I’m a rural voter

I’m far from a political person. Never have been. Last night was the first time I’ve ever stayed up past my bed time to watch election results. The comments from one of the commentators about rural voters turned my stomach the moment I heard it. I’m one of those rural voters “forgotten” about in middle America.

I’m one of those rural voters who joined the droves to vote yesterday. I’ve voted in a half-dozen presidential elections since my first vote in 1996. This was the first time I had to stand in line and wait my turn to cast a ballot. I stood in line for an hour to vote, while others I know spent two. But I wasn’t disgruntled to do so. I was proud to let my little voice be heard.

img_6107

Rural to me, are my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. We love our little towns, our one stop light communities and the farmers and ranchers who are on our school boards and town committees. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being designated as rural (in my humble opinion.) What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important. We’re not uneducated and our votes are just as important as someone who lives in downtown Denver.

The non-rural folks standing on the other side are unwilling to understand rural. I, however, try to see where they’re coming from. They don’t need us (so it seems.) They don’t see us. They don’t run into us on their streets or in their stores. They rarely come here. Do they appreciate all the things I appreciate of rural people? We’re mostly kind, mostly simple and most of all, we’re important. We’ve stood by the last 8 years and suffered through trade embargos, falling commodity prices and lack luster cattle markets and we’re still here. You won’t find us out in the streets destroying property and running a muck protesting. Rural folks are tough, and often can take a beating and keep on ticking.

I’m not upset by the election. I’m upset because of the words. I’m saddened people resort to name calling over something they don’t have much control over. And I too, as a member of the media, take offense to how these so-called journalists have chosen to take sides. I may be simple-minded because I chose to remain in agricultural media, but I’m still part of the media. I interview, photograph and tell the story of America’s famers and ranchers. I tell their stories in the most fair and balanced way possible. I may not always agree with what I’m listening to but I leave my bias and personal opinions out of my stories. I try to tell both sides. Truly, I don’t agree with mainstream media and all the misconceptions they’ve strewn about in this election.

I’m a woman and I’m offended by thoughts others have of my gender and why everyone assumes women should vote for a first woman president. We need a better candidate for the first woman president than we were presented with this year. I’m offended because I’m college-educated, rural and a woman and some hopped up “mainstream media” person just assumes I’m not important.

A college coach once told me don’t assume anything, it just makes an ass out of you and me. As much as I disliked the guy, he’s correct in his thinking. Mainstream media assumed their chosen candidate would win, but they were sadly mistaken when the rural votes pushed the eventual winner over the top.

So, before I fill another ten paragraphs about the election, I’m going to stop and say, if you don’t like something change it. If you don’t like what’s going on in America right now, start with your own home. Change things there, and it will snowball. We need stronger families, children and parents. We need strong workplaces. We need to improve ourselves before this country can get strong again.

 

**Edited to add: I had a comment on this post that lead me to add some more of my thoughts to the original post.**

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and to spend the time to comment on it. I appreciate your insight! My post came about because I was fired up after listening to the commentators continually use the term “rural uneducated” out of context, out of connotation and the continued use of it during their broadcasts on election night.

I admitted in my first sentence politics is one of my least favorite things. Admittedly because of it, I don’t know all the specifics about each campaign, nor do I care to. Not once did I say whom I voted for or provide any indication of endorsement of a certain candidate. My 5-year-old son asked me who I voted for, and I told him frankly, that’s none of your business. It’s mine. He didn’t understand, but accepted it.

In my post, I made the statement, “What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important.” Yes, by that, I mean we weren’t weighted appropriately in the polling data. We weren’t a serious consideration. Again, politics is FAR from my wheelhouse and I choose to be that way, because I don’t know the specifics about polling, data and the like.

I’m simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. What I do take case with is how our lawmakers make it difficult to live the way we want to. I’m sure others struggle with this as well, even though they’re not in agriculture.

Again, throughout my post, I was talking about how rural votes were overlooked (by the data) and mainstream media. Even though I didn’t come out and directly say that. I wasn’t discussing the polling data, bias or any other things you’ve mentioned. I’m not well versed in any of that, and prefer not to discuss something I don’t know much about and thus not comfortable with.

I don’t agree with mainstream media’s or your definition of me being less educated. I went to college and received two degrees. I worked hard to become educated, and I’m happily still paying off those student loans because of it. I’ve been out of academia since 2002, and I’ve lived life and learned from the college of hard knocks as well. I have parents who never went to college. My twin sister and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. I’ve learned from them and have common sense because of them. It takes talent, smarts and experience to operate the tractor, truck or pickup used to plow fields, haul crops to town or feed cattle. Just because many rural folks are what you deem uneducated does not mean they are unintelligent. Some of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met in my day job are the smartest, most intelligent people I’ve met and often don’t hold a college degree. I’ve also met those with multiple, upper-level degrees, and they are not someone I’d consider smart.

A friend of mine made a really good point to me about education and I’m going to steal her quote and share it here, “The minute you think that school diplomas make you educated, you come out to Kansas and help my husband overhaul a loader transmission and engine (which he did at age 14) and tell me how educated that college degree in Poli-Sci makes you feel. There are an overwhelmingly high number of dropouts in inner cities and urban areas, and a lack of good education in those areas. Out here, we have great education, smaller classes and a higher number of citizens who demand we be responsible for ourselves. Accountability is huge and part of that comes with being ‘educated’.”

So, even though, I don’t know what the president-elect will bring, what I hope is we can continue to live in rural America and prosper. Our definitions of prosper may be vastly different, but I want my children to have happy parents who work at something they love and at the same time can provide for the family. I don’t want us as parents to be saddled with debt because we choose to live in rural America.

 

img_6109

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “I’m a rural voter

      • Absolutely true. And those who would do away with the electoral college would only insure the perminant disinfranchizement of the rural voter! Open your eyes all those who can’t see beyond the walls of your cities, the silent majority is still out there!

  1. The “uneducated white voter” box rural America has been placed plainly shows how far removed the mainstream media has become. I enjoyed your article…spot on!

  2. I am all about this article as I too, am a rural voter. Please check the last sentence of the third paragraph, “We’re not uneducated and are votes are just as important as someone who lives in downtown Denver.” The “are votes” should be “our votes”.. especially in the same sentence as “We’re not uneducated”…

  3. Thank you for expressing so many of my thoughts today! I am a Christian, wife mother, grandmother and a unaffiliated rural voter. The main street media, pollsters and parties forgot about us…and I truly believe that all of our prayers and votes made a difference! So, I want to thank all you rural voters that voted!

  4. I’m a white elitist that lives in a bubble near San Francisco. I’m from a rural town in a “square state” (no, the state I’m from is not actually square.. but they are all the same to the folks here) in “fly-over country.”

    Thank you for this well-written post. However, I take issue with a few things:)

    1) Every vote of every citizen counts. Period. Full stop. Non-negotiable. No one every said that your vote did not count. In fact,the fewer the electoral votes your state has, the more your vote counted. Why do you think the candidates spend so much time in rural places? Thus, your vote counted significantly more than mine. However, you were not weighted appropriately in the polling data, I will get to that next, but maybe that is what you mean?

    2) Since when did facts become liberal propaganda? The media reported facts based on the best models we have to date. Pollsters didn’t forget about you. Just more of you (rural voters) showed up than in previous elections (Romney and McCain actually received more total votes than Trump) and democrats did not turn out like they did for Obama, so the models were inaccurate. How is that biased? Go to fivethirtyeight.com. They will show you all the inputs to their model! They will talk to you about weighting! They will show you what they assumed and actually happened and show you which inputs they were off on. The inputs to the model are based on past behavior. The fact you had to stand in line is an indicator that the electorate was different. Because the model predicted a different outcome than what happened, that doesn’t make it biased, it makes it a BAD MODEL. Saying Clinton has a 2:1 chance of winning based on models IS NOT BIASED. Saying Clinton has a 99% chance of winning based on a different model IS NOT BIASED. However, when you think the media reporting facts is biased, it allows other facts to feel tainted with bias. It feels to me that those who voted Trump have a complacency with non-truths. Media bashing has led to fact bashing. The president-elect said SO MANY THINGS that are not true and was met with a shoulder shrug. I don’t understand complacency with non-truths. I think this is a real problem.

    3) No one said you should vote for a woman because she is a woman. Us liberal elites in our bubbles thought you should vote for her because she has your best interest at heart (STRONG MIDDLE CLASS), and was the more qualified candidate. Strong middle classes make economies stronger. Societies that don’t leave people behind are more successful. Liberal elites think that YOU would benefit significantly more with a democratic president. You know that income gap democrats and the liberal media are always talking about? We educated liberal elites are on the top of it and would personally do much better under a republican, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

    4) The media refers to you as uneducated because you are, on average, significantly less educated. Fact. 90% of the parents my children go to school with have a graduate degree. Not just a college degree. These are JDs, MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs. No one said you are less intelligent, but yes, you are less educated. Please don’t take issue with the facts!

    5) We were all upset by this election and the name calling. Because you live in a rural community doesn’t make you kinder or more caring for your children, neighbors, friends or colleagues than us. I’m mostly upset that the name calling kept us from getting to issues. We do not have a clue as to what a DJT presidency will look like. We do know he doesn’t believe in climate change, will build a wall, and proposed a tax plan that will ADD 7.2 TRILLION to the national debt. And who is the benefactor of that tax plan? I and my fellow liberal elites are. His plan will probably save my husband and I $100K per year in taxes once implemented.

    Those are my issues. I’m looking for insight and understanding these days. I would greatly appreciate some understanding of what your vision of a DJT presidency is like. Do you think DJT is going to change anything for you or your community and how is it going to impact your life? Will jobs come? What do those jobs look like? Essentially, why did you vote for him? Thanks!

  5. Very well written and right on track for many of us. You said what we all feel with class, respect and dignity. Traits most rural folks also share with each other. Thank you.

  6. I did not vote for the first “African-American” candidate for president. I wept the night he was elected and hoped and prayed he would be a good president. I was so torn as I wanted the presidency to be available for any of our citizens, so, for that reason alone, I was pleased. His presidency was a disappointment to me. I could not vote for the “first woman” candidate for many reasons, certainly not as a nod to her gender. Thank you for understanding and giving voice to those of us who live in rural America.

  7. This is exactly how all my “uneducated rural” friends feel too!! Where would all those city folks be without the farmers & the oil industry???? So excited to actually get to see how our votes really do make a difference! Let’s make America great again!!!

  8. Kylene,

    Thank you for writing this piece.
    I too am one of the big city liberals in NYC and sign waving protestor. I wasn’t born, nor raised here or even near any big city. I grew up in rural Northeastern Kansas. My hometowns popultion is around 150 depending on the year and my graduating class in high school was smaller than the number of people in my apartment building.
    Now I’m a union laborer in one of the most expensive places in the country. I never dreamed I would live here and honestly never wanted to. I followed the work and this is where it landed me for the last 10 years.
    The first election I ever voted in, I voted republican. Heck, I can remember being really excited about Sam Brownback running for congress.
    Since leaving Kansas in ’99 I have now lived in Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and France and have traveled on 4 Continents.
    I like to think that I have a pretty good understanding of both sides of this issue. I like to “think” that. This election and the build up to it showed me that all it was was a “thought”. I didn’t see it coming and I was in no way a supporter of the democratic nominee. I distrusted her as much as most people.
    The thing that gets me is that I actively try to learn. I’m never happy just accepting someone’s word for anything. I try to pay attention and I still didn’t see it.
    Regardless which “side” someone happened to be on too many ended up in a bubble. Our own personal Echo chambers that feed our own beliefs and demoralize and negate most if not all others. I think a great number of Americans are experiencing this, conscious of it or not.
    I don’t think that all or even most city folks consider rural folks dumb or uneducated, just as I’m sure all rural folks don’t think that all of us city folks are cigar smoking intellectual elitests. Life is very very different between rural and urban areas. Each require a unique set of skills to navigate and each come with their own cultural benefits and detractors. I don’t know many city folks who would have any idea where to start if handed a grease gun and told to lube the tractor. I’m quite proud that I do. 🙂 I also doubt that there are many country folk who would know how to get from Brighton beach to Harlem on the train. Both could learn though.
    What this election is also showing me is that we are not nearly as different as people would like us to believe. We all want the same things out of life (family, an opportunity to provide and earn a living and some sense of security and freedom to do as we please). We are all angry with and tired of a system both political and corporate that is stacked almost completely against the poor and middle class. We all want things to change. No one except for the elite, wants to see the elite in control any longer. Wether you are a democrat, republican, independent or otherwise we all want a shot at the “American dream” that we were all told about but by the numbers has slowly ceased to exsists for decades and is now only a myth. Work hard, pay your taxes, be a good person and you will get ahead.
    The lack of that reality is the same here in NYC as it is in Kansas. My take home pay has barely change in 17 years but prices on everything go up.
    Our difference comes in what we believe can help solve those problems and how to accomplish it. We should all start listening to one another more and find our commonality. We need to stop letting politicized hyperbolic personalities prevent us from seeing our common goals. There is a time and a place to have those debates and bicker about issues that aren’t detrimental to the entirety of our nation.
    We need to start talking to one another without the hyper partisan, right/left, conservative/liberal, rural/citystigmas we attatch to one another. Otherwise there isn’t going to be much left for us to fight over because we are not headed in a promising direction for a nation that yearns for longevity.

    Thank you. I’m really glad I read your piece.

  9. Pingback: Who I am | An Eye on the Western Sky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s