Someone asked me why rural America tends to be more conservative. I’ve lived in the city, the suburbs, and the country. Since I’ve produced several species of livestock, ranched, and planted and baled my own hay, I’m as qualified to answer as anyone.
Of course, everyone in rural America isn’t conservative, because country is no longer populated exclusively with farmers or ranchers. Intelligent folks often trade the city for open spaces to find peace, clean air, silence, and freedom.
What precisely does conservative mean? After you read this answer to the question, you’ll know my definition.
Dogs are Conservative
Conservative is more about how we view our place in the world than a political ideology, although one informs the other. A dog prefers the dark confines of his familiar kennel when it represents security, sameness, and some control over his environment.
Like dogs, people living in dim urban apartments where leafy green trees are extraordinary, ceiling fans create every breath of air, where grayness is broken only by smart decorating choices, and only a 4-inch wall separates them from their neighbors, also find security, sameness, and the illusion of control behind a deadbolt.
Introducing dogs to wide open spaces, the natural smell of grass, squirrels, cows, fish, birds, and other dogs changes them. The familiar confines of the kennel loses its appeal when something speaks to their nature in unexpected ways, flipping a switch the dog didn’t know he had.
This brief video illustrates what happens when dogs are allowed to be dogs, to run free, play together regardless of size, color, or breed, and to witness the gift of joy to everyone involved. No less powerful is Luke’s story of how he found his purpose–on the farm.
Farmers Understand that Sex Matters
Rural Americans understand that gender has purpose. There are no fruits, berries, or vegetables without both male and female. There is no livestock production without caring for the ground, the crops, the herd, and managing male/female interactions properly.
Country folk are closer to the God of the Bible because they know they don’t have the power to change the weather, repel locusts, or hold back flood waters.
Rural Americans know that viruses have no ideology. Microorganisms are opportunists without conscience, allegiance, or mercy. Life and death is a fact, not something man will ever harness. The farmer who loses his entire milking herd to lightning while barely making ends meet knows where to look for comfort and wisdom; it’s not in the mirror or in Washington D.C..
Rural Americans teach their children to respect what exists and that failure to work and be accountable means they don’t eat.
Rural America Doesn’t Discriminate
Rural Americans know that discrimination is stupid. Whether a cow, horse, sheep, goat, hog, or chicken is brown, black, or white, it has a purpose and is to be cared for and appreciated.
They also know that they can’t put unlimited resources into an animal or field that doesn’t produce no matter how much they love it. Rural Americans make heart-breaking choices.
Rural Americans were raised in families who knew that harvesting requires help. Farmers see each other as neighbors instead of competition. The most important issue isn’t whether someone can work, but if he or she will work.
Rural Americans Have A History of Sharing
Rural Americans have a heritage of sharing. When drought hits no one has much. When one family is hard-pressed by illness, injury, or other tragedy, neighbors pitch in, working the fields, tending the livestock, and offering prayer to those most in need today, because they may need help tomorrow.
Rural Americans seldom have time for activism because they’re too busy working the fields, fixing equipment, husbanding the land, or trying to figure out how to pay for next year’s seed.
Protest requires free time, which is why rural America is vulnerable. They don’t have union people to politic on the clock. They have to work so non-rural folks can eat.
Rural American kids learned how to fix things, grow things, sew things, bake things, and care for the animals and land before themselves, because without the animals and land they would perish.
You Can’t B.S. Folks Who Own Bulls
Rural Americans recognize ridiculous rhetoric from pompous academicians and politicians. They know better because they live truth daily. It arrives at daybreak, when their best cow dies calving, and when hail destroys their crops.
In any society or location on the globe, the folks who know they don’t control the world and who understand what it takes to provide food, are the ones who hold the most “conservative” values if what conservative means is working within reality, not trying to convince others that what is real isn’t.
Country Isn’t What is Used to Be, But God Is
Country isn’t what it used to be, just look at County Music. Rural America isn’t what it used to be. Generations removed from the land don’t want to work it because they don’t understand it or love it.
When the last stewards pass away, the land is divided and sold, further reducing the impact and homogeneity of rural America. More than a lifestyle is lost; truth is lost and a clear vital connection to our Creator is lost.
But God is the same and truth remains as it always has. The critical difference between the sexes is the same and anyone who doesn’t work to feed himself and his family may never understand why life is such a disappointment.
You can’t fool a farmer or a bull, and you can’t fool God.
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