I grew up next to a farm, in the middle of nowhere. I know the people who do not traditionally vote. I grew up with them, I went to school with them, I went to church with them and I am friends with them. I know that they don’t care for politicians, but they don’t take the time to care in general. I know that they have no interest in government because no amount of legislation – perhaps barring agricultural – has any tangible impact on their lives. These are people who value a practical education over an academic one, who value tradition over experimentation, who value their comfort over others.
I spent the entirety of Tuesday night wondering how such a seemingly improbable defeat had been executed before the horrified eyes of millions. It wasn’t until I got a text from my parents back home that I understood. “We had to wait thirty minutes to vote today.” My family votes in a valley church with a congregation of twenty people. The woman who lives down the road runs the polling center. We have never waited in line to vote. There were more of my neighbors voting at one given moment Tuesday than had ever been in that small church simultaneously and this wasn’t because they’d recently learned the location of their polling place.
As I come to accept the reality of an unexpected presidency, I am concerned. I am confused. I am doubting. Though after hours of reflection, I find myself more ashamed than anything. I am ashamed to represent this portion of America. Since arriving at university, I have joked heartily about being “redneck diversity” at a far more prim and proper institution. I am proud to come from a small town and a rural area. It has taught me values I hold near and dear to my heart. But not one of those values condones hate.
It is uniquely difficult to take responsibility for that which we cannot control. But in these following hours, I have never felt more obligated to do so. On behalf of small-town America, I am very sorry. We are better people than this and need to be in the future.