviving childhood, and being willing to do the same thing their parents did. When you're born to privilege, equality seems like oppression. Trump looks like a big tantrum in that context.

As to the impression of condescension from the left, that seems a bit funny. Supposedly the left is the PC brigade and that's a "bad thing". Everyone wants to do away with being nice to each other. It's refreshing to hear someone be a complete jerk. Yet, somehow the idea that you can only be insulted if you choose to be insulted doesn't apply when it's the left supposedly insulting you. Americans all want to believe their exceptional, and so when they figure out that they, individually, aren't, they get mad at "elitism." It's all well and good to be better than someone else (the rest of the world!) until you're not.

They did, so what

Yes, some people voted for Trump because they were sick of being insulted and called names. What is wrong with that? It’s better than not letting people speak or preventing people from saying what they want to say, right? As for not caring for those who don’t deserve it, it’s important to be clear who doesn’t deserve it: those who skip school and do drugs or those who want to work and in order to get a job vote for someone you don’t like. And how do you know that people voted Republicans not because they didn’t like Obama’s policies?

Evidence, please

I've heard this stuff about people being "sick of being insulted and called names", and I'M SICK OF IT!
Cite us some examples.
The rest of us get called names too, like "liberal elite", "politically correct", "bleeding heart liberals", "naive", etc., etc. Somehow it never made me want to go out & vote for someone who would supposedly PUNISH the people who called me that!
What could be the difference between us?


First of all, I said “people” – that does not apply to me. Second, Trump voters can’t even talk openly on campuses – isn’t it a punishment? Third, I do not see how “liberal elite” or “bleeding heart” may be considered “calling names” since it is impossible not to acknowledge that millionaires and billionaires paying $50,000 for a dinner with Clinton are both “liberal” and “elite” or that trying to help anyone without any considerations for that person’s actions is acting in a “bleeding heart” manner. And fourth, calling people racists and stupid is insulting, especially if they are not.

Let me define "us"

I wasn't speaking of you and me, Ilya, but of me and people who voted for Trump.
And aren't you being a little hard on yourself when you say "people - doesn't include me"?!
Just saying.
You say "Trump voters can't even speak openly on campuses - isn't it a punishment?"
Or it's part of public and political life not to be appreciated everywhere and all the time.
You seem to want to define what's an insult for both yourself and me. Not exactly impartial!
Let's agree we can both identify an insult when we hear it. The next step is how we deal with those insults.
Answering them face to face or by writing letters to a newspaper is more effective and cultivates more self-respect than brooding over them and then VOTING FOR THE WORST POSSIBLE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT in order to punish your critics!
As for "calling people racists and stupid is insulting, especially if they are not" (that's an interesting construction!) -- Since we all live in this culture where much of the structure itself was built on racism and sexism and still operates to maintain them, we have all imbibed the attitudes and expectations that are part of that evil.
Speaking as a white woman, I believe none of us should call out another white PERSON as racist (because we share the privileges of being white and the usually unconscious attitudes that we've learned), BUT every white person needs to learn to be very aware of and take seriously the situations of our fellow citizens of color. We do this by LISTENING TO THEM and IMAGINING OURSELVES IN THEIR PLACE. Reading history helps a lot.
And we should definitely identify racist BEHAVIORS and SITUATIONS, including laws and proposed laws, court judgements and police behavior. Because our work as citizens is to do what we can to change our racist and sexist culture, including our criminal justice system.

“People who voted for Trump

“People who voted for Trump because they felt insulted” – this is a category that doesn’t include me. Having lived in the Soviet Union and dealt with anti-Semitism and true discrimination for 20 years kind of forced me to have thick skin. Not being appreciated and not being allowed to speak are totally different things, of course; not being appreciated is part of life, not being allowed to speak is a punishment (and doesn’t sit well with the Constitution and liberal ideas). Sure, we all have the right to feel insulted and it is a personal choice (as I said, I usually don’t care) but there is a difference between using facts as insult (“liberal elite”) and fiction (“racists”). And it is unforgivable to prevent people from speaking just because you disagree with them. So those people could not answer the insult face to face (remember, they were not allowed to speak) or write letters to a newspaper (their letters and posts were not published) so they chose what has always been the best way in a democracy (that is why it’s called that way): Voted for the guy they thought was the best candidate and would help them in everything, including not being insulted.

About racism

Now, speaking about racism. Do you want to listen to me and imagine yourself in my place in the Soviet Union to learn what real discrimination is? When you are called names in school, on streets, and in lines in stores? And if there is nothing in the store, you are told that it is your fault? When you can’t go to college of your choice because Jews are not permitted there (and there are very few where they are)? When you can’t stay in graduate school despite being one of the very top students? When you can’t even consider some places of employment? When your passport states that you are a Jew and wherever you go where passport is required (and it is almost everywhere) that is the first thing people look at?
So no, nothing operates here to maintain racism and sexism and I (and most other Americans) do not have that imbibed. As an immigrant, there were times when I was not even given a chance to have an interview because during my phone conversation my accent was a deal breaker. But I am not bitter – no one owed me anything and they didn’t have to take a risk to hire someone from another country. So sure, we should identify racist behavior and situation; we just shouldn’t tie ANY behavior or situation that we don’t like to racism and accuse people without clear evidence..


Honest question Ilya, is any person a racist? If so, what criteria do they need to meet in your eyes to be labelled as such?

Honest answer

Definition of racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. Those who practice this are racists. In my 25 years here I probably met several people. And I read about probably a few dozen in the news. Every year, per FBI statistics, there are also several hundred hate crimes based on race, both against blacks and whites (and by the way, way more (proportionally) hate crimes against Jews). So for a country of 300 million that is nothing…

I've met lots

You are severely underestimating the existence of racists in this country. I've met lots--especially back home in the rural areas of South Dakota. I can't hazard a guess as to the level of racism among younger people back home since it's been a while since I've really gotten to know people there. But it's rampant among my age and older. I wouldn't necessarily say that a majority of people back home are racists (maybe, I guess I wouldn't be surprised), but it's as natural as breathing to many people. If you ask them, they might not admit they're racist. But if you spend some time with them, when they don't feel like they're being judged, it'll come out. Or if they feel empowered by the presence of others that they know hold the same beliefs, it'll be pretty obvious in the right situation. And it's that superiority complex that racists have that makes it sting particularly painfully to see minorities (and women) do better than them. Because if you're superior, then their mere existence supports the concept that they've "earned" something above and beyond what others get. They'll rail against "welfare" until their hand is out and STILL rail against it for "other people" at the same time government cash hits their hand.

By the way, the idea that just because something doesn't get counted means it doesn't exist is exactly why gender identity and sexual orientation is being left out of the census under the Trump cartel. You can justify legal discrimination before the courts if no one can show harm. If "those people" don't exist, you can't legally harm them, can you?

Also, Jews were considered a race by the Nazis, and in the minds of many people today, religion equates to race. So...the technicality you're trying to shove in front of the issue is really the same thing by a different name. Lots of people resent when Jews get ahead, by the way, hence the very use of the word "Jew" in phrases and words meant to paint Jews as bad people or guilty of the very crimes that Trump pulls on contractors and workers.

A problem

That is the problem – things have changed significantly in the last 20 years so a young racist is a rarity – they just don’t care about the color anymore. On the other hand, what you put into racism category is really not racism. As an example, I read many times that asking what country a person is originally from is a microaggression and therefore racism; it is not and people should change the attitude towards those things and stop seeing racism everywhere. On the other hand, racism is not an exclusively white thing- there are racists in among all races. And finally, the major thing that affects people is institutional racism which does not exist anymore.

Now, about being counted. If you read my previous post, you would know that nationality was listed in all Soviet passports and all documents… which made it easy to discriminate. The best (and really only) way not to discriminate is to not distinguish on paper who is who.

Of course, Jewishness was considered a race in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – that was actually my point: that there was real racial discrimination in the place where I came from so I can know it when I see it… and I do not see it here. But what does it have to do with Trump?

The prediction that these

The prediction that these resentment-filled people, without real facts on their side, will vote again for Trumpp or a surrogate Trump no matter if he accomplishes nothing in office, to fill one with despair for democracy. Which depends on an informed and thoughtful electorate, not a group of people who refuse to accept the facts of the present world and all its challenges and its diversity.

Just a Couple of Missing Data Points

1) I really wish Professor Kraemer had asked the rural folk to whom she was speaking where they get their information.

Do they watch the evening news on Network TV?

Do they watch weasel news or CNN continuously?

Who owns their local radio stations and what slant on the news to THOSE stations provide...

(most local rural stations are now owned by large media conglomerates with the vast majority of their programming arriving via satellite and broadcast only a thin veneer of "local" programming)?

Do they listen to "conservative" talk radio daily?

2) Are the "good old days" that the rural folk resent losing,...

(when America was "great")...

the days BEFORE massive mechanization and consolidation of farming operations,...

the days BEFORE rural areas emptied out because there was no work for younger folk,...

and it was almost impossible to youngsters to break into farming,...

because their parents' generation had bid the price of farm land so high that no youngster could get financing to buy any,...

i.e. was America "great" in rural areas before farmers changed their farming practices to minimize labor,...

maximize their use of huge equipment,...

and bid the price of land to the moon,...

the days before farmers, themselves, destroyed their rural communities and drove everyone else off the land,...

in their pursuit of ever higher yields and ever greater profit?

This massive shift in the rural economy changed just about the time the "boomers" like me graduated from high school end left our rural homes,...

mostly never to return

I can't help but wonder how much of our "rural resentment" is really grief over what used to be out here in the rural areas,...

but no longer is, because we, ourselves, destroyed it,...

in our efforts to prove that we were better, smarter, and could get richer,...

than any of our friends and neighbors?

Rural Resentment: Missing Data Points

Accurate information on these two missing data points would have been most illuminating. People who get their news from Fox and conservative talk radio have a fundamentally different view of the world than those who read regional and national newspapers, and listen to NPR. This information is not based on reality or evidence. It panders to base fears. These rural resenters have chosen to be manipulated by a shameless con man who seems intent on hurting the most vulnerable in our society. That includes THEM!

But they enthusiastically voted for Trump—a man whose legislation (if passed) would threaten their very existence. As long as he takes down the "undeserving" they don't care who else he hurts.

As far as their yearning for the "good old days," do they see the irony in their self-described independent, self-reliant, Christian (love thy neighbor as thyself) selves not actually looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for the decisions they have made, fact-checking the information they receive, and working to make our country better for everyone?

How can I have a conversation with those who will not accept verifiable facts or honestly assess the problems they face without blaming immigrants and the undeserving? Whatever happened to the American rural values of shared sacrifice for the greater good? Have these people lost all of their critical thinking skills?

Keep your government hands

off of my agricultural subsidies.

Emotional appeal

When voters are angry they vote for the angriest candidate. They don't analyze facts or plans of the candidates because when you are angry you are not rational. This is especially true when nobody seems interested in reporting facts or plans because there is daily gossip available to keep everyone angry.

Were they?

Clinton voters seemed very angry to me…

Pretty Sweeping Generalization, Ilya!

Hi, I'm a Hillary Clinton voter. Before Nov. 8, I wasn't angry. I was looking forward to the first American woman President. I was looking forward to eight years of a President who was more qualified than any other presidential candidate had ever been and who had proved her capability and empathy for ordinary people (coming from ordinary - that is, WORKING, people herself). A hard worker and a thinker.
On Nov. 9 we woke up to discover that instead of the best candidate, the worst had won.
I still wasn't angry, Ilya. I was, along with millions of other Americans, profoundly shocked that this could have happened.
Once over the shock, listening to the blaming and self-blaming of the Democrats, and worse, of our candidate, THAT'S when I began to get angry.
Few seemed able to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, the only one that should matter, by nearly three million votes.
Then we began to hear about Trump's ties to Russian oligarchs and intelligence.
EVERYONE should be angry, Ilya. Are you?

A Minority Opinion

As someone intimate with anger, I've noticed that you CAN be angry and rational at the same time. Sometimes anger actually connects us to a deeper rationality. That would usually if not always be when we hear someone else arguing from a position of selfishness rationalized as practicality, or Randian (and Ryanian) "right-to-rule-because-I'm-superior-to-all-you-others".


Rationality should come into play when you are trying to determine if someone is indeed “arguing from a position of selfishness” meaning that it should come before anger for doing that…

And if we rationally determine

That it's our belief that a party is arguing from a position of selfishness, then what? Take their word (or the word of third party observers like you), that they're not? Words are meaningless instruments in the face of continued actions to the contrary. Intentions are meaningless in the face of observable consequences.

Parties don't have feelings

It is not rational to assign any feelings to a party which is just a mechanism to help elect its members. In this regards, all parties are the same. It is possible to argue that Democratic party members and supporters are less selfish than Republican party members… but it is questionable because, I believe, Republican party members give more to charity than Democratic party…

Took the wrong meaning

Party as another term for individual.

If you meant party as a

If you meant party as a person, that is good… just make sure you make a judgment based on that person's actions, not party (group) affiliation…

As Forrest Gump, a man of the South, told us...

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Turn the clock back 75 years and virtually every home in West Virgina had a picture of FDR over the fireplace. Why? Simple: overwhelming support for New Deal wealth distribution programs beginning with Social Security and including countless other initialed programs: WPA, CCC, PWA, CWA, etc...

And these wealth re-distribution programs helped extract us from the Great Depression and prepare us for success in WW2 (Conservatives cry foul here).

West Virginia is still consistently #49 or 50 in adjusted gross income. Consistently dependent on government support programs and yet went 69% Trump, 27% Clinton. We're not talking rugged individualists here, we're talking folks with pitch forks and signs that say:

"Keep your Gummint Hands off my Medicare"

Their need for support has not declined and the Ds inclination to favor wealth distribution has also remained steady and yet these 2 groups with similar self interests could not be further apart.

Reconciliation would seem inevitable, yet don't bet on it. Clean coal and Donald Trump is their hope for the future. They would be better off trying that shrimpin' boat Captain thing...

Maybe he will

Maybe he will but maybe they won't

So let's see . . . The pres asks China to put the squeeze on N. Korea so they stop buying coal from them and start buying it from West Virginia instead? Hard to say (because you didn't) but that seems to be what you're suggesting.

Could be. But you might want to take a look at this article too (and maybe a quick look at China's broader coal acquisition strategy and system) before getting too excited about that prospect (or investing too much money in it).

"February 9, 2017

"The Anglo-Australian miner, Rio Tinto, announced an agreement to sell subsidiary Coal & Allied Industries to the Australian unit of China's Yanzhou Coal Mining . . . Rio Tinto said the deal is valued at up to $2.45 billion . . .

"The purchase will make the company the fourth-largest coal producer in Australia. The combined annual output of the three mines came to 25.9 million tons in 2016."

So there's that. China's buying one of Rio Tinto's coal mining operations in Australia (and Rio Tinto is one of the biggest, most efficient, most competitive mining companies in the world) but China might decide to buy coal from West Virginia and have it shipped in from there instead.

Like you say, "Maybe."

Thank you

Thank you for helping me avoid an investment mistake…. But I wouldn’t do it because coal industry will die soon, but I hope it will die from natural causes such as an invention of a new energy source, not from strangulation by the government. However, if Trump manages to help coal miners even a little bit for a while, that will be a big deal. Plus, this thing damages North Korea so it is a win-win… that no one managed to do this before Trump.

Solar and wind power

are already cost competitive with coal in the short run, and cheaper when you factor in long term costs.
And (as has been pointed out) North Korea gets its coal from closer sources like China and Australia, so Trump's actions will have no economic effect on NK.

If solar and wind are cheaper

If solar and wind are cheaper than coal, how come those capitalists who want to save every penny haven’t switched yet? And it is not North Korea which is getting coal from Australia; it is China. North Korea sells coal – it is their only export, I would guess…


Solar and wind power production is growing much more rapidly than coal.
And the point was that if China stopped buying NK's coal it would buy from us, which is unlikely because it has better sources closer.

The switchover is happening now

Coal plants are being retired, no new plants are being built and the new energy generation capacity is all natural gas or renewables.

"As a recent study from the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin explains, in most of the United States, the cheapest power plant to build today tends to be natural gas combined-cycle plants or wind farms. New coal plants are more expensive to build in most places."

"The natural gas glut has reshaped how we get electricity across the board, with natural gas-fired generation expected to surpass coal generation in the United States for the first time in 2016."

Class, fear and resentment

If people are going to choose their elected representatives based entirely upon ignorance, fear and resentment, it ought at least be directed in the right direction. One thing that Professor Cramer does not mention or discuss in so many words but is just beneath the surface is class and the fear and resentment that flows from it. People in the US stopped believing that we had a class based society when they saw themselves as "middle class" or at least mobile in that direction. especially "upper middle class." No one will admit to being "upper class" or "lower class" and some people resent being called "working class." People think we live in a "classless" society even though it obviously not true. We refer to people who live better than any aristocracy or royalty in history as "upper middle class" as if that were really the case.

But the comments of the people Prof. Cramer interviews are seething with resentment against people seen as "elite" or in some cases "lower class" than themselves. I'd suggest from my own experience and observation that many people are fearful of downward mobility, not just in terms of what that means in terms of money but also in status or class. So their fear and resentment are exploited by a political party- the traditional party of the rich- that cynically exploits them to their own selfish ends.

I think part of the reason for Bernie Sanders's remarkable success as far as he got was in his message about the "middle class" in terms of what that meant as "class solidarity." The Democratic Party purposely jettisoned that idea in the 1990's with Bill Clinton. Pres. Obama embraced it too. HRC did not pick up on the theme until it was too late for her to deliver on it credibly for a lot of voters, many of whom did not trust her having distanced herself from the Democratic party of Bill and Barack.(who was trying to negotiate passage of the TPP right down through the election. Brilliant!).

What ? No mentioning of ....

the race issues festering with this Presidential fiasco. Or was the pot stirred to give us what we have. Here is a read

Consider what is "revealed" by the ANES report. And how to heal the wounds.

This is why Bernie Sanders would have won

Good article. This is why Bernie Sanders would have won the general election last year, he understands the legitimate frustration of blue collar voters (both urban and rural). People are pissed off. After 40 years working harder for less so the rich get richer, they're looking for targets. Establishment Democrats tried to tell them all was well, that the economy had recovered under Obama and that everything was hunky dory. Trump had the message of change in an anti-establishment year, and won, and Democrats up and down the ballot were dragged down because of it. With Bernie that wouldn't have happened, we would have done well outside the big cities.

Will establishment Democrats finally wake up, or are they still going to try to externalize blame, try to scapegoat everything from Russia to Wikileaks to progressives to Jill Stein to millennials to Bernie himself? How we do in 2018 depends on whether Dems learn their lesson (the lesson they've been taught in 3 of the last 4 elections), or whether we need another lesson.

Completely wrong

Read the article cited by Joe Mucich above this one, which is the real story, not the fantasy you are writing about. Those people weren't going to vote for Sanders. Even the people who voted for Sanders in primaries wouldn't have voted for Sanders.

If Sanders was such a great candidate, he would not have lost by millions of votes - and that's with Sanders benefitting from voter-suppressing caucuses. The people he works with every day would not have overwhelmingly supported his opponent. Sanders would have lost by Mondale/McGovern like numbers once his ideas and personal baggage got some scrutiny.

Sanders ran an extremely negative and dishonest campaign, and continued to do so long after the race was over. It does no good to blame Sanders for electing Trump, but it's important that Democrats don't take the wrong lesson from the election

Logical fallacy

We keep seeing this claim by Clintonians that Sanders lost by millions of votes in the primary and that proves he would have lost the general election. It's a logical fallacy because the voters in a general election are not the same as voters in the Democratic primaries and caucus's. The fact that Sanders lost the Democratic primary simply tells us that Democrats chose a losing candidate to put at the top of their ticket, it can't tell us whether or not Sanders would lose in the general election because you looking a different pool of voters. We know for instance that the practice of closed primaries hurt Sanders by keeping voters out of the primary polling booths in several states. That's part of the "rig" that Democrats use to keep progressive challengers of their tickets. In a general election those barriers wouldn't have existed.

Sanders did NOT run a negative and dishonest campaign, his ability to stay on message (and actually have a message) and focus on issues that people cared about was an asset that Clinton lacked.

The problem was

that Sanders only had one message (and one stump speech to deliver it), and that his economic numbers did not add up.
The Dems lost with a middle of the road candidate. Switching to an extreme one would not have helped.

Clinton was the Middle Road

Clinton was the middle road, and she lost. Having one message apparently is better than having no message at all. Clinton didn't lose because she was too liberal, Democrats had better get that straight.

By the way... the link Pat Terry provides contradicts his point

If you actually go and look at the link Pat Terry provide it doesn't support his claim, on the contrary it supports pro-Sanders claims that he would have won.

The poll doesn't find that 50% of Sanders primary voters chose or would choose Trump over Sanders, it finds that 50% of Sanders voters were lost to Trump because Clinton instead of Sanders was on the ballot. Democrats lost independent votes to Trump because they put Clinton instead of Sanders on the ballot. This is consistent with other research and polls.

Check it out for yourself:


It seems in the context of the article, it all comes down to "identity" which seems to be a code word for racism. I have difficulty in accepting that, both because it's not true exactly, and because it is a political dead end. You can't really ask for a person's vote moments after calling him a racist.

It is baffling that Republicans run so well in rural areas. When I ask my friends in the DFL what it is that rural areas want that we are denying them, they generally don't have many answers. Environmental issues come up a lot, but I don't know what to do about that. People in cities want to drink the water and breathe the air, and voting DFL helps them do that. From where I sit, Republicans have had a lot of success demagoguing issues, that really don't turn on an urban rural split, but rather appeal to a sort of generalized resentment.

During the last campaign, I was frustrated by how Trump would make promises no informed observer believed he could possibly keep. He was pure political id. And since his election, he seem seems amazingly disinterested in making any effort to keep his promises, or indeed making any effort to remember what they were. How do we react to that?

The problem with Democrats...

Is that they let Democrats run their campaigns. The reason Democrats have so much trouble in rural MN is they do such a lousy job of campaigning for Democrats. In the last two election cycle's the silence from Democrats regarding their work on behalf of rural Minnesotan's was nearly deafening. I kept waiting for some kind of response (an effective response would have been nice but any response would have been helpful) to the republican attacks... but it never materialized. You're not going to win without effective campaigns.

The other problem Democrats had was that they denied themselves really strong rural appeal by leaving too many issues on the table. Democrats left a whole host of issues on the table rather than resolving them in Dayton's first term and that came back to bite them. Democrats could have passed larger bonding bills, a gas tax that would have stabilized transportation funding and settled the funding SWLRT but they left all those issues and more on the table out of fear of "over-reach". Then the lost anyways and republicans have been using those issue to beat them over the head ever since. Instead of being able to go out to rural MN and point to all the projects and funding they'd accomplished, Democrats were left with deadlocks and inadequate funding that they ending up taking the blame. Even the stadium bill has been a gift to republicans that keeps on giving. Democrats crafted the largest public subsidy in MN history for a New Jersey billionaire and it's been riddled one micro-debacle after another. The Republicans have been playing the role of taxpayer watchdog for months now while investigating, decrying, and deconstructing elite Democratic privilege within the stadium commission. So yeah, to rural Minnesotan's it looks like the billionaires in the city always get what they want, but rural area's always have to wait to make the budget priority list.

Some of us repeatedly warned Democrats about this, but Democrats simply would not listen.

Identity does not Equal Racism

This was a nice article until the end when Mr. Black surmises that identity meant racism. Why is it that when someone describes someone that many liberals instantly think that identity means they are thinking or talking about race.
Identity is about what someone feels they are, what values they hold, and what they want out of like. Yes, race and gender is a small part of that. But identity is such a larger picture.
As Mr. Foster is saying, many liberals are flabbergasted by the thoughts that someone like Trump was much preferable to people than they would like to admit. So, instead of thinking why they would vote the way they did, all we see is more demonization. Obama started this long ago with the line about clinging to guns and religion. He further fanned flames and made racial relations some of the worst it has ever seen at every turn.
As many have said and it is still not sinking in, the rural voters just want good economic policies, security for them and our country, stop messing too much with people with too many laws, excessive favoritism to certain groups, using tax dollars wisely, and a group of people that need to stop pointing fingers at other people. They use their votes as their voice as they don't have the time to yell and complain as some groups do. They are ticked off at being constantly insulted, with the media being no help to that.
When the Democrats finally start to see what their identity really is, they will continue to lose at the ballot box more and more than they have been. And that's far from just the code word of race.

Finally, we agree

Finally, “You can't really ask for a person's vote moments after calling him a racist.” I don’t usually agree with Mr. Foster but here he is 110% correct. But of course, I can’t agree in everything: Mr. Trump actually is trying to keep his promises; if he didn’t, why are Democrats, who were upset with his promises, are upset with him now?

I am glad

I am glad that someone is willing to talk to people who don’t live in NY, LA, SF, or Madison, WI. (The other one is this guy but most people unfortunately choose this path Ms. Cramer’s book talks about “rural Badger Staters who felt mistreated, overlooked, disrespected and condescended to by the liberal Democrats in the big cities.” I’ve been trying to explain Trump’s victory in my comments since the Election Day by people’s being offended by the coastal liberal elite which often thinks (or at least gives impression that it does) that there is nothing of value between NYC and California. So they have no one else to blame but themselves for Trump – eight (or even four) years ago he was impossible. Interestingly, communists used to refer to educated people as “rotten intelligentsia” and were keen to repeat that without proletariat and peasantry it cannot survive.

“There is an element of race in the resentment.” I wonder if it was Ms. Cramer who said that or Mr. Black… Yes, it is mostly whites who live in the rural area but bringing up race here is unfair and unreasonable; it basically reinforces what those rural voters think about liberals: “They have no clue and yet call us names and assume we are racists.”

“Cramer, under questioning from Larry Jacobs of the U of M’s Center for the Study of Politics and Government, later said that these beliefs are not founded on facts (there’s plenty of poverty and social ills in metro areas).” This sounds almost like Mr. Jacob forced Ms. Cramer to admit this – which, of course, in addition to making mostly liberal audience that gathered to listen to Ms. Cramer feel better, just reinforced the same stereotypes for them (those rural folks are delusional and stupid) and would do the same for Trump’s voters if they by chance happened to be there or would read this piece (liberals disregard us as delusional and stupid). The fact is that, despite “plenty of poverty and social ills” in the big cities, those are the places that get the most money and attention from the government and from the media, in part because they are close to each other and in part because of the race (it may not help much but they do). Indeed, the very fact that Ms. Cramer was contacted only after elections shows that no one in the NYT bothered to think what those people in rural Wisconsin (or MN, IA, KS, SD, TN, WY, etc.) think and how they feel. So yes, those Trump’s voters beliefs are founded on facts.

“Cramer’s conversation in rural Wisconsin also led her to reject the idea that these rural Republicans are voting primarily on social issues, like gay rights or abortion. In her conversations with them, the rural folks were always emphasizing economic issues, like jobs and infrastructure.” Yes, surprise, those people want to work, not get Obamacare and food stamps (they may be mistaken in their expectations but at least someone seemed to understand what they were thinking). And they are not bigots either, which makes it strange that Mr. Black took it that by “identity” Ms. Cramer “meant racial and ethnic identity.” It is “rural” vs. “urban” and “working” vs. “not working” identities but not racial or ethnic even though it may seem like that if one considers statistical data about rural and urban areas… But it would be a mistake to substitute one for another.