By Henry Redman
In a time of overlapping crises, rural Wisconsin shifted further to the right in 2020, voting overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump by often higher margins than in 2016.
But in just over a month, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in and the hard work of governing, amid gridlock in Congress and intransigence in the Wisconsin State Legislature, will begin. That governing will take place as many rural Wisconsinites lack adequate housing or internet access, wages in many jobs remain low and family farms are dying every day.
Rural areas across the country swung toward Trump in 2020, in what became a wave election for both Democrats and Republicans — driving turnout up across the board, according to Matt Hildreth, executive director at RuralOrganizing.org.
Hildreth’s organization works to advocate for progressive policies in rural communities across the country. He’s found that there can be a disconnect between the politicians rural voters support and the policies they want to see enacted. For example, in this election voters in Florida and South Dakota selected Trump while voting to raise the minimum wage and legalize cannabis — two causes Trump opposes.
“Our polling shows that rural voters connected with Donald Trump’s promise to ‘drain the swamp’ because rural voters feel that they have been left behind by powerful people, who think Donald Trump is a powerful person who truly cares about them,” Hildreth said on a virtual roundtable of rural experts. “It’s not just about showing up. It’s about showing up with a plan. We need to show rural voters we are fighting for them.