The recent debate between Ed Marston and Thomas Power (HCN, 8/2/99) over low wages and living standards touches on one of the biggest issues facing the West today: i.e., Why has the rural West become so reactionary, and what can be done about it?
My wife and I recently cancelled our plans to move to rural eastern Washington because we concluded we would feel like foreigners amid the right-wing attitudes that dominate that region now. The message is clear: Unless you're for guns and property rights, keep out.
How much of the resentment and instability of the rural West is because its residents feel that more decisions affecting their lives are made somewhere else, and they have little say in them? Is the root of this reaction in one-man-one-vote, which accelerated the transfer of power from country to town? I'm not advocating a return to the old system, but it would be useful to understand how much that has spawned today's attitudes.
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