Prescient Politics of Resentment

In The Politics of Resentment, Cramer illustrates how the burdens and concerns of rural Wisconsinites are, at their core economic and, no different from urbanites and other states’ citizens.

What makes rural politics distinct is the interpretation of the cause and potential solutions to those problems, chiefly regarding the government itself. The two camps of views she found, government is too big or just corrupt, are both motivated by the lack of recognition for rural residents. This holds true even when their other opinions differ, or contradict what is stereotypical of rurality. White preference/racial prejudice don’t correlate, both camps value contributions to community, want a stable town economy that rewards hard work, etc. Cramer approaches the notion that more attention and government spending could improve their lives; that it is a matter of proportional allocation and Media recognition rather than a core principle against welfare and educational programs themselves which lead rural residents to advocate against such programs. Yet, in my own experience, the urban poor (white, black, etc.) also view the government and its employees as corrupt, taking more than they contribute, improper budget allocators, and unattentive to their needs and wishes. The two vectors – relative wealth and relative proximity to central cities, both contribute to these notions of government size and ethical standing. Thus, what divides these camps is differing views on how to solve it. Such solutions correlate to geography more than anything else does.

Perhaps it is only because wealth is improperly distributed in the first place that this debate is central to public unity and improving the quality of life inclusively. At the core of the problem is the need to ask two questions: 1- Can government ever be structured such that corruption and budget allocation can truly fulfill the needs of its citizens and prevent officials/representatives from taking advantage of their position?  2- Is there a way to regulate the economy and structure towns and counties such that its citizens don’t require such drastic redistribution in the first place? In the end, only one of these questions needs a positive answer. If our country and composite states were to enforce economic/financial regulation in such a way that small business owners and consumers were able to function without hardship, we wouldn’t need big government and such fine-tuned redistribution via taxes. On the other hand, if government structure could be virtually corruption-proof, redistribution effective and proportional, and helpful to those in need without making the hard work of those with a more rigorous lifestyle devalued, we wouldn’t be so concerned with regulation of big business and big finance.