‘Communication” was the most important thing our therapists dealt with in marriage counseling, right? That’s if we wanted the relationship to last. If the most important thing was winning, that’s what you focus on in divorce court.

There’s an old saying: when two people get married, the two become one. The question is, which one? Liberals, and I’m one of them, sometimes act like we know all the answers. After all, we’re more educated than rural and small-town folks in red states.

So I decided that one way to learn to communicate with red-state voters and to really hear where they’re coming from — since there aren’t many in this lifestyle enclave and those who exist stay in the closet — is to listen to some country & western songs. Here’s what I heard:


I have lived in nine communities for at least a year. In country songs, the place where you’re living now is the place in which you grew up. There are often tradeoffs, of course. You give up opportunity, culture, wealth, education and in return you get lifelong relationships — family and buddies you see every day. You get the experience of community which is more difficult in the big city. 

Alabama Sampler 

I was born country

And that’s what I’ll always be

Like the rivers and the woodlands

Wild and free (running wild and free)

I got a hundred years of down home

Running through my blood

I was born country and this country’s what I love

Fishin’ in the Dark 

I’m proud of where I came from

I was born and raised in the Boondocks …

Five-card poker on a Saturday night

Church on Sunday morning 

I’ll keep my heart and soul in the Boondocks.

It’s where I learned about livin’

It’s where I learned about love

It’s where I learned about workin’ hard

And having a little was just enough

It’s where I learned about Jesus

And knowin’ where I stand

You can take it or leave it

This is me, this is who I am

The simple life

Wendell Berry writes poems and stories about small-town living. He celebrates simplicity. His characters don’t need the stimulation of Lyric Opera, Goodman Theater, watching professional sports live, the excitement of living in the midst of diversity. “I like to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” is what red-state folks say about the city. That’s what Forest Parkers also say about small towns. We live in bubbles, don’t we?

Summer in the Country 

Sippin’ sweet tea, soakin’ up the breeze

The birds and bees, and the creaking’ of an old screen door (—screen door)

Talkin’ ’bout the good life

The bullfrogs singin’, fireflies blinkin’, me and my girl, swingin’ out on the porch

Remindin’ each other just what we’re livin’ for

Summer in the country

Anti-political correctness

Red-state voters tend to be less educated than folks who voted for Biden and Harris. They want well-educated people to teach their children and to take care of them when they’re sick, but they get mad as hell when pretentious elites from the East and West coast (and near western suburbs of Chicago) tell them how to live.

Friends in Low Places

I got friends in low places

Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away

And i’ll (sic) be okay

I’m not big on social graces

Well i guess i was wrong i just don’t belong

And show myself to the door.

And I didn’t mean to cause a big scene

Just give me an hour and then

I’ll be as high as that ivory tower

That you’re living in.

Castle on the Hill

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes

Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends

We found weekend jobs, when we got paid

We’d buy cheap spirits and drink them straight

Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long

Oh, how we’ve grown

I can’t wait to go home


It’s a version of bait-and-switch, I suppose. Red state voters see ads about the good life involving expensive cars, designer sneakers and beautiful bodies; and then they look at their paychecks and realize that they’re at the bottom of the wealth gap. The boss makes seven figures and the worker makes five. It wouldn’t be so bad if the elites would show you some respect, if they would listen to your voice. And so you’re vulnerable to demagogues who shout f*ck the system, drain the swamp. Facts don’t matter or are weaponized when you’re angry.

Nine to Five

With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving

They just use your mind, and they never give you credit

It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it