Rural voters, awake! Why vote GOP?

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By Rick Howell

I’m going to make a bold prediction about next week’s election: While losing decisively across the state, Ken Cuccinelli will carry Bedford, Amherst, and Campbell counties by wide margins.
    Okay, you can stop chuckling. It’s not very “bold” to predict that “Cooch” will lose, and it’s anything but bold to say he’ll take the majority of votes in the rural communities of Central Virginia.
    What is it about politics and rural life? People here seem to vote Republican almost as a bodily function. They eat; they sleep; they heed nature’s calls; and on Election Day, they vote Republican.
    Why? Before I answer that question, I’ll say this: The roughly 69 percent of voters from the three local counties who voted for Mitt Romney last year couldn’t change the outcome of the national election (thank goodness!).
    But this year, with many seats in the Virginia General Assembly at stake, rural voters will no doubt see to it that the House of Delegates in Richmond continues to look a lot like the House in Washington: occupied by far right, “tea party” types obsessed with “social issues” and “Obamacare.”
    And that’s a shame. It’s shameful because so many mainstream, mostly moderate, some liberal, Democratic candidates just don’t have a chance against this stoic mindset. Some very good people who would serve their constituents well can’t break through the rural GOP voting habit.
    If we examine why, we’ll ruffle some feathers, but truth must be served, right? It starts, of course, with the fundamentalist Christian churches, and they’re as numerous in rural areas as the rocks and the trees.
    These churches don’t seem to worry much about poverty or anything related to economics. But they’re unable to accept the changing social mores that have defined America in recent decades. Thus, the obsessions with abortion and homosexuality.
    It’s this kind of cultural atmosphere that keeps alive the political careers of people such as Kathy Byron, an abortion-obsessed delegate who spends every year in the state legislature voting for “personhood” amendments, and any crazy anti-abortion law proposed by Delegate Bob Marshall.
    But if you’re struggling economically, you have to begin to understand that by voting GOP, you won’t “stop abortion,” but you will give more power to a party that has one essential goal: to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
    It was Jerry Falwell and his minions who deceived so many people into voting Republican over “social issues,” and thereby ignoring the fact that Republicans only serve the haves in this country; not have-nots.
    So, I never have much hope for good Democratic candidates in these rural districts. And, again, it’s a shame.
    Katie Webb Cyphert is an excellent candidate in Byron’s district, but her candidacy is probably doomed because of this rural Republican habit. The same is true for all of the legislative districts in this area.
    What has to be shattered here is the very notion of “Christian conservatism” itself. In reality, there is nothing Christian about conservatism, which is mostly based on selfishness and greed.
    The late John Kenneth Galbraith put it best: “The conservatives have the toughest job in politics, trying to put a moral cover on what is basically selfishness.”
    One of our former presidents, a Baptist Sunday School teacher named Jimmy Carter, never had any illusions about “Christian conservatism.”
    He said: “If you don’t want your tax dollars to go toward helping the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t.”
    Rural voters, please. Think again about the consequences of your vote. Don’t support – for any reason – the very people who keep so many of you poor.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com