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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. 

Comments (138)

  1. Submitted by Bryce Elson on 04/11/2017 - 11:24 am.

    “…money 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?

  2. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/11/2017 - 11:41 am.

    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.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 04/11/2017 - 12:15 pm.

      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?

      • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 04/11/2017 - 12:51 pm.

        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

      • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/12/2017 - 04:28 pm.

        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.)

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/11/2017 - 01:58 pm.


      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.

      • Submitted by Ole Olson on 04/12/2017 - 12:30 am.


        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.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/12/2017 - 12:18 pm.


          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.

          • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/12/2017 - 04:18 pm.

            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.

  3. Submitted by Tim Smith on 04/11/2017 - 12:52 pm.

    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.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/11/2017 - 01:52 pm.

      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.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/11/2017 - 05:20 pm.

        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.”

      • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 04/13/2017 - 06:49 am.

        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.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/11/2017 - 05:36 pm.

      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.”

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 04/12/2017 - 11:16 am.

        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.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/11/2017 - 09:16 pm.

      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.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 04/12/2017 - 10:07 am.

        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…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/12/2017 - 01:29 pm.

          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.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/11/2017 - 01:39 pm.

    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.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/11/2017 - 09:16 pm.

      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.

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/12/2017 - 03:26 pm.

        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.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/12/2017 - 05:10 pm.

          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.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 12:53 pm.

          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.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2017 - 07:15 pm.

            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%?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 07:22 am.

        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….

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/13/2017 - 09:50 am.

          We do

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

  5. Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/11/2017 - 03:58 pm.


    “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

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2017 - 07:24 am.

      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.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/12/2017 - 12:25 pm.


        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.

        • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/12/2017 - 01:24 pm.

          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?

    • Submitted by Tim Smith on 04/12/2017 - 08:46 am.

      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…

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/12/2017 - 05:34 pm.

        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).

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 07:27 am.

          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.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 04/11/2017 - 04:07 pm.

    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!!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/11/2017 - 05:12 pm.

      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?

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/11/2017 - 05:16 pm.

      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.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 04/12/2017 - 03:20 pm.


        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?.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/11/2017 - 05:34 pm.

      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.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 07:26 am.

        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.

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/13/2017 - 11:41 am.

          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)

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 07:29 am.


            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.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/11/2017 - 05:42 pm.

      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.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/13/2017 - 09:50 am.


      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.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 12:50 pm.

        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?

        • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/16/2017 - 01:14 am.

          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?

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2017 - 10:03 am.


            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.

            • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/16/2017 - 02:12 pm.

              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.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/17/2017 - 12:44 pm.

                “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.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/17/2017 - 12:45 pm.

                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..

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/16/2017 - 03:46 pm.


              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?

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/17/2017 - 12:47 pm.

                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…

                • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/19/2017 - 09:00 am.

                  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.

                  • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/19/2017 - 01:02 pm.

                    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?

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/11/2017 - 04:08 pm.

    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.

  8. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/11/2017 - 04:29 pm.

    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?

    • Submitted by Kolean Pitner on 04/11/2017 - 06:22 pm.

      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?

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2017 - 09:36 am.

        Keep your government hands

        off of my agricultural subsidies.

      • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/12/2017 - 01:32 pm.

        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.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 07:28 am.

          Were they?

          Clinton voters seemed very angry to me…

          • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/16/2017 - 12:50 am.

            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?

        • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 04/16/2017 - 12:24 am.

          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”.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2017 - 10:09 am.

            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…

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/16/2017 - 11:44 pm.

              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.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2017 - 10:13 am.

                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…

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 04/11/2017 - 04:47 pm.

    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…

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2017 - 07:25 am.

      Maybe he will

      Or maybe Trump will help West Virginia

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/13/2017 - 02:45 pm.

        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.”

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 07:31 am.

          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.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2017 - 10:39 am.

            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.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 10:19 pm.

              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…

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/15/2017 - 10:21 am.


                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.

              • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/17/2017 - 10:06 am.

                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.”

  10. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/11/2017 - 05:29 pm.

    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!).

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 04/11/2017 - 10:26 pm.

    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.

  12. Submitted by Ole Olson on 04/12/2017 - 12:24 am.

    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.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/12/2017 - 01:01 pm.

      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

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/13/2017 - 12:10 pm.

        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.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/13/2017 - 07:17 pm.

          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.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/14/2017 - 11:15 am.

            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.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/13/2017 - 12:17 pm.

        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:

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/12/2017 - 07:12 am.


    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?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2017 - 10:10 am.

      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.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 04/13/2017 - 07:14 am.

      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.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 07:30 am.

      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?

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2017 - 07:27 am.

    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.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2017 - 07:18 pm.

      Urban areas

      get the most public funds because that’s where most people live (now, not in 1917).
      Two thirds of the population of Minnesota lives in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
      I don’t know about Wisconsin, but I suspect that Milwaukee and Green Bay have a similar effect.
      According to one source ( Wisconsin is about 70% urban, while the United States as a whole is about 80% urban; up from about 73% in 1970.
      And look up “badger game.”

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 10:21 pm.

        Obviously I meant spending per person… And, as I said, urban folks are the ones the media is always talking about: how difficult it is for them, how to help them, etc. It never talks about rural folks…

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/17/2017 - 09:47 am.

          Depends on which media

          Media concentrate on issues relevant to their readers.
          TC newspapers and TV concentrate on metro area issues.
          On the other hand, the Mankato Free Press and KEYC-TV give a lot more attention to rural issues.
          And ‘never’ is too absolute; you do occasionally see things related to rural issues even on the TC media.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2017 - 09:46 am.

    Garbage analysis

    I hate to say it but Ms. Cramer’s analysis could be garbage. She appears to be conducting “Qualitative Research” which is legitimate methodology, but can be very tricky to extrapolate from.

    Basically it looks like she collected anecdotes, which is one of the of the problem with qualitative research, and then extrapolated from those anecdotes to suggest larger observations and population wide trends. Look: it all depends what you’re trying to figure out. If you’re trying to figure out why people voted for Walker, Cramer’s approach might yield so understanding. If you’re trying figure why MORE people voted for Walker than someone else… not so much. Given the fact that elections are about someone getting more votes than someone else, Cramer’s insights may be of limited value. In order to figure out why someone actually won an election you need look a much broader set of datum and conduct a more complex analysis.

    Then there’s the problem of “descriptive” vs. “predictive” strength of any analysis. Anecdotal evidence from rural Wisconsin may describe why those voters voted for Walker, but it doesn’t predict who they would vote for in the future, or even who they would have voted for if they’d had different candidates to choose from. Predictions are completely different problem.

    Then there’s the NYT’s. It was clear to many observers who noted from the beginning of the election cycle that the NYT’s was stuck in it’s own Hillary Clinton echo chamber. From it’s disparaging coverage of Sanders during the primaries to it’s constant stream of 538 predictions of Clinton’s victory, beyond being alarmed by Trump, the NYT’s never took Clinton’s obvious vulnerabilities seriously. The NYT’s wasn’t alone in this regard, but this idea that we’re going to learn some kind of political lesson from all those people who got it wrong, is an ongoing curiosity.

    Completely missing from this analysis is the fact that Walker’s victory and Wisconsin’s vote for Trump shouldn’t really surprise anyone. In 2000 and 2004 Wisconsin Voted Gore and Kerry by a very narrow margins (.22% and .04%). Obama won Wisconsin by 14% in 08 and 10% in 12. The most obvious conclusion isn’t that Wisconsin has slid into some kind of republican deep freeze, rather the lesson is that strong Democratic candidates running on liberal rather than neo-liberal campaigns can win elections in Wisconsin. Sanders’s for instance defeated Clinton by 13% (over 130k votes). Sander’s also got over 200k more votes than Trump, and 36k more votes than Cruz, who won the Republican primary in Wisconsin.

    The most obvious explanation for Clinton’s loss and and Trump and Walker’s victories is that Clinton, and Walker’s Democratic challengers, were weak candidates. And if fact, that’s what the polls have always shown, nationwide a clear majority of Americans ALWAYS said they didn’t like and didn’t trust Hillary Clinton. In Wisconsin she had a 56% unfavorable rating and she came in 3rd behind Sanders and Cruz in the Primaries. I’m not even going to talk about the another universally recognized problem with Clinton, which was the fact that her actual campaign was sub-mediocre disaster. Even her supporters ended up acknowledging that she’s was a weak candidate and resorted to promising that she’d a better president than she was a presidential candidate.

    Coming home to Minnesota we find the same thing. Strong liberal candidates like Dayton, Franken, and to a lesser extent Klobuchar won statewide races rather handily. Sanders defeated Clinton here in Minnesota with an even larger percentage than Wisconsin, 23% vs. 13%, yet Minnesota voters would find Clinton rather than Sanders on the ballot in November. Only 40% of Minnesotans actually gave Clinton a favorable rating.

    Clinton never had a commanding lead in the polls and race tightened in the weeks before the election.

    So yeah, the “pundits” got it wrong, that didn’t surprise some of us. All I can say is if Democrats now turn to the same pundits for advice on how to win future elections… they’ll keep losing elections. However the pundit arrive at their mistaken predictions, the fact remains they are mistaken. The problem is actually pretty simple, Democrats put their weakest candidates on the ballot and basically dare voters to vote for someone else… well. The question is whether or not the Democratic party has completely lost the ability to select strong liberal candidates? I see all kinds of analysis now from Democrats who argue that their party, at a time when a self avowed Socialist nearly captured their nomination and would have defeated Trump, needs to move even further to the right. This isn’t encouraging.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/12/2017 - 01:16 pm.

      Garbage analysis

      It’s funny that you say Klobuchar to a lesser extent, when she is the most popular of the three.

      And you can’t take the Minnesota caucus results seriously – they were so bogus the legislature promptly got rid of them. Clinton polled well ahead of Sanders here, but Sanders – like in other states – benefitted from the massive voter suppression of caucuses. Even though Sanderd lost by millions of votes, it made it look closer than it was.

      Clinton was not a great candidate, but Sanders was far worse. Trump would have won 49 states in that matchup and the Democrats would have been crushed down-ballot.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2017 - 08:33 pm.


        Is the least liberal of the three, I wasn’t referring to popularity. When people who couldn’t imagine Clinton losing declare that Sanders would have lost even bigger, I have a hard time taking them seriously.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/13/2017 - 09:15 am.

        Klobucahr and Sanders

        “It’s funny that you say Klobuchar to a lesser extent, when she is the most popular of the three.”

        Actually it’s not clear right now if Klobuchar is the most popular of the three. Franken has been a high profile critic of Trump Nominees since the election and may well surpass Klobuchar. Both Klobuchar and Franken made the top ten back in 2016 (Kobuchar 68%, Franken 62%), but at the top of that list was Bernie Sanders with a favorable rate of 80%.

        Either way, I wasn’t referring to Klobucar’s popularity, I was referring to status as “liberal”, she’s the most “moderate” of the three.

        Sander’s ALWAYS had higher approval and trust ratings than either Clinton or Trump (in double digits). He also proved to be an extremely adept campaigner who introduced an entirely new form of campaign finance and match or even out raised Clinton’s fund raising, while being able to stay on the campaign trail (Clinton frequently disappeared for days at a time in order to fund raise). He had a clear and compelling message (something Clinton NEVER developed.) And despite entering a primary system that was (is?) in fact rigged against candidates like Sanders, he produced some stunning victories in states that were supposed to be Clinton’s firewall and racked up 23 States and 43% of the primary votes. This from a guy who had almost zero name recognition running as Socialist.

        We know now after the election that Clinton’s loss was driven by independents and liberals who sat out the election (She got nearly half of those voters who voted for Obama in 08 and 12) and we know that those voters were among Sander’s strongest supporters. Sanders would have gotten the rank and file Democrats, and he would have pulled more of those Obama voters that Clinton lost. Polls since the election give Sander’s 2nd place behind Joe Biden in the top five, Clinton doesn’t even make it into the top ten. Sander’s had none of the liabilities Clinton carries around, and he had a clear and popular alternative to Trumpism, he had a popular plan to fix Obamacare, affordable college tuition, and modernize the countries transportation system, which would have created millions of jobs. Clinton actually denounced the most popular initiatives of the election cycle and eventually offered weak alternatives that basically handed the problem off to Wall Street financiers, thus confirming suspicions revolving around her Wall Street connections and alienated progressive’s and independents at the same time. For instance by the time she came up with a transportation infrastructure plan it was organized around letting Wall Street create another bank that would “leverage” an inadequate funding level of $25 billion into $250 billion (That’s a tenfold increase because we all know, banks are in the business of providing a whole lot of something for almost nothing, it worked so well for the mortgage industry).

        But I digress… sorry.

  16. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/12/2017 - 10:23 am.

    There is so much false framing, incoherence and propaganda

    in this subject that one can’t even begin to unpack it here.

    The bottom line is that for the past 50 years, to advance the interests of its plutocrat clientele, the Republican party has cultivated among the rest of us ignorance, division and resentment against false enemies, to deflect us from recognizing that its clientele are the ones responsible for undermining the economic and social stability of the middle, working and rural classes.

    In this piece we see Mr. Black repeating the terms “liberal establishment” and “urban elite” without quotation marks or critical distance. In fact, the terms “establishment” and “elite” define the class of concentrated wealth and power, and it is their interests that both major parties and the establishment media serve, by administering two different propaganda systems to two different pluralities of the voting population.

    For decades, the left has been the only source of a cogent critique of concentrated wealth and the two-party system, and the only source of a platform for an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable society that is fair to all. It is the place where all of the angry Trump voters should be, politically. That’s why a fundamental element of establishment propaganda over these decades has been to exclude, mischaracterize, ridicule and demonize the left. The framing trick of terms like “liberal establishment” and “urban elite” is to shift the definition of elite, from one based on concentrated wealth and power, to one that simply reproduces the false left-right continuum and, by doing so, dissolves the one source of establishment critique into the establishment itself, while extracting from the establishment the grouping most responsible for the immiseration visited on the Trump voters, and the one for whom they all just voted.

    As an aside, am I the only one observing mass psychological projection in those who ridicule “political correctness” and “safe spaces,” while declaring that they voted for Trump because they feel “disrespected” by some vague and fictional assortment of their fellow citizens?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2017 - 11:05 am.

      Chuck, no you’re not the only one.

      I know I keep saying this but the problem is, and I think you’re trying to put a finger on it… we have no truly liberal voices on the American political landscape.

      At the end of the day what you see with these references to “liberal elites” and “establishments” is a conservative impulse to reject liberalism. Over and over what we’re seeing here is so-called liberals declaring that they don’t think liberal candidates and agenda can win elections.

      Basically it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, they keep candidates like Sanders off the ballot with the claim that he’s too liberal, then when they lose elections instead of saying: “Huh, maybe Sanders’s could have won” they say: “See, we told you so”. The idea that Clinton was too liberal is beyond facile. It’s just circular reasoning pretending to be political analysis, it’s spiraling downwards into irrelevancy.

      So yeah, it’s not about “liberal” elites, it’s about “elites” liberal or otherwise, progressives get that. This ambivalence ( if not outright hostility) toward liberalism by “liberals” isn’t based on any factual analysis, it’s just moderate conservatives pretending be liberals… some call them “Democrats”.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2017 - 07:32 am.

      It won’t work

      “The Republican party has cultivated among the rest of us ignorance, division and resentment against false enemies.” So how did they cultivate ignorance? And who are the false enemies?

      “The left has been the only source of a cogent critique of concentrated wealth and the two-party system, and the only source of a platform for an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable society that is fair to all.” So what was their critique? And what is “fair for all?” Does it mean that 1% is too rich and we need to take more from them to give to the rest and that is fair? That has been tried many times… and failed. The Soviet writer Maxim Gorkiy, in one of his Italian Tales, said that if you take a little from a lot, it is not stealing but sharing… so even he didn’t suggest taking a lot. But the wealthy already pay a lot.

      “Am I the only one observing mass psychological projection in those who ridicule “political correctness” and “safe spaces,” while declaring that they voted for Trump because they feel “disrespected” by some vague and fictional assortment of their fellow citizens.” Yes you are. No one likes to be called names but Trump voters chose to go and vote to take those who call them names are not at power anymore. Liberals want to force their opponents to shut up – big difference.

      And finally, if I remember correctly, Franken barely won his first elections – by 200 or so votes, I think…

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/12/2017 - 10:47 am.

    The regressive nature of this kind of analysis

    Unfortunately Democrats may be on the verge of yet another catastrophic fail. I’m seeing a lot of neo-liberal analysis such as the large opinion piece in last Sunday’s Strib by Doug Berdie (Seven Ways Liberals Must Realign With Middle America). Basically these analysis in one way or another recommend that Democrats double down on their rejection of liberalism.

    From a analytical perspective these recommendations are all based on some kind of market research (Berdie is actually a retired market research executive). I’ve also heard that a post-election autopsy of sorts based on market research has been making the rounds within the Democratic party. The problem is a statistical artifact that’s inherent in this kind methodology.

    The problem with polling and market research is that it can only explore previous behavior and preferences, not “potential” behavior and preferences. In this regard most market research always pushes backwards rather than forwards. Market research can only explore past behavior, and is limited to the imaginations of the researchers respondents. So for instance they can ask people what kind of music they would like to listen to, but the responses are always limited to previous experience. No marketer would have told record companies to look for a group like the Beatles because no one had heard anything like the Beatles. No market research would have predicted Bernie Sanders’s popularity because no market research would have asked respondents about a candidate like Sanders to begin with. Market research is always behind the curve, never in front of the curve.

    From a political perspective, market researchers and pollsters can only explore previous voting rationales, they can’t explore potential voting rationales. They can go out and talk to people who voted for republicans, but they can’t explore options that didn’t exist when people voted for those republicans. Market researchers would not have recommended candidates like Franken and Dayton for instance because respondents can’t be asked to “imagine” candidates and campaigns before they exist. Just like no one could imagine the Beatles in 1959, or Elvis in 1935. Market research will tell you people want more Sinatra, or Chuck Berry… it’s always behind the curve.

    Do now Democrats are looking at their market research and deciding that they need be more Republican because Republicans won the last round of elections. The problem is those assumptions are based on regressive data that can’t predict what would happen if Democrats did something else. I can’t remember who Democrats wanted to nominate instead of Franken for instance (Mike Ciresi maybe?), but voters can’t tell you they’d vote for Franken until they’ve seen Franken.

    This is how and why Democrats keep rolling back further and further into moderate Republicanism rather than emerging with popular liberal agendas and candidates. If this trend continues so will the Democratic slide into irrelevancy.

  18. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/12/2017 - 06:00 pm.

    Which means what?

    “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.”
    I grew up rural Wisconsin,What are they talking about? They don’t feel like they command the rules of the road like they used too. Most of it is based on the 60’s prejudices. Example: Why do gays or different skin color and religion need “Special rights”? Why are our taxes being used to support refugees/immigrants etc. welfare, But lets not talk about farm subsidies, we are deserving these other folks are not! But no surprise there is no support for those perceptions other than Fox news and a mentality stuck in the 60’s. Get the picture?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/13/2017 - 07:37 pm.

      In other words

      Why should 20% of the population get 50% of the resources?

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 07:33 am.


      So why does anyone need special rights?

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2017 - 10:44 am.

        The only system that I know of

        where no one gets ‘special rights’ (define this term) is socialism.
        “To each according to their needs,
        from each according to their abilities”
        means that all rights are deserved.
        You if anyone has seen how this worked out.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 10:25 pm.

          Plenty of them…

          Actually, there were plenty of people with special rights in the Soviet Union (remember, some are more equal than others): actors, people working in special industries (mostly military) and of course, party leaders… So yes, I do know how it worked and don’t want anyone to be “special.” So 20% having 50% of resource is not a problem if there are plenty of resources; the problem is when there is nothing to share..

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/18/2017 - 09:33 am.


            You’re quoting George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’:
            “Some animals are more equal than others”.
            Still the definitive analysis of communism.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/14/2017 - 08:59 am.

    A final thought

    We’re seeing all these attempts to recommend “moderation” as a salvation of the Democratic party and this counsel clearly contradicts the evidence. Clinton did NOT lose the election because she was too liberal. Nor did Democrats around the nation lose seats because they were too liberal. Democrats have been losing because they’re leadership has been ineffective and they’ve been serving the wrong constituents for decades, American voters are tired of it. From billionaire football franchise owners and their stadiums to Wall Street Democrats have been serving the Nation’s elite at the expense of everyone else and it just doesn’t play anymore.

    Republicans don’t win because they serve their constituents, they certainly do not. But what Republicans do is they at least identify a constituency and talk to them. Sure, when they talk they lie, and misinform, but they talk. Clinton couldn’t connect with voters because on very basic level she simply didn’t talk to them about things they cared about in a way that voters found compelling. While Trump was promising to make America Great, Clinton was promising to preserve the Import Export Bank and some other stuff depending the day of the week.

    Democrats had a choice, they had a candidate that was packing venues around the country beyond capacity and energizing voters, (in other words actually connecting and talking to voters) and they choose to keep that candidate off the ballot. Why? Because Democrats aren’t liberals.

    How many times did you hear Democrats say that they were with Sanders on the issues but didn’t think it was “practical”? I hate to tell you this but if you don’t think liberal initiatives are realistic… you’re not a liberal. If you reject liberal candidates, for whatever reason in favor of conservative candidates… you’re not a liberal. That’s not a litmus test, it’s just a factual observation. If you have four legs and a tail, you’re not a human being. If you pray to Allah, you’re not a Catholic. If you don’t believe in liberalism, whether you vote for Democrats or not… you’re not a liberal. I’m not interested in classifying what you are… but I can tell you what you are not.

    And I can tell you something else… don’t expect to win elections. Given a choice between actual Republicans and Democrats pretending to be Republicans voters clearly tend to choose the former over the latter, right or wrong, smart or stupid, that’s how it is. The neo-liberal Democratic Party the Clinton’s helped establish has had a dismal history of electoral success. It got on candidate (Bill Clinton) elected to the White House in the last 36 years. Obama got elected by running against Clintonian ideology ( Recall he defeated Clinton in the primaries, after which the Party elite decided they weren’t gong to let THAT happen again). Obama turned out be a milder version of Clinton in practice and THAT had the effect of costing Democrats seats nationwide.

    We don’t have the time or space to parse out the history here but basically the nation and it’s voters have been stuck with the same problems, income disparity, energy, job insecurity, infrastructure, environmental contamination, education and tuition costs, and health care, and the so-called “entitlement crises” for decades because Democrats have left the best solutions on the shelf rather than trying to implement them. Why Democrats leave perfectly workable liberal solutions like Medicare for All on the shelf? Because they’re not liberals. 58% of Americans want Medicare for All yet Democrats refuse to believe it’s “workable”, not because it’s not workable, but because it’s a liberal initiative. I’m sorry but if you don’t think Medicare for All is “workable”, its not because you’re have a grasp of health care economics, it’s because you’re not liberal.

    So Democrats need to decide whether or not they’re going to be liberals, running a liberal party, offering liberal initiatives. If they want to win elections that’s what they need to do.

    As far as organizing campaign strategies around ignorant rural voters who don’t recognize their own best interests and rely on misinformation and irrational reflexes in the voting booth… that’s not going to win elections. If you want to put the most unpopular and distrusted candidate who loses the popular vote by the widest margin in US history in the White House… well go for it. But why would you want to do that? And why would you want to duplicate that election? So much for going high when they go low.

  20. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/14/2017 - 09:52 am.

    The agenda

    Why should 20% of the population get 50% of the resources?

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with that division, what bothers me is that 20% is convinced it isn’t getting enough.

    I have a friend who is sort of in the know on a lot of these issues, and I have asked him whether there is some sort of rural agenda out there that the DFL ignored when we had the majority. He tells me there isn’t, that in fact Greater Minnesota did pretty well. The issues that we hear about, two years ago it was the Senate Office Building and gay marriage, aren’t specifically rural issues. There does seem to be a generalized mood of resentment out there, but there isn’t much specifically that can be done about that. Trump made a lot of promises, but they were promises he has no way of keeping, something we are learning more about each day.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2017 - 10:45 am.

      The answer is

      let dirt, grass and trees vote.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/14/2017 - 11:45 am.

      Rural Minnesotan’s always did better with Democrats.

      Rural MN got hit the hardest when they started electing small guvment Republicans who delivered deficits and budget cuts and gridlock and shutdowns. The problem is that for some reason Democrats didn’t campaign on that fact in any coherent way. I don’t know if Democrats just didn’t they needed to try, or what was going on but once again Democrats let Republicans frame the issues. I’ve never run a campaign but I’m pretty sure you have to still have to campaign if you want to win elections.

      Democrats have just been jumping from one election to the next, they don’t seem to understand that you have to look beyond the current contest. I keep saying that Democrats need to decide whether or not they’re liberal, and one of my reasons for that is liberalism provides a durable ideological framework that transcends particular election cycles. You to have a popular framework of durable agendas that your candidates can grab onto and the party can present as a unified force. This gives you narrative structure that can distinguishes one Party from another and frame your campaigns. But again, you have to be liberal, you can’t liberal initiatives on the table because you’re afraid of “over-reach”.

      Democrats in rural contests could have campaigned on the fact they historically deliver more to rural areas, and would have delivered more had republicans not blocked spending and tax increases. Better yet, Democrats could have raised the gas tax and passed Dayton’s larger bonding bill when they ran the table and completely neutralized the issue. Had democrats not left those issues on the table out of fear of “over-reach” they would have been in a position to campaign on their success and ability to deliver when in power. Instead they dialed a liberal initiative back and left Republicans with something to hit them over the head with in future election cycles.

      Democrats dial back liberalism because they’re afraid it will cost them elections, and they lose elections anyways we’re all stuck with the mess. To the voters it looks like when we put Democrats in power to fix stuff, they choose not to fix stuff even though they could, so whats’ the point?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/14/2017 - 10:27 pm.

        I don’t see logic here

        So “ignorant rural voters who don’t recognize their own best interests and rely on misinformation and irrational reflexes in the voting booth” handed election to Trump. People didn’t vote for Clinton who was obviously to the left of Trump even though not as much as Sanders. So logically, why would those voters who preferred Trump to Clinton (right to left) would change their minds and switch to an even more liberal guy or gal?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2017 - 01:24 pm.

          Trump voters can keep voting for Trump


          You’re assuming that the primary objective for Democrats is to turn over Trump voters, that’s simply not the case, nor is it necessary to win in the next election cycle. Trump didn’t win a majority of votes, he just won the election. In fact he lost the majority vote by almost 3 million. Democrats can and will have to plan on winning the next election cycle without those Trump votes. This isn’t a zero sum calculation, millions of liberals who could have put Clinton in the White House sat out this election, THAT’S how Trump won.

          Furthermore, we know that “left” and “right” were/are not deciding factors for independent voters, many of them would have voted for Sander’s had he been on the ballot, and in many open primaries they broke for Sanders instead of Trump.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2017 - 10:32 am.


            OK, but you forget that many independents who didn’t vote for Trump just because it was Trump. On the other hand, most liberals who didn’t bother to vote for Clinton are young; do you think they really know what they are voting for and understand the world or they are just buy into enthusiasm and feel good approach to everything. For example, did they realize that free college for all is impossible and no country on Earth does it?

            • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/18/2017 - 12:17 pm.

              $1.2 TRILLION in debt versus $0 in debt

              Hate to keep raining on the Alternative Facts Parade, but . . .

              “5 Countries that PAY students to go to school

              1) Sweden

              2) Denmark

              3) Australia

              4) Finland

              5) Nigeria”


              “7 countries where college is free

              “Two-thirds of American college students graduate with college debt, and that debt now tops $1.2 trillion. By every indication, college is now more expensive than it has ever been, out of reach of not only poor Americans, but even middle class ones. While various reforms made in the past few years may have helped slow the growth of college costs, they continue to outpace Americans’ ability to pay.

              “Although this is happening in the world’s richest country, there are many places abroad where college is virtually free.

              1) Brazil

              2) Germany

              3) Finland

              4) France

              5) Norway

              6) Slovenia

              7) Sweden

              “Although Noack’s [Washington Post] article focuses largely on countries where English speakers can easily gain access to low-cost or no-cost classes, it’s worth pointing out that even some of the poorest countries offer tuition-free college when our very-rich society doesn’t. Just one country south of the border, in Mexico, public college is nearly free; if a country in the midsts of a deadly drug war that has killed thousands of people can still afford to provide that an education to its citizens, why can’t the United States?”


              Good question, no? Hard to say for sure, but my guess is the “Financial Services Industry” really (really) LIKES the “American Higher Education Financing Model”:

              — Expensive schools that make two-thirds of American students dependent on that industry for “help” getting their degrees;

              — Higher than “market rate” interest rates that are non-negotiable; and

              — That wonderful (for the Financial Services Industry) law that SOME majority of legislators passed that makes it ILLEGAL for anyone with student loan debt to declare bankruptcy on that debt which is a completely unique situation that doesn’t apply to any other individual or business in America.

              Imagine what might have not have happened if it had been illegal for our president to declare bankruptcy in conjunction with any of his huge business failures (somewhere around $4 to $5 billion in “forgiven debt”). He’d be living in a cardboard box and would need somewhere around 500 lifetimes to pay everyone back.

              That particular law is similar to the law that SOME majority of legislators passed that made it ILLEGAL for Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, but that’s a different story (sort of).

              Once again, THAT’s the kind of thing you’re defending and constantly cranking out excuses and rationalizations for that appear to be coming straight off the top of your head as opposed to being based on any facts.

              “free college for all is impossible and no country on Earth does it.”

              You really ought to think about MAYbe doing five minutes worth of “homework” before making such sure and sweeping statements.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/19/2017 - 01:06 pm.

                Do they

                Do colleges in those countries accept EVERYONE? After doing my research, I believe that in most cases there are some entrance exams or other requirements to get in…

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/15/2017 - 06:21 am.

    Rural MN got hit the hardest when they started electing small guvment Republicans who delivered deficits and budget cuts and gridlock and shutdowns. The problem is that for some reason Democrats didn’t campaign on that fact in any coherent way

    The economy can be tough in rural areas. And they are always vulnerable to things beyond their control. A lot of stuff the state does for rural Minnesota makes things easier, but they don’t make things better. They also see the world often as a zero sum game; what’s good for the cities is bad for them. Dollars spend on senate office buildings are dollars taken away from stuff they care about. Trump tends to share that world view, and it’s a difficult nut to crack.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/15/2017 - 02:59 pm.

      Rural areas are hit by economy changes but Democrats don’t care because it (white, lower middle class, rural) is not their constituency anymore…

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/16/2017 - 12:56 pm.

        Another near-perfect example

        Earlier I said “everyone 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.”

        “Democrats don’t care because it (white, lower middle class, rural) is not their constituency anymore.”

        Excellent illustration.

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/16/2017 - 06:35 am.

    Rural areas are hit by economy changes but Democrats don’t care because it (white, lower middle class, rural) is not their constituency anymore…

    Sure we care but economy changes are hard to respond to. We can’t control markets easily. It is certainly not the case that rural legislators are bringing an agenda to the capitol that is going unaddressed.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2017 - 10:11 am.

      That is the problem

      Even if that is true, people usually don’t know exactly what is going on inside Washington but they see that media and politicians in their public speeches don’t pay any attention to rural areas…

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/17/2017 - 12:06 pm.


        There is quite a long list of things Democrats in the Minnesota legislature have done for rural Minnesota. The issues Republicans campaign on there, social issues, and things like the Senate Office Building are specific to rural issues. And they aren’t issues that amount to much once legislators get to St. Paul.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2017 - 10:21 am.

          Senate Office building was always brought up as a manifestation of money waste approach, not as an individual issue.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2017 - 08:19 am.

    See, this is the problem…

    Democrats HAD a candidate that knew how to connect to rural voters and address the economic concerns that Mr. Foster claims to be so difficult… they just refused to put that candidate on the ballot and adopt his campaign message.

    Don’t tell us how hard it is for Democrat’s when they had the most popular candidate on the ballot in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Sanders got more votes than any other candidate from any party in both states. The problem was when those voters went to the polls, Sanders (the most popular Democratic candidate) wasn’t on the ballot. Yet for some reason Democrats had assumed that these states would remain part of Clinton’s “Blue Firewall”.

    Meanwhile other Democratic candidates for some mysterious reason looked at Sanders’s campaign, and his wildly popular agenda and initiatives, and rejected them instead of embracing them… and now they wonder why they lost and complain about how hard it is to address economic fluctuations in rural areas? Sander’s handed Democrats a winning message and campaign model on silver platter… and they took a pass.

    The biggest problem American liberals have is that Democrats are the voice of liberalism in America. When you blow away all the smoke you find over and over again that the reason Democrats kept Sanders (and other progressives over the years) off the ballot and rejected his popular campaign message and agenda is that his campaign message and agenda… were liberal.

    Democrats aren’t going to win elections by being moderate republicans, they’ve been proving that for almost four decades. The problem with deciding that Eisenhower is your model rather than FDR is that Ike was a Republican, and he NEVER came close to FDR’s success or popularity. So don’t tell us that liberal’s don’t care or know how to connect with rural voters when it’s Democrats who refuse to be liberal that have that problem.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/17/2017 - 09:34 am.

      You’ve offered this point repeatedly, Paul, and it is true.

      But the question is why it continues to be true.

      In part, as you’ve noted, mainstream propaganda has worked hard to demonize and misrepresented support for liberal positions, and even those Democratic politicians with good motives have internalized that.

      But more fundamentally, it’s a structural problem. The Republican and Democratic establishments both serve wealth. This has not been a problem for the Republican establishment. The base it has strategically gathered is that part of the population of authoritarian inclination and the “us/them” mindset, who can be manipulated and distracted with appeals to fear, atavistic hate of the other, and the punishment of false enemies while its pockets are being picked. The Democratic base, however, are those whose political views are grounded on equal opportunity across society. This is not reconcilable with serving wealth. And when push comes to shove, the Democratic establishment must serve its clientele and not its base. Even the junior partner has ample room at the trough.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2017 - 10:47 am.

        Thank you Mr. Holtman

        At least I know one person is seeing my point!

        Your question is (and correct me if I’m wrong): Why are people Democrats despite the fact that the Party no longer espouses liberal agenda?

        We can go a deep or shallow as we want. Deep would be to look at books like:”Manufacturing Consent” and a whole host of other writings over the last 50 years. Shallow would be more concise:

        1) We have Democrats because we have a two party system which is essentially duopoly pretending to be an adversarial political landscape. i.e. both parties service the more or less the same elite and who else you gonna vote for anyways? When people try to dispute this I just refer them to the ALEC donor list a few years back, there were just as many “Democrats” on that list (i.e. the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation etc.)

        2) Liberals keep voting for Democrats because Democrats keep pulling a bait-n-switch. Like Clinton claiming to be “progressive”, and to some extent even Obama. I’ve watched Democrats show up at campaign rally’s for 40 years bragging about their support for labor, women’s rights, etc. Yet when they get into power they turn to Republicans for “workable” solutions while collective bargaining, racial equality, abortion rights, equal pay, etc. etc. etc. die on the vine.

        3) Democrats have essentially succeeded in obliterating any real voice of liberalism. In effect American’s don’t know what real liberals look like anymore. Many American’s THINK they’re liberal just because they vote for Democrats but reflexively reject any liberal initiative that appears in the political discourse. By restricting to the “voice” of American liberalism to Democrats, American liberals left without a viable choice, and either spin off into ineffective “movements” of some kind, stay home on election day, or vote for a Democrat and hope for the best.

        In many ways the whole tilted political landscape in the US can be summed up by the simple fact that most Americans have absolutely no idea what: “Neo-Liberalism” is despite the fact that it’s been the dominant political mentality in the US Since Jimmy Carter elected in 1976. If you look into the how’s and why-for’s of that fact…. you have your answer.

        • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/17/2017 - 01:48 pm.

          Actually, my question (and, I thought, yours) was

          just the flip side of that: Why does the Democratic establishment continue to pursue a center-right (neo-liberal) rather than liberal platform (you and I define “liberal” differently, but your definition is fine), even where a liberal platform would bring out its base and even attract non-Democrats? The answer is that the Democratic establishment, like the Republican establishment, answers to its patrons, not its base. However, whereas the interests of the Republican patrons and base can be bridged (wealth for the patrons, authoritarianism for the base), the interests of Democratic patrons and base (wealth for the few vs. opportunity for the many) are not readily reconciled.

          As to the converse question, why the base keeps voting for Democrats, your answers make sense. Only, I would put greater emphasis on the lesser-of-evils rationale that has been the justification for any presidential vote I have ever taken and that I presume motivates many or even most on the left: trying to do the least damage until a movement in a democratic direction can begin to gain traction. The irony of the 2016 election was that, for the first time, the voters actually had a viable candidate who sincerely espoused a platform for the welfare of the ordinary citizen and might have begun that movement. The best evidence that Trump supporters were motivated by the authoritarian appeal and not by economic populism is that if they had been motivated by the latter, Sanders would have won decisively in both the primary and the general.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2017 - 02:41 pm.

            Lesser of the evils

            I used to put more credit in the lesser of two evils rational until this election cycle. My interactions and arguments with so many “liberal” supporters of Clinton tilted the scales for me. Time and time again I found myself dealing with people who just reflexively rejected basic liberal initiatives like national health care systems as if they don’t already exist anywhere in the known universe. My experience is that many Clinton supporters simply could not imagine anything more liberal than voting for Hillary Clinton. I literally had arguments with “liberals” who claimed that basic liberal initiatives are akin to fantasies about unicorns and magic carpets, again, as if nobody anywhere in the world has affordable colleges, decent schools, health care, or rational energy policies. This tells me that people are little more confused about their own location on the political spectrum than I thought they were.

            • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/18/2017 - 08:31 am.

              I suppose you’re right

              Most Democratic voters I know recognize the neoliberal orientation of the Democratic establishment and are lesser-evil voters. But the outcome of the primary would seem to support your view.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2017 - 09:13 am.


                I think we’re saying the same thing, and I like the way you say it.

                My thing is that for decades someone says: “Let’s do something liberal” and Democrats reply: “No, if we do that we’ll lose elections”. I mean at some point you just have to admit your’re not dealing with liberals. Maybe in theory they could be liberals, but we don’t need theoretical liberalism.

                Meanwhile Republicans aren’t defeating liberals at the ballot box, they’re defeating Democrats. Democrats always try to blame their losses on excessive liberalism but THAT’S a conservative mentality in-and-of itself, so we’re back to an absence of liberalism. The more they move the the “middle” i.e. moderate republicanism, the more Democrats lose, yet they keep blaming liberals. Who does that? Conservatives do that, that;s who does that.

                The problem is we desperately need a liberal political Party in the United States because liberal initiatives are the only workable solutions to our most serious issues ranging from energy to education. Since we’re stuck with a two party system that means we need the Democrats to a liberal party. THAT’S not going to happen until Democrats who think they’re already liberal realize they’re not, decide if they want to be, and act accordingly one way or the other.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2017 - 09:34 am.

    The Blue Firewall

    Actually, to put a finer point on it, and getting back to the idea of this being a garbage analysis: The idea that Democrats could put their way way way least popular candidate at the top of their ticket, and still have a blue firewall in states that overwhelmingly went for Sanders, was a bizarre assumption. The outcome want’ unpredictable, Democrats just failed to predict it. Any analysis that starts with the assumption that something unpredictable happened cannot produce relevant observations.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/18/2017 - 10:44 am.

      Seems to me that your Progressive / True Liberal is what many call a Democratic Socialist. I mean that is what Bernie calls himself. Is this correct?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2017 - 12:56 pm.

        Yes and no

        Sanders’s calls himself a Democratic Socialist, but really he’s just a “New Deal” Democrat. The distinction isn’t really relevant, a liberal, simply put, is someone who supports liberal agendas and initiatives. Liberals can disagree regarding those initiatives but anyone who simply rejects them out of hand because they’re liberal initiatives, isn’t a liberal. So in theory liberals could disagree whether or not Obamacare or Medicare for All is the best health care system from a technical perspective, but anyone who rejects either proposal on the grounds that it’s “too” liberal simply isn’t a liberal.

        For decades whenever we say: “Let’s do something liberal” Democrats respond:”No, that will cost us the election”. And then they go out and lose elections trying to be something other than liberal. I’m not saying that no Democrats anywhere are liberal, but clearly the Party elite and too many primary voters are something other than liberal… I’d say they look like moderate conservatives who can be socially liberal, but politically and economically conservative. Whatever, I’m not actually interested in classifying them, people can be whatever they are, I don’t care. I just want people to know what they are and act accordingly. Don’t tell me you’re a liberal but you don’t believe liberals can win elections in a liberal democracy. Ether sign on to some other perspective or get liberal but don’t act and vote like a moderate Republican and tell us you’re a liberal Democrat.

  25. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/21/2017 - 06:36 am.


    Democrats HAD a candidate that knew how to connect to rural voters and address the economic concerns that Mr. Foster claims to be so difficult.

    Who was that?

    There is a lot of finger pointing going around. A recent book places just about all of the blame on Hillary. No doubt a lot of mistakes were made by a lot of people, but the real problem is that we didn’t have the choice of candidates we needed, Hillary, with all her faults and with all her many virtues, was our party’s version of Jeb Bush, a dynastic candidate, running when the era of dynasties is long past. Had Hillary been running in a more filled out field for the nomination, I doubt if she would have made it to the first primary. But the fact was, because of our failures in local election after local election, we simply did not have a viable alternative to Hillary in 2016, and that’s why Trump’s re-election, despite his extraordinary level of incompetence, is as much of a sure thing there can be in American politics.

  26. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/15/2017 - 09:50 am.

    This is why

    Mr. Udstrand made a point that Franken was winning easily; hence, my numbers. Trump’s numbers are irrelevant. And of course, this was the last and least important point of my post and no one attempted to refute the rest of them.

  27. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/17/2017 - 08:33 am.

    I did not respond to your points

    because no points were made. First you ask me to tutor you on the history of U.S. political propaganda over the past 50 years, which I don’t have an interest in doing. Then you offer yet again the analytically unilluminated thought that leftism is about redistribution. You close by repeating the factually unsupported and analytically incoherent mainstream talking points about hurt feelings and forced silence by mean leftists.

    The point of my post is that establishment political propaganda replaces the true opposition in our society (concentrated power/opportunity vs. distributed power/opportunity) with a false and incoherent left-right opposition. Your response is to repeat the tired left-right talking points of the administered mainstream political propaganda. This doesn’t indicate a basis for dialogue.

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