Relief, Recovery, and Reimagination
Since the 2016 election, a major topic of political news coverage has been speculation about rural communities: who lives there, what they think and who they vote for. Running through most of these stories is a prediction that the polarization of the current political moment has hardened into a permanent urban-rural divide. Many in the political establishment seem to assume that it isn’t worth the effort to compete for rural votes.
We don’t think that needs to be the case.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic collapse it triggered have made it impossible to ignore some basic truths about our economic and political systems – they don’t take care of anyone but big corporations and the wealthy few.
As we enter an election season trying to navigate the worst economic and health crisis in a century, it’s time for a real debate about what kind of system we build to replace what just collapsed in rural communities and small towns.
This is our vision for Relief, Recovery, and Reimagination for rural communities and small towns.
- Provide economic relief directly to people, including direct payments to individuals and expanded unemployment insurance, increased food assistance such as SNAP, WIC and school feeding programs, housing assistance, affordable childcare, student debt relief and broadband access.
- Establish a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and shut-offs of water and electricity.
- Provide financial help to local and state governments, which are facing devastating budget cuts because of increased costs and decreased tax revenues.
- Don’t make people choose between their health and their vote, by expanding vote by mail and protecting the U.S. Postal Service, and providing funding and support to keep polls safe and accessible.
- Increase the minimum wage.
- Establish a federal Jobs Guarantee.
- Require paid sick leave for all workers.
- Expand access to affordable childcare and invest in rural education systems.
- Invest in rebuilding our infrastructure, including water systems, broadband internet access, schools, and roads
and transportation infrastructure.
- Establish a postal banking system to provide services to underbanked rural communities.
- Establish a moratorium on factory farms, with support for the transition of existing operations to more sustainable production methods.
- Establish supply management programs, including grain reserves and parity pricing programs for commodity crops.
See the full report for the full range of systemic changes needed to support and restore rural America.