From: Steven Bullock, Governor of Montana

To: My Fellow Democrats

Subject: You Need to Get Out of the City More

Excerpted from New York Times, Steven Bullock, December 3, 2021: “I Was the Governor of Montana. My Fellow Democrats, You Need to Get Out of the City More.

I take no joy in sounding the alarm, but I do so as a proud Democrat who has won three statewide races in a rural, red-state — the Democrats are in trouble in rural America, and their struggles there could doom the party in 2022.

The warning signs were already there in 2020 when Democrats fell short in congressional and state races despite electing Joe Biden president. I know because I was on the ballot for U.S. Senate and lost. In the last decade and a half, we’ve seen Senate seats flip red in Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and more. Democrats have lost more than 900 state legislative seats around the country since 2008. And in this year’s governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, we saw the Democratic vote in rural areas plummet, costing the party one seat and nearly losing us the other. It was even worse for Democrats down-ballot, as Democrats lost state legislative, county, and municipal seats.

The core problem is a familiar one — Democrats are out of touch with the needs of the ordinary voter. In 2021, voters watched Congress debate for months the cost of an infrastructure bill while holding a social spending bill hostage. Both measures contain policies that address the challenges Americans across the country face. Yet to anyone outside the Beltway, the infighting and procedural brinkmanship haven’t done a lick to meet their needs at a moment of health challenges, inflation, and economic struggles. You had Democrats fighting Democrats, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and desperately needed progress was delayed. It’s no wonder rural voters think Democrats are not focused on helping them.

To overcome these obstacles, Democrats need to show up, listen, and respect voters in rural America by finding common ground instead of talking down to them.

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