Like a lot of Americans, recently, my family has been at odds over politics, kind of stuck in this pattern of polarization that has gripped the nation. I would like you to set aside your politics for a moment and listen. Listen to a story that tries to bridge that divide, a story that demonstrates that can unite us in the appreciation that we are Americans first and politics is second. We can walk both lines, urban and republican, rural and democrat.
As you may know, Senator Harry Reid has approved me to record The Good Fight, his autobiography and I am sharing the entire Chapter 2 early, before the entire book is uploaded to Audible. Why? Because this chapter is not about politics and I believe it has the power, if not to unite us a little bit, at least to create understanding between rural and urban America. That is Reid's goal as stated in the preface to the book, help Washington and rural America understand eachother a little better. This chapter is about his rural rugged upbringing just like myself. It's funny and humanizing and I think we can all use a little more of that right now.
Rural America is a unique and less well-understood aspect of our culture than urban America. Urban and rural America are often at odds, creating stereotypes about each other as city-slickers and country bumpkins. There is a long history of that and I think we delight ourselves to some extent in the stereotypes. But they are just that, stereotypes and they aren't accurate. Those stereotypes exist in politics too. Republicans like to call democrats "snowflakes," but as you will see in Harry's autobiography, nothing is tougher than a country-boy. He and I have both been in our share of scraps. Being humble, 'tread lightly and carry a big stick' is a positive trait. What matters is at the end of the day, we are all Americans and our experiences collectively make up the fabric of America. I think you will find commonalities between rural and urban America in Chapter 2.
I am uniquely positioned to understand the commonalities of rural and urban life. As a young man, I faced a kind of duality: growing up in rural America (2 miles as the crow flies from Mexico) and traveling 42 miles to inner-city barrio schools every day. Kids in the city were pretty curious about my farm life and didn't always have positive things to say. My cousins, Jim and Mike grew up in the city and loved visiting me in the country. They enthusiastically told their friends about their farm boy cousin. When I visited them in their suburban city culdesac, all the kids would come out in the neighborhood and we held running races. They were astounded by my country-boy speed. One of my cousin's favorite stories to tell is how I showed up one day at their house and needed to pee. So, I walked on out to their front lawn, found a bush and in plain view of all the neighbors, I whipped it out and proudly peed on the bush. This was known as "watering a plant" where I came from. Nothin unusual.
There is one reality we need to face, rural America is shrinking and urban America is growing. The number of stories of rural America and their values are also fading away. We take rural America for granted. To understand rural American values is to understand what makes us tough and indispensable to what is America. Our stereotypes should be limited with the knowledge that we simply don't, or can't, always understand eachother. We can at the very least respect eachother and try to understand.
This is why I REALLY like converting chapter 2 of Senator Harry Reid's book The Good Fight to an audio book. It is a sobering account of rural life. It's really funny and I believe, if you listen to it, you are taking a step in helping heal a polarized nation that is often divided along urban and rural lines. We have a lot more in common than you might think: struggling with healthcare, drugs, domestic violence, housing. Reid also recounts the triumphs of community, working together to overcome collective challenges and just doing the right thing.
It was was fun to read, using traditional voices and laughing a bit myself. I hope you take the time to listen while you do housework, drive to work or take a country, or city stroll. Listen to chapter 2 here, please subscribe and share: https://youtu.be/MIt2NyP7mjo
Contrary to stereotypes that Republicans like to present about Democrats, Senator Harry Reid is no "snowflake," inside or outside the ring. We owe it to our fellow Americans to set aside stereotypes and not create new ones.