‘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.
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
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