On a recent drive across the country, we stopped for lunch at a Subway restaurant in Kingman, Kansas. Kingman is only a few blocks long, with a population of around 3100 people. It’s among the larger towns along US Route 400 in this part of the country, so Subway it was.
They were doing a pretty good business, and we had to wait in line for several minutes. Some natives were easily identified by their clothing supporting the local high school teams and the fact that they all seemed to know each other, while others like us were just passing through. The two young women behind the counter were talking about Subway-related business (they needed to bake more bread) when the people ahead of us said they were in a hurry and encouraged them to wrap up their conversation. They were served and after they left, the servers complained about how rude they were.
At the risk of claiming to understand what I clearly do not: small town dwellers live at a different pace than travelers who cannot wait to be out of the town. It’s one of many culture clashes going on in the country today. The billboards along the route appealed to religious and political perspectives (pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, Jesus is the one true path to salvation) that have much deeper conviction than the wishy-washy, politically correct, multi-cultural urban coasts. The busy tourists did nothing to bridge the gap. If anything, they solidified the perception that we’re selfish, arrogant elitists. We don’t represent middle America; why should they vote for our candidates?
Our drive took us through many states I’ve never seen this slowly before: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. You can drive for several days here and see almost no support for Democratic candidates or the current president. Geographically, the political right is much bigger than the political left, and it’s not hard to understand how some people could believe that the 2020 election must have been stolen. No one near them voted Democratic.
I don’t have any suggestions for fixing America, sorry. I wish I did. The drive was pretty and in some ways made me proud to be an American.
Kingman has armadillos, by the way.