Smalltown America's Growing Voice of Rage
Posted on: 2010-01-02 17:55:58
What is clear is that they are a force to be reckoned with. A recent Rasmussen poll revealed that if the Tea party were an actual party it would eclipse the Republicans.
One of the paradoxes of being a foreign reporter in smalltown America is that within any one day, you will hear people insist that they stand at the centre of global affairs and simultaneously act as though they reside at the very fringes of international interest.
As Americans, they feel their country stands as a beacon to the outside world – a showcase for freedom, liberty, democracy and material comfort.
As inhabitants of smalltown America, they feel marginalised from the national narrative and isolated from the rest of the world. Within the span of a single conversation you will be told that America is the best country on earth and be asked why you – or indeed anyone – would come to their particular town.
So it was last week in Leitchfield, a small town in central Kentucky. South-east of Louisville and south-west of Lexington, its 6,000 residents live between Nolin and Rough River lakes on the way to nowhere in particular
Leitchfield has known better days, but few here can remember when.
Unemployment, long in double digits, has now reached 16%. One in five lives below the poverty line and the median family income is less than two-thirds that of the rest of the nation.
Last year Republican presidential hopeful John McCain took the county handily, with 67% of the vote.On Monday night a young woman working at a local pharmacy first giggled at my accent and then asked what business I could possibly have in Leitchfield.
When I asked her what young people do for kicks in a place that doesn't serve alcohol, she shrugged: "Some of them take drugs and have sex. I watch videos with my sister."
Just a few a minutes later I was at a town hall event where Republican Senate hopeful Rand Paul lamented the impending demise of America's global supremacy