AuthorConniff, Ruth

Vice President Mike Pence has been working the Midwest, holding rallies touting the Trump Administration's fantastic job-creation record and the great economy before the pandemic hit. Never mind that, during the pandemic, Trump's bungling has not only tanked the economy and caused Depression-era rates of job loss, but cost the lives of tens of thousands of people who would not have died had the government taken COVID-19 seriously.

Denial is Trump and the Republican Party's campaign strategy--along with a deeply cynical and racist call for "law and order," meaning a violent crackdown on Black Lives Matter protesters who are reacting to police killings of Black people.

The law-and-order message is a convenient distraction from how disastrously Trump has governed. But as bad as things are, it's not at all clear that Trump will lose.

Driving around western Wisconsin talking to farmers in a region where giant Trump banners wave over fields of corn, I came to the conclusion that, despite all the upheaval of the last four years, little has changed, politically, in rural Wisconsin since 2016.

Wisconsin farmers who voted for Trump in 2016 have since endured a record run of low milk prices, the highest rate of farm bankruptcies in the nation, and Trump policies that have made things considerably worse, including trade wars and tariffs that wreaked havoc on commodity prices (especially on Wisconsin cheese). The pandemic has caused even more economic pain. Yet many rural Wisconsinites I checked in with are once again planning to vote for Trump.

Part of the explanation is a deep cultural conservatism in rural areas.

It also doesn't hurt that a lot of dairy farmers have received a huge infusion of federal cash over the past few months. After four years of terrible economic news, thanks to the CARES Act, U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, and other pandemic-relief aid, they are ending 2020 in their best financial shape in recent memory.

Some farmers I interviewed are Obama/Trump voters. And what they liked about Barack Obama in 2008 is the same thing they like about Trump. Even after four years in office, they see him as an outsider, not a slick Washington politician, someone who sticks up for America and for working-class and rural people.

We are living through this colossally incompetent administration, which has caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths by neglecting public health. On top of that, people are rising up from coast to coast...

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