Rep. Cheri Bustos released an extensive “Hope from the Heartland” report which was developed over the last several months. Based on conversations that Bustos and Professor Robin Johnson of Monmouth College had with 72 Democratic state and local officials who have been successful in rural and Midwestern communities, this report shares the direct wisdom, insight and strategy of true survivors who have withstood tough election cycles for Democrats. The report focused exclusively on rural and blue-collar communities from eight states that played a key role in President Donald Trump's election - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
While some of the opinions expressed in the report may run contrary to some of the different elements within the Democratic Party, the report underscores the importance of staying focused on jobs and the economy if Democrats hope to regain power this November. That starts by listening and then turning these lessons into action in both Washington and State Capitals.
But, the message delivered by the participants in their report was clear, “Don’t give up on the Heartland.” The feeling was unanimous, Democrats can earn these votes back with a more disciplined approach to winning races in the Heartland and by bringing the wisdom of rural working-class voters to national debates.
“If Democrats want to compete and succeed in rural America, we need to listen and learn from the leaders who are getting it done,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “I launched the ‘Hope from the Heartland’ project because Democrats have already won the big cities and, if we’re serious about winning back majorities, we need to start by winning back the trust of the hardworking men and women in small towns across our country. We went into this project with an open mind and an invitation to the participants to speak their minds openly and honestly. While I don’t agree with all of the comments we received, this report reconfirms my deeply held belief that Democrats must keep our eye on the ball by spending each and every day addressing the very real economic challenges facing families who are struggling and feel like Washington has left them behind. There’s a heck of a lot more that unites us than divides us as Americans and, if Democrats can keep our focus on these core values, then we’re going to have a strong 2018 – and much more importantly - be in position to deliver a better future for all Americans.”