Thank you to the Star-Observer spotlight on the goal of thriving rural communities. The other side of this coin or rather discussion is why the on-going failure to thrive. It’s a hard issue to discuss as it is not socially convenient, it challenges identity politics, and accountability can sound a lot like unfair blame for those not ready to take responsibility for their actions or to hear that the people for whom they voted are not what they promised. 

There really is no good way to sugar-coat this, so here it is: the Republican Party has controlled the Wisconsin Legislature since 2010 and despite preaching “America First” beliefs, they consistently make “Wisconsin Last” votes. 

State legislators have no control over the federal budget or what money gets returned to the states. Refusing to let our federal tax dollars come home doesn’t do much of anything except leave Wisconsin out in the cold and send our money to states like Kentucky. How many of us want the United States to invest in we the people? Does that not mean investing our tax dollars in we the people of the United States? Would that not include Wisconsin?

Since 2010, Republican politicians in Wisconsin caused the people of Wisconsin to lose out on billions in federal relief for everything from rural broadband, to COVID relief for small business, to increasing access to health care for those who make under $20,000 a year which would allow 95,000 more people to utilize Badgercare. 

If the current crop were in charge in the 1930s, we never would have had rural electrification. There is so much potential for local, rural prosperity. Investing in the people and infrastructure of rural Wisconsin is an all-around win as it will expand our economy and increase opportunity for all. 

The question is whether we’re willing to stop voting party first and start demanding that those whom we pay and entrust to represent us stop shooting holes in our boat, even better, that they vote to move us forward and allow our communities to truly thrive.

Sarah Yacoub


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