Rural America: Stop, reverse, revitalize

Posted in Vibrant Rural

Today, the Daily Yonder took a deep look into a recent poll released by the Center for Rural Affairs. In their article, they summarize the poll’s findings while answering the central question: Will rural be better off in four years? The response seems split. Younger rural residents are generally optimistic about the future, while there’s an overall concern that small towns are dying.

The article explains

Nine in 10 Rural Americans say the rural and small-town way of life is worth fighting for, according to a poll commissioned by the Center for Rural Affairs and conducted by the bipartisan polling team of Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group.

But nearly seven in 10 fear small town life may be dying.

“They want to stop it, reverse it and revitalize rural America,” said pollsters Lake and Goeas.

So how do we stop, reverse and revitalize? The answer, it seems, is found in government.

[Rural Americans] “believe they are being ignored by politicians and government and blame them for the state of the rural economy.” The poll found that three-fourths of rural voters believe politicians ignore problems in rural and small-town America while paying more attention to the issues of urban and suburban areas.

However, the role government plays in Rural America is up for discussion.

The poll found divided views about the role of government and populist views about the economy and big institutions.  Three-fourths agree that America’s future is weakened by a widening gap between the rich and families struggling to make ends meet. And six in 10 said it’s harder to make a go of it in rural America than in cities. (More about the poll.)

But they split evenly on whether it’s time for government to play a stronger role in strengthening rural communities and making the economy work for the average person in rural and small-town America, or whether “turning to big government to solve our problems will do more harm than good.”

Stay tuned next week for guest Outposts blogger, and Minnesota Compass researcher, Jane Tigan as she looks at the question: the economy is improving in Minnesota, so why doesn’t it feel like it?