Ag Secretary Vilsack's blunt criticism of rural voter political tactics received a lot of headlines in the press.
Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks found that rural voters accounted for just 14 percent of the turnout in last month’s election, with 61 percent of them supporting Republican Mitt Romney and 37 percent backing President Barack Obama. Two-thirds of those rural voters said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.Vilsack criticized farmers who have embraced wedge issues such as regulation, citing the uproar over the idea that the Environmental Protection Agency was going to start regulating farm dust after the Obama administration said repeatedly it had no so such intention.In his Washington speech, he also cited criticism of a proposed Labor Department regulation, later dropped, that was intended to keep younger children away from the most dangerous farm jobs, and criticism of egg producers for dealing with the Humane Society on increasing the space that hens have in their coops. Livestock producers fearing they will be the next target of animal rights advocates have tried to undo that agreement. [More][My emphasis]
I'll grant that Visack is not a charmer at his most congenial, but while his assertion has some validity, I suspect the larger problem is the intense gerrymandering that has created rural districts so heavily Red that representatives can get away with anything secure in the knowledge that ideology will trigger an automatic response in the voting booth.
Democrats have been packed into three uncompetitive seats around Philadelphia, an uncompetitive seat in the Lehigh Valley, and a safe seat in Pittsburgh. The state's suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas have been rigged to be just outside the range where Democrats might win them. [More]
Note also the cognitive dissonance in demanding a new farm bill with an indisputably lavish safety net for grain producers and the emphasized statement above. If I were a rural legislator in a blood-red district all I would fear is an even redder primary opponent. The irony here is the far, far right is the biggest threat to farm subsidies.