Columbus, OH—Presidential candidates, Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, largely ignored all substantive issues -- rural issues included -- during their first debate last night.
Now, rural leaders are coming together to make sure that critical rural issues are not ignored during the remainder of the 2020 election season. 1 in 5 voters call 'rural America' home and these voters are looking for solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities in modern US history. These challenges include the COVID-19 pandemic growing rapidly in our rural communities, catastrophic wildfires displacing thousands of rural people and the rural economy reaching near depression-mode in places.
The following are statements from rural advocacy leaders from across the country.
Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org said:
Most issues, including rural issues, were largely ignored during the first presidential debate last night. Rural voters deserve a dignified debate about the catastrophic challenges facing our communities. We want common sense solutions that raise our wages, decrease our daily expenses and improve the quality of life in rural communities.
Last night was an embarrassment for all Americans. The President prevented a discussion of any issues, embraced white nationalists and promoted voter suppression. We know the dangers of these words. There are so many critical issues that warrant discussion. But that’s not what we got. Instead, we got more of the President trying to pit people against each other.
Jake Davis, Rural Policy and Political Strategist said:
A debate in the state of Ohio with more than 2.3 million rural residents and over 77,000 farms should have included at least a mention of rural communities and farmers struggling to deal with COVID, an economic crisis and crumbling public infrastructure. Instead, the American people, including those in rural communities, were the clear losers headlined most notably by President Trump’s call for his supporters to watch the polls as a voter intimidation tactic.
Krissy Kasserman of Food & Water Action said:
Rural America has been left out of the political discourse in this country for far too long, and last night's debate was no exception. People living in rural areas are facing monumental challenges, including but certainly not limited to increasing consolidation in agriculture, declining farm earnings, the hollowing out of rural communities and worsening impacts from the pandemic. Many critical battleground states, including Ohio where last night's debate was held, have significant rural populations. The failure of candidates to address the issues that matter most to rural people will only further disenfranchise voters in the swing states that are key to winning the 2020 presidential election.
Cody Atkinson of Family Farm Action said:
The debate last night witnessed by millions of Americans failed to address the issue of corporate control of our farm and food system and the devastating economic and environmental consequences of unhampered monopoly power. We hope the candidates use the next debate as a stage to give substantive answers on how they plan to tackle this serious problem.
The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.