Why Democrats Keep Losing Rural Counties Like Mine

Why Democrats Keep Losing Rural Counties Like Mine


I’m the chair of the local Democratic Party in a Wisconsin county that Donald Trump won. It wasn’t for a lack of progressive organizing. It was because national Democrats have failed communities like mine.

I am a sixth-generation native of Dunn County in rural west-central Wisconsin, a rolling landscape of forested ridges and farmed valleys, tied together by twisting roads and meandering rivers. My ancestors came here 150 years ago and farmed 6 miles south of where my wife and I currently raise our family. With a population of 45,000, Dunn County is a swing county in a swing state: The county went for Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, then for Donald Trump in 2016.

After Trump’s election, I was one of those people who stepped off the sidelines. On election night, I turned off the television as the race was being called, climbed into the bed of my sleeping 5-year-old son, Frankie, and lay there in the dark with him, wondering what this would mean for his future. As a longtime political independent, I decided to join a political party for the first time in my life, and by 2019, I became chair of the Dunn County Democratic Party. It turned out many others here felt the way I did about Trump.

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