Today, the House of Representatives will vote on a “farm policy only” farm bill. The GOP, in power in the House, sees separating the farm portion of the bill and the food stamp portion of the bill as the only way to move forward. This says considerably more about our country than you might first expect.
Yes, it makes a statement about Republicans and Democrats not being able to work together. Yes, it makes a statement about the dysfunction in our House and their inability to get ANYTHING accomplished, even bills that historically are easy to negotiate and usually pass without fail.
But more importantly, it makes a statement about the very large and ever-widening divide that plagues our country, a chasm between the agricultural roots of the nation and it’s every increasing urban population.
The U.S. has now morphed into a nation of city-dwellers. One-in-four Americans now live in just 9 cities, each with a population of over 5 million. More than half of all Americans, 55 percent, live in cities with a population of 1 million or more.
As you might imagine, most of our legislators serve these populations as their constituents. In fact, only about 60 House members have any meaningful portion of their district in a rural area or any significant sectors of their constituents as farmers.
As the two sectors of Americans grow further and further apart, as urban dwellers lose connection with their agrarian neighbors, the country literally begins to split down the middle – and that’s exactly what the “great divide” of the farm bill signifies.
Let’s use Illinois as an example. During the 2010 gubernatorial election, Governor Quinn was pitted against Rep. Bill Brady. Although Brady won the vote in 98 of Illinois’ 102 counties, Governor Quinn was elected our next governor. Why would Gov. Quinn feel any calling to serve or consider the interests of the people in the remaining 98 counties? He doesn’t need them to get reelected. Their needs essentially don’t matter.
Yet the Illinois economy is founded on agriculture and trade. The livestock facilities that Governor Quinn fights against are the very economic engine that used to drive the state. The grain trade occurring up and down the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers are the economic drivers keeping families working and goods moving throughout the state, yet we have no lock and dam repair. The very backbone of the Illinois economy is faltering, and any American who watches the news would see that we are in quite a predicament.
In the Bible, Mark 3:25, we read, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Is this America’s future?
One-in-four Americans live in the city. The remaining live in rural areas, but even of that small portion, only 2 percent of American’s are actually involved in the act of farming. What we are actually seeing is a tear in the fabric that ties Americans of all backgrounds together.
Our country was founded on agriculture. When that foundation starts crumbling, everything built upon it can’t help by follow. Urban legislators who have no foresight to support rural constituents in their state, are sitting by and letting it happen.
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