How Progressive and Tolerance Can Change Rural Life

Rural climate skeptics are costing us time and money. Do we keep indulging them?

Like many of my generation, I was born in the 1970s. Unlike my generation, I grew up in a rural and conservative state. I’m not going to deny that our state, like many throughout America, has turned towards the political right. It is no secret that Republicans, and especially our president, are far more hostile in terms of tolerance towards science-based policies and practices than Democrats have traditionally been.

As recently as the 1970s, it seemed like every state, even the ones that have leaned left, had a conservative governor and state legislature. In fact, in the 1970s, every state except one was led by a Republican governor or legislature.

In the past half-century, we haven’t gone that far in terms of the social attitudes and political leanings of our state. But we’ve certainly made some progressive changes. And in many areas, our attitudes have led us towards greater intolerance towards others who are unfamiliar with our way of life.

While rural life is becoming increasingly suburbanized, and our lifestyles much more urbanized, many of us still like to think of ourselves as more rural than urban.

I’m not talking about the stereotypical, rural redneck. Most of us rural people I know aren’t like that. But we don’t want to be lumped in with the urban and even suburban residents who are increasingly more progressive and tolerant.

In fact, I think we are some of the more progressive and more tolerant rural residents.

So, how do you think it affects rural life and the rural economy?

As people’s attitudes towards rural issues and policies have changed, so has their willingness and capacity to pay for those policies through taxes.

The Rural America and the Rural Economy project found that the average tax burden for rural residents has increased by more than 100 percent in the

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