I am from Oklahoma. I am not a rural resident, nor do I have any considerable knowledge of agrarian spectrums or energy resources. I do know, however, that my state’s economy thrives off of the crude oil industry. Oklahoma has proved itself a utopia for fracking and other drilling methods. The industry has turned some men into millionaires, even billionaires. And lots of other Oklahomans work in the oil fields, which provides a myriad of jobs. For the most part, the oil industry is a great thing in Oklahoma, and a great thing nationally.
That’s why the Republicans wanted it. They saw an opportunity to become what they rarely are: loved and respected. That’s how they turned Oklahoma red. By negatively contorting economic methods other than neo-capitalism, the GOP appealed to the oil barons, the miners, the farmers, and the electric sector. Their plan, looking back, is frighteningly simple; work towards donations from major CEOs, win total votes from companies, and support domestic consumerism. Domestic consumerism is not at all a bad thing, and I support local farms and businesses myself. But the Grand Old Party did this in the only way they knew how: through disgustingly distorted propaganda.
The Republican party never really supported rural areas. They just said they did, because they generalized Democrats as anti-capitalists, urbanized, corporate rich people who couldn’t care less about farmers and wanted only environmentally-friendly energy sources. By doing this, the Republican party won over farmers, miners, and blue-collar workers alike. But here’s the problem:
The Republican Party still needs money! They knew they couldn’t get it from corn fields or coal mines, so they went to the corporate business owners and executives, who lived in the city; The exact people they painted the Democratic party as. This is how they gained the support from oil companies. If a petroleum engineer and a lineman both see that their boss is supporting a Republican, not only are they going to vote for that Republican because their boss did, but because they truly believe it will bring more money to their pockets.
Since 1990, more than two-thirds of the oil and gas industries donations have gone to Republicans. Koch Industries gave just under $5,000,000 in 2017.
The vast majority of Democrats, by the way, do want renewable energy prioritized over fossil fuels. And, this is the better long-term solution, economically and environmentally. Barack Obama’s regulations on coal mining were an improvement for the environment. And, though it did mean less money for coal companies, it would mean more money to environmentally-friendly energy companies. President Trump and the EPA has prioritized rescinding legislation on coal capacity laws, and on oil and gas exploration. This would actually be worse for the coal industry, because the oil and gas industry would substantially outcompete and earn more than the coal industry, according to a presentation from Brattle Group analyst Mark Chupka. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Scott Pruitt has tried to debunk this argument: “Since the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs,” Pruitt stated on June 4th, 2017. This is blatantly false because according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a total of 50,000 coal and mining jobs in the country. The Republican party just seems like they aren’t negligent.
According to Gallup, rural areas are considerably more religious than those in urban communities. The Democratic Party’s acceptance and tolerance of all walks of faith have hurt them in rural areas, meaning that is not their fault at all. So what can the Democrats do? They need to help rural communities economically. Through education funding, infrastructure, and national park services, government funding can prove to be the opposite of detrimental to rural areas. Once residents see that their towns are being improved by Democratic-elected legislators, it’ll be hard to vote them out.
Another thing Democrats can do is to support domestically grown crops and support American built products. This will easily value the agricultural circulation. As long as the Democrats do the right thing, instead of what the Republican party did, they can not only win back rural residents but actually help them as well.