How Many People Do We Not Notice Every Day
The first woman reporter said, “Those of us who live and work in cities exist in a political microcosm insulated from reality.” Immediately the second woman practically shouted that didn’t apply to her because she was open-minded and objective. The man panelist said he’d always considered himself to be open-minded, too, but, since the election, he’d paid attention to his habits and agreed reporter #1 was spot on. “My car radio and all my TVs are tuned to the same station. I read the same liberal columnists every day. I interview everyone who agrees with me!” Reporter #2 said, “Of course. But we are open to other ideas, and report fairly.” The first one said, “No. We don’t. We never get out of our team huddle. We discourse with teammates, argue and debate…among ourselves. We only talk to and about like-minded liberals.” The man said, “It’s embarrassing now, but I believed New York City was the pulse of America. I was wrong.” #2 was outraged. “America’s cities have always been, and still are, the heartbeat of the nation.”
Since 2011, I’ve been traveling with my books. Nearly every weekend I’m on the roads of the Southeast, and beyond. I spend a lot of time away from the lights of a city; a regular Charles Kuralt! I meet the heartbeat of America. I’ve blogged about some of them: the luffa farmer, the bucket truck man, the café serving slug burgers since the 20s, a Christmas tree grower, and immigrants. Alone at my signing table, I must look like a transient bartender, because people talk to me, a stranger, and tell me the details of their lives. Specific things, like how Obamacare effected them; how regulations ruin their business; how taxes forced them to move; how they worry about education, the disrespectfulness of young people, and the lawlessness of the land. I just listen, and sign their books.
Reporter #1 nailed it. While they were writing in a frenzy about Muslims frightened over the election if the Republican won, outside the cities millions of other U.S. citizens were just as afraid of sharia law if the Democrat won. In major cities the reporters wrote about the 1.6 million Muslims warning about reprisals. Outside the cities, 19 million other immigrants warned about the dangers of socialism, which they know firsthand. But instead of being heard, they were labeled as bigots, racists, and hypocritical Christians and Jews. So, they voted to stop socialism and sharia law. In the cities, reporters report on flag disrespect and lawlessness. I’ve visited towns where every resident and business owner flies the flag every day. School children formally raise it each morning. These people worry that could all change in the name of political correctness. So, they voted for the man who says America First.
Reporters in cities talk a lot about political correctness. But much of the country stopped talking about it a long time ago, and live comfortably in diverse neighborhoods and wonder why cities still talk about it. Washington, New York, and Chicago reported about percentages of “the black vote” and “the Latino vote,” but, in towns across the nation folks aren’t considered percentages, they’re simply “neighbors.” They vote at the same firehouse or school building as white females or blue collar workers. For them, that argument is long over.
When the Democratic candidate was in Pennsylvania telling the miners their mines would be closed, I was in West Virginia. The miners there listened. And they voted for the candidate who promised them jobs.
Reporter #1 concluded saying, “If we’d been doing our job right, we wouldn’t have been so surprised. There are a lot of forgotten people in our country. They aren’t the homeless and destitute or illegals that we write about; they’re hardworking citizens who pay taxes, practice their religion, support family values, and they voted their conscience. They’ve been largely ignored because they don’t make sensational sound bites. They don’t make the news; heck, they’re boring! And now they’ve been heard.” The man reporter said, “I’m going to take the center lane from now on. Instead of being main-stream I’m going to be more Main Street. Leaving the left lane could cost me my job. This election should have taught all of us something; it was more than politics; it was America talking. And we who are supposed to be their voice…we’ve got some soul searching to do.”
The moderator summed it up. “President Obama says Donald Trump isn’t an ideologue, but rather he’s a pragmatist. Most Americans are pragmatic. We missed that connection. By a mile.”
The man in the café put on his Vietnam Vet cap, picked up his tray and his coffee cup, and walked toward the lobby. “Need to get off their damn computers and go talk to real people,” he grumbled. I enjoy a program that sticks to the ribs like a good breakfast; my eggs were cold. Will reporting down the center catch on? How often do we all spin in our own little circle ignoring or dismissing everyone else? How many people do we all ignore every day? Maybe we all have a little soul searching to do. Maybe we can all be more objective, more attentive Americans in 2017. Let’s give it a try.