Politicians: Pay attention, we’re smarter than you think

Most of us take our six guns off on Sundays. We scrape the dung off our cowboy boots weekly and actually polish them once a month, right before we take a bath in the cattle tank.

It may also come as a surprise to those on either coast that electricity and running water are available to the vast majority of us here in the middle of America. We’re delighted that we don’t have to wind up the Victorola to listen to our vinyl records that are making a comeback. We can enjoy new fangled music by that Gaga lady and that Drake guy. (Who names their kid after a mallard?)

A lot of folks believe political acumen, native intelligence, sophistication and talent in and knowledge of the arts, somehow end between the eastern shore of the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean on the east and between the Pacific shore and the eastern border of Washington, Oregon and California on the west. 

People in fly-over country don’t much care what those folks think. In fact, many wish this part of the world would remain undiscovered. Those folks are happy to perpetuate the notion that fly-over country is a vast thicket of snake-infested nothingness. “Stay where you are, we’ll come visit you.” I wish the opposite. The more the “sophisticates” visit, the more they understand we’re not the rubes they’ve been told we are.

An east coaster recently expressed surprise that I knew of blues and jazz guitarist Robben Ford. Surprise! Our radios have been working out here for decades. And, astonishingly, the radios that John Deere puts in their combines and tractors can get a rock or classical signals as well as hog futures.

If anything frustrates us out here it is the utter ignorance of our way of life among those who think they’re sophisticated. Their notion that we would all be as blue as they are if only we weren’t both naturally stupid and culturally ill-informed. News flash to liberal America: The well-informed may come to different conclusions than you do. 

Referring to working-class voters in old industrial towns decimated by job losses, presidential hopeful Barack Obama famously said: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” 

It irritated the folks here as much as it irritated the targets of his criticism. The real sentiment was: “We accept that you’re not like us. Accept that we’re not like you and quit calling us bigots or anti-immigrants, anti-gay or anti-anything because you clearly are ignorant about who we are and what we believe.” 

I have lived in Colorado, Kansas and South Dakota. It is my experience most people, conservative and liberal alike do not care about your skin color, your sexual preference, your religion or lack thereof. We care most about who you are and how you treat us and others.

We know about how you live and what you think is important and we believe it is your right to live and think as you see fit. We wish you would afford us the same consideration.

We believe the government’s responsibility in our lives are those established in The Constitution’s Preamble, and no more. Charles Krauthammer said it best in his book, “The Point of It All: A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors” Conservatives believe in liberty – the simple desire to be left alone. In my case – left alone to spin Robben Ford on an old turntable.

Michael Sanborn writes from Rapid City.

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