Every election year has its nuances. Add in a pandemic, riots and extreme polarization of those with different views, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an upset stomach heading into the final days before the 2020 election.
I often say, “I like policy, not politics. Too often, politics get in the way of good policy.” I cover agricultural policy every day, and there's no doubt that politics continue to get in the way of good policy. That doesn’t look to change no matter the outcome of Nov. 3 (and the millions of votes cast ahead of Election Day this year).
What I see going on makes me sick to my stomach. The scare tactics. The threats. The further divide that is growing between rural and urban America.
I’ve always had such admiration for House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) He’s a straight shooter whose frankness and persevering work ethic resonates with farmers. He was one of the founding members of the Blue Dog Coalition, and during his time as chairman of the agriculture committee from 2007 to 2011 and again since 2019, he has always tried to bridge that growing disconnect between rural and urban interests.
Yet, he’s in a tough re-election race, and that important Democrat voice could be lost for farmers. He has the ear of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.), which we all know is important for rural interests.
The polarization that has happened since the election of President Donald Trump and the shift from rural voters leaning Republican and suburban and urban voters leaning Democrat has only intensified the urban rural divide, Peterson said in a recent podcast for the International Dairy Food Assn. (IDFA). Peterson said that divide and further polarization is “the most dangerous thing going on in agriculture.”
Peterson would like to see more Democrats devoted to rural and agricultural issues. He said, “We hardly have anyone left like me in a farm or rural district that is a Democrat, and that’s a problem, because you can’t get anything done in [Congress] that’s going to have any longevity or that is going to stick unless you have both parties doing it.”
When he was a chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in 2007, there were other Democrats on his committee with a solid understanding of agriculture. However, many of those lawmakers were wiped out in the 2010 election. “When we took over this time in 2018, we could not get enough Democrats to be on the ag committee,” Peterson said. Even the Republican members may come from rural districts but don’t have a background in farming. “They’re not a 4-H kid like I am,” Peterson said.
That understanding of agriculture is needed on both sides of the aisle.
“What we believe is needed in rural America urban people don’t understand. They’re fed a lot of propaganda,” Peterson said of his urban counterparts. “It’s a challenge, but we’re working on it.”
Election years tend to bring out the worst in people. Smear campaigns often paint a mischaracterization of individuals. Instead, seek out those with the same values as you when voting on whom to send to Washington, D.C., or your local government.
Just last night, my husband and I were discussing the upcoming elections, and he said if people looked at the fruits of those in power, it would be easier to make decisions.
This election year, be educated on how each candidate will approach the issues facing rural America. (Also, check out our exclusive Trump vs. Biden comparison on 10 ag issues.) Look for those fruits.
In more than one interview this fall I’ve said, “We’re not a red country, or a blue country. We’re the United States of America.” At the end of the day, let’s pray that we can find a way to preserve the country we all love and recognize that working together benefits everyone.