Mountain Philosopher

John deVille

John deVille's musings on the intersection of history, politics, philosophy, and Appalachia.

Dirt Road Revival — A Conversation with authors Senator Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward
May 7 2022
Dirt Road Revival — A Conversation with authors Senator Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward
We all know that part of the reason for the extreme red/blue, Republican/Democrat, rural/suburban/urban divide when it comes to actual electoral results lies in the arena of values, sensibilities, traditions. Population densities, geological topographies,  and their attendant histories shape our thinking more than we usually, probably always, know. Beyond all of that is an ugly truth which the Democratic Party and progressives are loath to acknowledge. And that truth is they have almost entirely abandoned the rural voter. And when progressives speak of the rural it is speech all too often saturated with scornful, mocking disdain and derision. All too often when it comes to the rural, the Democratic Party is hellbent on the self-fulfilling prophecy that rural voters lie beyond their reach. They tell themselves that the cultural divide is too great. The utilitarian calculus is that scarce resources of canvassing time and media dollars would be better spent rallying “the base” or perhaps to just abandon the electoral field altogether. And that has left rural voters listening to only one megaphone and frequently leaving them with only one choice in the polling booth. To maintain this situation, this dynamic is to engage what pilots refer to as “augering in” — a death spiral which intensifies as the aircraft speeds towards an inevitable crash. We can see that in my home county of Macon, NC. Democrats have only two races to vote on in the upcoming May 17th primary. We have a choice in the NC Senate which has already been decided and we have a choice of who will face the likely winner of the GOP primary for the 11th Congressional District, the incumbent Madison Cawthorn. So one meaningful race for Democrats in the May 17 primary. Maine State Senator Chloe Maxmin and her campaign manager of two successful races for the Maine State Legislature, Canyon Woodward, did not just seek to reverse the augering in — they pulled the progressive plane out of the spiral. Twice. They reversed the prevailing physics. Twice. They shredded the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Party playbook twice. Senator Maxmin flipped a longstanding-Republican Maine State House seat in 2018 with the co-leadership of Canyon Woodward. They did this in their mid twenties. And then they successfully conjured lightning a second time, unseating the Maine State Senate minority leader in 2020. And now they have written a book about their journey, their strategies, and their tactics. This is a book about two rural relative youngsters connecting to their roots and their people. This is a book about deep listening. This is a book about empathy. This is a book about creativity and letting voters lead. Perhaps most of all, it’s a book about hard work. I shrank back from the second half of the book where Chloe and Canyon discuss specific tactics. Good God, the work. The 20-hour-a-day work. The long conversations. The thousands of handwritten thank you notes. And so much more. You’ll need a nap before and after this section. Chloe and Canyon have so much to teach us because they have walked the walk. YouTube Version the book & Canyon’s next venture Dirtroadorganizing.org Chloe & Canyon’s NYTimes Op-Ed