Why conservatives see rural America as the "real" America

Meanwhile, I started noticing an emerging dichotomy. Rural areas seemed to be divided between two groups of people: Devout old-timers, and their meth-addicted children — between patriotic Joe six-packs, and white supremacists. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.

It was an area coping with modernity, and struggling mightily. They were clinging to their God and guns, yes — things I generally endorse — but also to their Marlboro reds.

Making matters worse, it was devoid of the kind of excitement that can keep a kid filled with wanderlust off the streets. (Hal Ketchum’s Small Town Saturday Night captures this sentiment with the line, “Gotta be bad just to have a good time.”)

My parents were afraid the city would chew me up and spit me out, but it’s here where I was free to pursue my dreams in the hustle and bustle of activity — a thriving city full of young, ambitious people who are (mostly) pretty well behaved.