Finally, a story comes from the Tennessean about how rural voters are sick and tired of hearing candidates talk about jobs but not have a concrete plan.
The economy — creating jobs and lowering unemployment — is by far the most important issue in this year’s elections, voters across the state say. But in town squares and truck stops, restaurants and fields, many Tennesseans remain uncertain what the next governor and state legislature can do to solve the economic challenges that have bedeviled the state’s rural communities for more than two decades.
Chas Sisk is citing things in this story that I have been talking about for a long time. Rural communities are working hard to bring jobs back that have left to head overseas. Finding a job in the current environment (and my point of reference is west Tennessee) is nearly impossible unless you have an “in” with someone who can make a difference and those folks are hard to find these days. Over the past two weeks alone I have heard several people that say they are going to have to move because “there just isn’t anything here” from two separate counties. Another house in our community has gone on the market due to the father to three boys losing his job last summer. He has gone to school to learn a new trade but the jobs just aren’t here.
The issue comes to that a once thriving manufacturing boom for this area honestly ended it’s run more than 40 years ago. Within the last 10 years, needle and thread companies, shoe factories and countless others have closed their doors. The economic situation was set on manufacturing and goods production and there wasn’t much left after those opportunities were gone. No major industries has replaced those that are now abandoned buildings and other than agriculture, which still thrives although we have seen several drought years, the dependency on manufacturing has left an impossible hole that has not been filled. Community leaders have fought diligently to bring industry back, but small business in many areas is what is left and those jobs are not as solid as they once were. Big industry leaves but it impacts small companies.
In a poll published yesterday in the Commercial Appeal, the answer was clear on where voters stood on the issues:
The Mason-Dixon Tennessee Poll, conducted for the Tennessee Newspaper Network & WBIR-TV of Knoxville, asked 625 registered voters across Tennessee the opened-ended question, “What do you feel is the single most important state issue facing Tennessee today?”
Government spending/taxes/state budget: 22%
Health care: 8%
Environment/growth and sprawl: 1%
Social issues/family values/abortion/gay rights: 1%
Other issues/not sure: 2%
I have heard repeated (and thought it myself, quite frankly) that rural voters are tired of being put into a box, stereotyped by Washington and Nashville to a large degree as well, on what they need when many of these people have never made it off I-40.
Candidates across the state are wanting the rural vote. The issue comes down to that rural voters are not engaged right now with the political spin in the least and those votes are going to be hard-earned in this economy.
Rural voters could care less right now because they are too busy trying to find jobs.