op-ed

Rural America Is Winning With Trump

Already, the Trump administration is achieving great victories. Rural Americans, who voted for Donald Trump in record numbers, are being rewarded for their patriotism and their foresight in numerous ways.

rural small town Trump sign Getty Images/Mark MakelaFor one thing, Trump is appointing conservative judges to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, who will defend the constitution and stop the “progressive” assault on Christianity and traditional values. That, in itself, is a win for rural America, and for America, period, the importance of which cannot be overstated.

The recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is another milestone for rural America. Virtually every American family will receive a tax cut, thanks to the bill. The standard deduction has been essentially doubled, as has the child tax credit, while tax rates in all brackets have been lowered. The number of people who need to itemize will be reduced — a result of the tax simplification that the bill achieves. Citrus farmers, brewer and vintners will see additional benefits.

Although much ink has been spilled maligning the Federal Communication Commission’s recent move to repeal the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” policies, the truth is that this decision will benefit rural Americans. First, the move rolls back government overreach, and allows the free market to govern the way the internet works. Now internet consumers will have choices, which President Obama tried to deny them. More importantly, the repeal of net neutrality creates major new potential revenue streams for internet service providers (ISPs). Liberals seem to take the view that ISPs should furnish the internet to everyone, for a uniform and modest price, and they should bear massive infrastructure costs alone. This is a recipe for low capital spending and lousy infrastructure, especially in under-served rural communities, which have trouble accessing broadband internet. The repeal of net neutrality means that internet access may become not only cheaper, but more widespread, especially in rural areas that desperately need more access to bolster job prospects and educational attainment.

As I have argued before, there is more that the FCC can do to serve rural America. The FCC’s policies are, in many cases, outmoded, assuming a model in which radio and TV dominate broadcast communications. That made sense in the 1960s, but it is now ancient history. Unfortunately, many of the most valuable broadcast frequencies, which could be used to deliver broadband internet, are still reserved for television, even though viewership is way down, many frequencies go unused, and modern communications are increasingly reliant on the internet. In this day and age, access to broadcast TV (think “rabbit ears”) is increasingly irrelevant to a person’s well being, but access to the internet is indispensable.

The solution is obvious: Let’s reassign some of the broadcast frequencies currently dedicated to television programming so we can bring broadband internet access to the 20 million rural Americans who currently lack it. Many analysts believe that it would require only three, 600 MHz range channels in each TV market (less than 10% of the total number) to make a revolutionary change in rural internet access. Why would the FCC not jump on this opportunity? The answer, predictably, is that changing anything in the “swamp” of Washington, D.C. is excruciatingly difficult, and TV broadcasters, who have a lot of political clout, refuse to share even the frequencies they aren’t using with any other industry. Talk about small-minded! Nonetheless, there is hope that the FCC will break this logjam and do what is right for the American consumer. President Trump’s two recent executive orders, designed to ease the permitting process for rural broadband providers, are a sign that he understands what is at stake.

We all know that rural Americans are proud, and they are capable. The last thing most rural residents want is a handout. Instead, they want to be empowered to solve their own problems. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing.

By appointing federal judges that believe in the constitution, President Trump is returning freedom to the American people, so that they can make their own decisions, and better their lives without the nanny state telling them what to do. By cutting taxes, President Trump is allowing Americans, especially rural residents, to keep more of their own money, and to spend it as they see fit. By repealing President Obama’s “net neutrality” guidelines, Trump’s FCC is making sure that American consumers will have maximum choice, the internet will be run as a capitalist enterprise, rather than as a socialist entitlement, and rural Americans will benefit from expanded investment in broadband infrastructure. Finally, if the FCC acts on proposals to reassign broadcast frequencies to ISPs, rural Americans could see the “digital divide” eliminated, and the number of rural residents with broadband internet access could skyrocket.

We have only scratched the surface of the gains rural America has made since the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President. In April 2017, the Trump administration created a task force specifically to address the regulatory and legislative obstacles to prosperity in rural America. It has also tackled the opioid epidemic in an aggressive and unprecedented way, it has removed regulatory burdens that were holding back the agriculture, timber, energy, and mining industries, it has prioritized the purchase of American-made goods, it has facilitated record stock market gains, historically low unemployment figures, and increased GDP growth (3+%), it has made it easier for parents to choose private and religious schools, or homeschooling, it has boosted deportations of criminal illegal aliens, it has improved the care and support received by veterans, and it oversaw the virtual obliteration of the Islamic State, which menaced the security of every American.

All of this became possible because voters, especially those living in rural areas, ignored the mainstream media and backed Donald Trump in 2016. That choice has already borne fruit, and, as President Trump never fails to remind us, the best is yet to come.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an associate professor of history at Alfred State College.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.