The 2020 Democratic primary has seen no shortage of big, ambitious ideas—the nationalization of health care via “Medicare for All,” free college, free child care, and the cancellation of student debt, just to name a few.
But there’s one big idea still missing: how to fix the stark and growing disparities between the parts of the country that are prospering and those that are falling behind. Regional inequality is perhaps the greatest challenge to America’s economic and political future, but 2020 candidates have yet to tackle, let alone acknowledge, the problem. It’s an omission that could have long-term substantive consequences for Democrats.
Since President Donald Trump took office in 2016, numerous analyses have pointed to a widening gulf—political, economic and demographic—between red and blue America. On the one hand are the rising fortunes of educated, urban Democratic districts. On the other is the steep decline of formerly industrial, Republican districts in rural America and the heartland.
The latest to highlight this trend is a new report from Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton of the Brookings Institution, which underscores how deep this schism has become over the past 10 years.