News You Might Have Missed:
New Poll of Rural Americans Shows Deep Cultural Divide with Urban Residents: The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.

The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 1,700 Americans – including more than 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns – finds deep-seated kinship in rural America, coupled with a stark sense of estrangement from people who live in urban areas. Nearly 7 in 10 rural residents say their values differ from those of people who live in big cities, including about 4 in 10 who say their values are “very different.”

How one Pastor is Bridging the Partisan Divide: A recent study found that Methodism is one of America‘s most politically divided denominations, with both congregants and their pastors roughly split between the Democratic and Republican Parties. That makes rising partisanship a particular challenge for pastors like Adam Hamilton, of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. He estimates his congregants are perhaps 60 percent Republicans, and 40 percent Democrats-slightly more liberal than the communities from which they’re drawn, but still a decidedly red-state congregation. And, he argues, it gives the ways in which he navigates those tensions broader import.

Low Income Earners See Weekly Pay Gain Faster Than Other Groups: 
For the first time in years, pay for the lowest-income Americans is rising faster than for other groups.Weekly pay for full-time earners at the lowest 10th percentile of the wage scale rose at a faster rate last quarter, year-to-year, than for any other group measured by the U.S. Labor Department-including those at the top of the income scales who earn five times as much.
The shift for low-income workers-including restaurant workers and retail cashiers-who make about $10.75 an hour, is a sign that a tightening labor market is delivering better pay to workers who largely haven’t shared in gains since the recession ended eight years ago, according to economists and government data. Last quarter marked the first time since late 2010 that this earning group’s gains outpaced all others, including the 90th, 75th, 50th and 25th percentiles. 
What Macron can teach America: It’s time for Center-Left and Center-Right to Unite: Macron tapped into populist desire for change against the stale status quo, but he channeled it in a constructive, rather than destructive, direction. A new generation of first-time candidates-including a majority women-ran for office on his party ticket. The policies they backed were not the stuff of pie-in-the-sky protest votes but a recognition that the major forces shaping our future-technology, the environment, the global economy-do not neatly cleave into ideologically driven left versus right positions.

Instead, the choice we face is between an open and closed vision of society, bridge builders versus wall-builders. This perspective offers us the opportunity to clear out some of the cobwebs from our outdated political debates and build a broader coalition between the center-left and the center-right with a few libertarians thrown in for good measure. The result is a refocus on a free-market liberalism that many American centrists would recognize as being consistent with their self-definition: fiscally conservative but socially liberal.

A Bipartisan Congress that Works? Veterans Committees Show how it’s Done: As the rest of Congress fights over the health care overhaul and looming budget deadlines, the committees responsible for writing legislation affecting veterans are quietly moving forward with an ambitious, long-sought and largely bipartisan agenda that has the potential to significantly reshape the way the nation cares for its 21 million veterans. It could also provide President Trump with a set of policy victories he badly wants.

“It’s a case study in Washington working as designed,” said Phillip Carter, who studies veterans issues at the Center for a New American Security and advises Democrats. “And it’s shocking because we so rarely see it these days.”

Races We’re Watching:
2018 Special Elections
Voters send two more Democrats to the Oklahoma Capitol:Democrats flipped two GOP-controlled districts on Tuesday, giving Oklahoma’s minority party a morale boost heading into a long season of special elections as they prepare for 2018. [NewsOK, 7/11/17]
Democrat Karen Gaddis scores surprise victory, takes state House seat held by GOP since early ’90s: Democrats scored a big special election victory Tuesday as retired school teacher Karen Gaddis won an east Tulsa County House seat that has been in Republican hands since the early 1990s.
American Center
PO Box 15423, Washington, DC 20003