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FROSTMAN COLUMN: VP Harris disrespects rural folk with condescending remarks
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FROSTMAN COLUMN: VP Harris disrespects rural folk with condescending remarks

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Does anyone remember the TV show “Green Acres?” Back in the 1960s, the program depicted a big city lawyer tired of urban life, so he and his wife relocate to the fictional podunk town of Hooterville. One of the running gags of the show was that the couple had to climb to the top of the telephone pole to answer the telephone.

If you’re Vice President Kamala Harris, this may be your level of understanding of life in rural America. On July 11, Real Clear Politics was among the many outlets to cover the interview Vice President Harris did on July 9 with BET News. A question was posed about voter ID laws, and potential challenges. I hope you can watch the video.

Stunning nearly all the folks here in “fly-over” country, Harris’ response about voter identification baffled many nationwide. “I don’t think we should underestimate what that could mean.” Harris then paused to draw affect to her next phrase, “In some people’s minds well, that means you’re going to have to Xerox or photocopy your ID to send it in to prove that you are who you are. Well, there are a whole lotta people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t — there’s no Kinkos, there’s no OfficeMax near them.”

She then furrowed her brow. “People have to understand that when we’re talking about voter ID laws,” as she pointed to her head for emphasis, “be clear about who you have in mind, and what would be required of them to prove who they are.” She provided the final blow by saying, “of course people have to prove who they are, but not in a way that makes it almost impossible to prove who they are.” Who is she talking about?

It’s a challenge to know where to start. No one has really used the term “Xerox” for making a copy in decades. FedEx dumped the “Kinkos” name in 2008. Perhaps it’s been a while since the vice president has been tasked with actually making a copy.

Newsflash to VP Harris. Most of us rubes out here in the sticks know how and where to make copies. Many possess these new-fangled things called smart phones that take a picture of anything you want. We own stuff like computers, scanners, printers, and the like. Even folks on ranches and farms use a wide array of technology in their everyday tasks to work more efficiently. Heck, some of them tractors will go over 30 mph if they need to get to town.

Sure, we still struggle with the availability of broadband in many rural areas, but it is very condescending of Harris to cast aspersions on “rural communities,” as if the residents aren’t smart enough to figure out how to provide a copy of their identification.

The people of Wisconsin and the nation shouldn’t stand for these arrogant and patronizing remarks. It’s quite clear Harris doesn’t have a grasp of what goes on between the coasts. Is this the depiction of our small-town state’s citizens you want to abide?

There are others that share the haughty attitude. In late June, First Lady Jill Biden hit the road across several southern states in an attempt to boost vaccination rates in those states whose rates lagged most others. She appeared at a concert featuring country music star Brad Paisley on June 23 in Nashville. A story from The Hill that day reported on the festivities, where she told the crowd, “This state still has a little bit of a way to go; only three in ten Tennesseans are vaccinated.” Boos ensued from the crowd, to which Biden responded, “well, you’re booing yourselves.” I would submit folks were booing the speaker.

It doesn’t appear that a plea from the First Lady had much of an impact on the crowd. While not today’s topic, we’re quickly reaching the point where those who have chosen to be vaccinated have been, and those who have chosen to forgo the injection are doing so by choice, and no political plea will sway them.

We know very well that we can’t expect political leaders to understand each and every aspect of American life. Part of our beauty is in our diversity. It’s part of the compelling need for a wide range of backgrounds in any effective legislative body or administration. The challenge becomes when politicians seek to impart a pompous attitude on those who have availed those very opportunities to serve that we should take umbrage ourselves. Even if it means climbing a telephone pole to make our voices heard.

Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo, and has roots throughout Wisconsin. Opinions herein are exclusively his own. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at scfrostman@gmail.com.

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