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A Heartland Political Campaign

By Tom Watson on September 27, 2008No Comment

So much of the focus this political season is on the horse-race – endless analysis of the daily trackers, swing state polls, trends, and demographic groups. In terms of issues, the economy and American security tend to drown out specific concerns in the national din of election coverage. But there are signs out there that the long-awaited micro-targeting of local – or sub-section demographic and economic issues – is well under way, particularly on the left.

Here’s a perfect example: RuralVotes is a 501c4 advocacy organization focused on progressive initiatives to revitalize rural America. Based in Massachusetts, RuralVotes pushes a progressive agenda that’s in the economic interest of both U.S. farmers and the millions of who live in rural America – issues that, in the organization’s words, include "alternative and renewable energy, sustainable food and agriculture,
bridging the ‘digital divide’ in telecommunications, protecting natural
resources and the quality of life that makes rural America a special
place and other noteworthy endeavors."

Taken as a whole, it’s part of an attempted reinvention of the heartland – away from despoiling agribusiness monopolies and toward self-sufficient rural communities. A lofty goal indeed, but the work is often a combination of statehouse trench warfare and guerrilla communications. Outside of the big yearly Farm Bill, rural issues don’t general find widespread debate on the American political stage.

So I was pleased to see RuralVotes run a highly-targeted rural issues radio campaign against John McCain in New Hampshire, a swing state where Barack Obama is somewhat vulnerable. And then, in spirited of CauseWired activism (yes, that’s a book plug – get used to ‘em!) they kicked it up a notch with a viral YouTube campaign, simply taking the radio feed and connecting it to compelling images from rural New Hampshire and a link back to and its terrific BackForty blog. Well done, indeed:

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