Every candidate in the GOP Debate on Tuesday was hurling jabs at each other, gaining political points on culture wars. Who was fighting for the working class?
No one was actually talking to hardworking rural families. No one addressed the struggles of those living paycheck to paycheck, trapped in medical debt, or those unable to afford housing, childcare, post-secondary education, or healthcare.
No one acknowledged the challenges single mothers face, who can't afford to work due to childcare unavailability or expecting mothers residing in rural maternity-care deserts.
The panel ignored the concerns of college graduates burdened by insurmountable student debt and blue-collar workers with stagnant wages.
Who was talking about local farmers or small business owners? Unionless workers? Victims of disease of despair? Senior citizens on fixed incomes worried about Social Security, housing, and end-of-life / palliative care?
Who was talking about our children's safety and mental health at school? No one. How about our LGBTQ friends and other minority groups facing unprecedented discrimination, threats, violence. Our missing and murdered Indigenous women. Not a peep.
Millennials, too, who are paying well over half their income for housing, were disregarded. Low-income families unable to commute 30 miles to the nearest hospital and forced to pay $700 for a child's urgent care visit were left unheard.
Our communities face a mass exodus because of a lack of amenities, dwindling opportunities, a housing crisis, and a lack of jobs with family-sustaining wages.
I've dedicated my entire life to serving hardworking rural Americans, and it's disheartening to see the disconnection of the GOP field with real, everyday rural issues.
My advice to the GOP is to get outside. Walk down the long dirt roads of rural America. Talk to people off the beaten path about their struggles. Get real. Be honest. Every last one of them on that stage came off as a rich man north of Richmond.