After a short break I’m going to return to blogging with a change in focus. I’m getting away from photography tips and how-to for awhile. In all honesty I was beginning to think that most of what I could impart in terms of photography expertise I’d already set down in this blog. Search “Friday Foto Talk” in the blue bar at left to see how many articles I’ve posted (hint, it’s a lot!). Of course there is always more to relate, and the fact that I’ve been in a photo drought probably has the most to do with my waning interest in Foto Talk posts.
What I will continue to do is feature some of my favorite images. I hope you enjoy them, and remember if you’re interested in hanging one or two on your wall or otherwise using any for other purposes, just contact me. I’ll be glad to quote a good price.
Politics and the Urban-Rural Divide
Since the last election in this country I’ve been thinking often about rural America, in particular the ways in which it has changed. If you live in another country, or are a newcomer to the U.S., you probably became quite confused when we elected Donald Trump for president (someone I usually call “Mr. Pumpkinhead”). He obviously sold a bill of goods in order to get elected. In some ways that should come as no surprise. He is, if anything, an accomplished con artist.
But it goes much deeper than that. I’ve traveled extensively through small-town America in recent years, and I’ve discovered that things have changed in significant ways. I did a similar amount of road-tripping in the 1980s, and while some things remain the same, a lot has changed. Of course I’ve changed a lot too. But it’s hard to deny what has happened over the past 40 years, and especially in the last decade or so.
America is politically and culturally polarized to a great degree right now. This divide has always existed of course, but the degree of mutual distrust along with a general inability to find common ground, or even to simply speak to each other is unusual and disturbing. The divide doesn’t simply equate to city versus rural. Even within metropolitan areas, a divide exists between those living closer to the center and those in the outer suburbs and bedroom communities. This last factor had much to do with D.T. being elected president. Without those suburban voters he would have never won. There simply are far too few people in truly rural areas of this country to get anybody elected president on their own.
This old mill and accompanying covered bridge lies in eastern Missouri and is protected as part of a historic district.
In general the more liberal Americans live in cities and (more extensively) on both coasts. The rural west, the southeast and (with a few notable exceptions, California being a big one), outer suburbia throughout the country is where conservatives are concentrated. But today’s conservatism would be unrecognizable to conservatives of just a few generations ago. Mr. Pumpkinhead was no conservative before he decided to run for president, and it was only as the campaign ran along, and especially now that he’s in office, that he played chameleon. He is now a prisoner of stronger forces than he in the legislative branch and among the super-rich.
Politics, however, is not where I want to go in this blog series. I find the nature of people and their communities to be of much more interest. Rural America has traditionally been a place where people move at a slower pace; where they are more trusting and welcoming of others, including travellers and strangers. In that way it is not much different than any other country. For instance if you’re French or have traveled much in France, try to say with a straight face that Parisians are as friendly and easy to get along with as the people of the countryside along the northern flanks of the Pyrenees.
I’ve said enough to serve as an introduction. Next time let’s dive into the details and look at different parts of rural America and the important ways in which they have changed over the years. I hope you get away from work and responsibilities this weekend to have some fun. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!
The rural Willamette Valley of Oregon was the destination of pioneers who journeyed the Oregon Trail in the1800s.