Despite being continually screwed by the GOP, rural voters keep voting for them, election after election. Every Tuesday after the first Monday in November, there's a parking lot full of pickup trucks at the local high school, all with the GOP stickers du jour plastered all over their vehicles.
There's a weathered sugar cane farmer with the soot from burning the fields still covering his 1987 Dodge like a fine powder. Deep down inside, he probably knows that two men having the right to get married doesn't affect him in any way. Sure, he thinks it is strange but he cares more about the price of a tank of gas for the tractor, a case of Schlitz or a box of shotgun shells for squirrel season.
There's a mother of four kids in an SUV clutching her third cup of coffee for the morning. She doesn't really think that raising the tax rate on the highest earners will cause any harm to her. She's more concerned with the weekly grocery bill or that the family's income has decreased while the cost of everything has climbed.
What they, and the majority of the other people lined up to vote don't understand, is that all of this is intertwined and they're being taken for a ride every November. They've been sold a shit sandwich and told it was the best cheeseburger ever. They've bought into jingoistic patriotism complete with a plastic American flag from the factory in China where their jobs went, and the people who did it are laughing all the way to their banks in the Cayman Islands. We're probably more divided as a nation now than any other time since 1865, and it's all for a few extra billion in the pockets of just a few hundred people in the entire world.
How has this happened? How are all of these people so goddamn blind? The fact of the matter is that the GOP has managed to lock down much of the rural and working class vote by pretending they "get it". Look at the campaign ads every cycle that show the politician with his dog and shotgun in the duck blind, or the recent flyer I got in the mail for Scott Angelle who is running for Public Service Commissioner here in Louisiana. It shows him with his pretty little family and it basically says "I'm just like you, right down the picture that looks like it was shot in a JCPenney's in 1996". They've done one hell of job convincing their constituents their policies will open the magical floodgates of trickle-down and bring jobs.
Progressive politicians have had this disconnect with these voters for a long time because they're stuck with the stereotype of being urban elitists and they rarely do anything to turn that around. People like President Obama will forever be seen as "city boys" because they are, and they don't try to pander.
Most of the GOP politicians haven't had to do a hard day's work in the fields, crawfish ponds or the factories but they have no problem pretending they're down to earth, working class folks who got successful through rugged individualism and hard work. They'll pander without shame. Look at Mitt Romney kissing the ass of every person he sees a potential vote with remarks about "cheesy grits" and using the word "y'all" like he's been using it all his life. Talk about elitist and out of touch.
The problem is that people want easy, quick slogans and answers pre-assembled and handed to them like a Happy Meal at McDonald's drive-thru. You can't explain the complexities of international economics in a slick 30 second political ad. You can't explain how spending a few cents more for a product from a local business rather than a big box store makes a community more prosperous in between the flashy ads for new televisions and the screaming pundits on the evening news commentary. Like a herd of sheep, they stare at the screen, blink and nod, then shuffle off to the polls once again to pull the lever for every candidate who waved the flag the hardest and added a little drawl to their delivery.
Yeah, we're pretty much fucked.