The Democratic Party has some work to do to regain ground in rural NC



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A Trump-Pence sign in downtown Oxford, North Carolina, on November 10, 2016. Oxford is in Granville County, one of several North Carolina counties that switched from voting for Obama in 2012 to voting for Donald Trump in 2016. The Grenville County GOP chairman said Trump voters in 2016 included conservative Democrats and newcomers.

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Democrats, don’t leave rural NC behind

Regarding “To Win State in NC, Democrats Must Change One Thing” (January 17 Opinion):

The writer is president of the Wake County Progressive Democrats.

Simply increasing the vote in metropolitan areas is a losing strategy for the Democratic Party in our state. North Carolina is not Georgia, Virginia and Arizona. More than 40% of North Carolina’s population still lives in rural areas. North Carolina Democrats will have to win the hard way. It’s not either/or rural vs. metro. It is “and, and”.

One of the myths about rural areas is that voters are mostly white. There is a lot of color in the countryside, and many of these people have slipped off the radar because they think no one cares about them. Democrats are leaving a lot of votes behind by ignoring rural people of color.

Just look at what happened in Robeson County. In 2008, Robeson County went for Obama. In 2020 for Trump.

Also, there are a lot of rural white people who may disagree with Democrats on social issues, but may agree with them on economic issues. If the Democrats can push a message of economic populism in these districts and avoid applying the candidate purity test, they can really attract voters. While they may not win these areas, they can at least stop the bleeding and not lose as much.

That doesn’t mean Democrats should ignore metro areas. Independent voters are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, and Democrats need to figure out how to engage them on an ongoing basis. They also need to invest in voters between the ages of 18 and 30.

In the long run, Democrats need a field operation that works year-round, every year. And as I said in the second paragraph, they need to avoid purity tests, and I say this as a self-proclaimed liberal. I agree that we need to do a better job of getting our base to show up, but I don’t think we should be abandoning people in rural North Carolina.

Henry Jarrett, Raleigh

Fix the mental health system

Headlines across the country proclaim the mental health crisis of our children and youth, coupled with a lack of access to quality mental health treatment.

I have been a clinical psychologist and worked with children and adolescents in the Charlotte area for many years, and I have some perspective on this issue. The main overarching problem I see is a healthcare system set up to prioritize profits over patient care.

Many of us vendors are exhausted from fighting a system that does everything it can to stand between us and optimal care for our customers in order to maximize profits. Many of us have spent countless unpaid hours on the phone with insurance companies fighting to get our clients the care they need, only to be faced with denials, delays and authorizations for inappropriate treatment.

We also find it difficult to get reimbursed for our services, spending more unpaid hours on claim denials and resubmissions.

Some insurance companies are worse offenders than others, so many of us service providers narrow down the list of insurers we’re willing to deal with or don’t accept insurance at all so we can keep our doors open. Of course, this limits our customer base to those who can afford a few hundred dollars a month out of pocket.

Also, Medicaid has become this bureaucratically complex and administered in North Carolina that most individual providers will no longer shoulder this burden, although many of us have a strong commitment to working with the disadvantaged in our community.

The harsh reality of behavioral health care in this country is that the affluent can usually find quality mental health care while the rest are left behind. I strongly believe that in order to make mental health care available to all who need it, a nationalized model would be needed, e.g. Medicare for all. We need to profit from healthcare and put the focus back on the patient. We also need community mental health clinics that are accessible, non-stigmatizing, community-based, and staffed by competent, culturally sensitive providers. Health care in our country should be a right, not a privilege.

Christine Rogentin-Lee, Charlotte

The Democratic Party has some work to do to regain ground in rural NC

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