I have spent the past week driving through “fly-over” country. We took the scenic route out to The American Harp Society’s annual convention in South Dakota. We drove through West Virginia and Kentucky to visit family in Indiana. Then we drove through Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa to visit family in Minnesota. Then it was a short five-hour trip to Sioux Falls for the conference. The trip back involves different roads but the same states.
It’s a shame that the stuck-on-themselves urbanites consider the heart of America to be “fly-over” country. They only know it as they fly from their liberal enclaves on one coast to their liberal enclaves on the other. Boston to Los Angeles; New York to San Francisco; Washington, D.C. to Seattle. They know nothing but urban liberalism.
Too bad they don’t take the time to make America “drive through” country. It might change their minds about what America really is and who Americans really are. But I doubt it.
They don’t want to admit that the people of Kentucky and Iowa and Wyoming and Texas and a host of other states know more than they do about what the word “America” really means. It goes against the propaganda they keep telling each other. They might lose their social status if they began to doubt the liberal line.
I was born and raised in Oklahoma, the heart of fly-over country. Oklahoma City is home to the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. One thing about cowboys, they practiced self-reliance, or they died. When your next neighbor was a mile or two or ten away. you had to do for yourself if you wanted anything done at all. You didn’t call the government to do it. You were your own government.
In the West, if you had a problem, you fixed it. If you fell off your horse and broke your leg, you set the bone yourself, crawled back up on your horse, and rode to town to find a doctor. If you lay out on the range waiting for the doctor to find you, the coyotes would have you for dinner.
I’m not being sensational. America was founded by people who understood the risks they faced but faced them anyway as the price of living the life they wanted.
If someone tried to steal your horse and you didn’t shoot him, you were the one who died because there was so much space between ranches that you would die before you could walk there. If someone broke into your house to rob you and harm your family, you shot them yourself because you were too far away from the law to wait for help. And if you weren’t home when someone broke in, then your wife would shoot them, because she was just as able and willing to fight for her freedom and her family as her husband was.
These urban liberals don’t know how to build a life for themselves. Because they fly over the heart of America, they don’t see the beauty of the wheat, sorghum, and corn fields stretching out for miles on a clear day with barns bigger than the farmers’ houses. The barns are bigger because it takes a huge investment in equipment to keep farms operating at a profit. The farmer and his family also spend far more time in their farm buildings and on their equipment than they do in their houses, so why shouldn’t the barns be bigger.
And the silos and grain bins are huge. America can be the breadbasket of the world if the government would leave farmers alone and let them do the job they know how to do. Instead, the government tries to tax and regulate them out of business. It’s a hard life but a wonderful life. And people still must handle their own problems because it is still a long way to town or even to another ranch. Self-reliance and the desire for the government to leave them alone so they can live their lives as God gave them freedom to live is really all they want out in fly-over country.
It’s a shame these urban liberals who live so tightly packed together in over-priced high rises can’t take the time to drive through the real America and learn what they are missing. Fifty years ago a young Connecticut college student named Peter Jenkins decided America was bad, but a professor convinced him to see the real America before he wrote it off. Jenkins accepted the challenge, and his walking tour of America is chronicled in his two books “A Walk Across America” and “The Way West.” It’s a shame that urban liberals don’t have the personal honesty of a Peter Jenkins. They should quit flying above the real America and actually take the time to get to know it and us.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.