DNC Rural Council Snubs Wisconsin

Politicians, rural issues in other states included in meeting, Dairy State ignored.

By - Aug 19th, 2020 05:50 pm
Dairy farm. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND).

Dairy farm. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND).

After President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 23,000 votes in 2016, the Democratic party put a renewed focus on the state and its issues — including naming Milwaukee the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Now that the 2020 presidential campaign is here and the convention has been moved to a virtual format because of the COVID-19 pandemic, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden still needs to win in the crucial swing state to win the White House.

But after “Hillary never campaigned in Wisconsin” became a political cliché following 2016, Wisconsin is still being left out of the conversation.

In a nearly two-hour virtual meeting of the DNC’s rural council, which covered the issues and policies Democrats need to focus on in order to win over rural voters, Wisconsin wasn’t mentioned once.

Politicians from Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Texas and South Carolina spoke to the council and the rural issues of half a dozen other states were highlighted — yet the dairy state, the nominal host of the 2020 DNC, was nowhere to be seen.

Held just days after the first meeting of Gov. Tony Evers’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity, the rural council discussed problems familiar to Wisconsin’s rural communities, in a state that is number one for farm bankruptcies in the nation. .

All of Wisconsin’s immediate neighbors — Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota — were mentioned and three of them had representatives speak. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Iowa State Rep. Ras Smith and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow all discussed the challenges of rural people in their states.

While each place has its own unique challenges, many rural places struggle with the same obstacles.

Improving rural broadband access, especially with school continuing virtually this fall, was mentioned frequently by Bustos, South Carolina senate candidate Jaime Harrison and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. About a quarter of rural Wisconsinites don’t have access to at least one broadband internet provider.

Espy, currently a senate candidate in Mississippi, also advocated for expanding Medicaid in his state — one of 12 state governments that haven’t passed such a measure. Espy said expanding Medicaid can greatly improve access to healthcare for rural Americans while preventing the demise of rural hospitals.

Wisconsin is another one of those 12 states that hasn’t passed a Medicaid expansion.

Vilsack, who was the Secretary of Agriculture under President Barack Obama, also discussed policy solutions to climate change that are centered in rural America. Policies such as carbon sequestration, renewable energy production and sustainable infrastructure that would mean jobs for rural people and changes in farming techniques.

Many of the climate policies Vilsack brought up were also discussed last week at the virtual summer meeting of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.

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3 thoughts on “DNC Rural Council Snubs Wisconsin”

  1. mr_cox says:

    The Democratic Party organizing continues to disappoint. They seem incapable of thinking independently of their consultants or of learning from past mistakes. Including representation of rural Wisconsin would have had tremendous impact, especially when considering the outreach that has occurred to rural Wisconsinites since 2016. A glaring failure.

  2. Elisa Castellon says:

    Thank you for this article. I was a Wisconsinite for over 40 years and now live in Virginia. I am appalled at the DNC and they are going to hear from me right now. I just arrived in Milwaukee.

  3. weitenma83 says:

    Definitely a glaring error. Trump policies have been bad for Wisconsin farmers. He is very vulnerable in the rural areas, but the Dems need to have a program. The Republicans favor big, corporate farms because they are big donators. Biden needs to make at least one trip to Wis. and hold a town hall meeting in a rural area to address rural issues.

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