Charlotte, N. C. -- Delegates at the Rural Caucus meeting held during the Democratic convention left for home determined to "stand up and speak out," and mobilize a record voter turnout. The diverse, overflow crowd included a large contingent of United Food and Commercial Workers union members.
"Republicans know their hold on the country depends on keeping some voters out of the voting place," said Boyd Richie, former chair of the Texas Democratic Party. "They use code words aimed at Anglos to play on fears. We have to message past prejudices by telling the truth, telling our stories," he said to loud applause.
Delegates agreed that their life in rural communities is better than four years ago.
At the White House Rural Economic Forum held in Peosta, Iowa just before the convention, President Obama outlined his new initiatives geared toward economic growth in rural communities including doubling Small Business Administration investment funds in rural areas over the next five years, helping rural start-ups create jobs, helping rural hospitals update technology and recruit doctors, and speeding up the development of new bio-fuels for renewable energy and conservation.
Delegates at the convention caucus meeting also cheered the benefits for their families from the Affordable Care Act and the new veterans GI bill.
"95 percent of the national debt is due to Republican policies which have bankrupted the country, while claiming fiscal responsibility," charged Richie.
"How do they get away with it? Fear -- white versus black versus brown; Christian versus Muslim. What is the solution? Talk directly to the people. Stand up. Speak out. Tell your story," he said to loud applause."
Delineating all the programs under attack including public education, Medicare, and unions, Richie asked, "What do we do?" prompting a resounding reply from the audience, "Stand up! Speak out!"
"We have to get away from the false claims of Christianity and patriotism used to attack Democrats," said Richie after the meeting. "Our platform mirrors the Second Gospels to take care of the orphans and the poor. We have to start telling that in language everyone will understand," he concluded.
"The rural population in this country embodies the values of hard work and helping your neighbor in good times and bad. The difference between Democrat and Republican in this election is the choice of coming together as a nation or each one on your own. I want our country to go forward, not back," said Richie.
Photo: The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. David Goldman/AP