Flown Over But Not Forgotten

***Guest Column***

If you will allow me, I would like to share some of my thoughts on President-elect Trump’s victory. But first, on this Veteran’s Day I would like to thank all veterans who are fighting or who have fought for our country to give us the right to vote and allow us to make this the greatest country on earth. Secondly, I would like to thank the nearly 38,000 of you who voted for me. Though I ran unopposed, the fact that 85% of the district chose to fill in the circle for me was extremely humbling. I am forever grateful and it is an honor and privilege to represent you in Springfield.

All of you who read my column know that I did not weigh in on the top of ticket or really any of the ticket for that matter. It is my belief that as your State Representative, I’m here to represent you and not to tell you how to vote.

Speaking of telling you how to vote – never underestimate the power of a people who refuse to be told what to do or how to think. That’s a big part of what happened last Tuesday. Donald Trump is an imperfect vessel, and we all knew it, but what he stood for was so much bigger than himself. Please allow me to explain.

If you were to take a look at the county by county Presidential results, you would notice an almost perfect pattern. Urban areas are blue while rural areas are red. We already knew this, right? But this election cycle, the contrast was even starker than at any time in American electoral history. I was not surprised to see that every county in the 89th district was red, but I was surprised when I saw the margins. Both Ogle and Carroll Counties went for Trump by almost a 2:1 margin. Jo Daviess and Stephenson Counties weren’t even close either, but Winnebago and Whiteside were more competitive.

Here’s the takeaway, this election was unlike any that we’ve ever seen before. Though the media has already tried in vain to define this election in terms of race and ethnicity, their doing so only proves to exemplify their ignorance. In time, people will begin to realize that this election was in fact “The revenge of the rural voters.”

The national news media, the big city newspapers, the late night talk hosts, and all the major political pundits – what do they have in common? They all come from large cities. They don’t know what it’s like to live in flyover country. They often look down their noses at those of us living outside major metropolitan areas. They think of us as being uneducated, uninformed, and oftentimes we are the fodder for jokes at their cocktail parties.

They told us that there was only one choice. They told us that the other choice was crazy, that he was crass, and that he was obtuse. Here’s the thing they don’t understand about those of us who don’t have a Whole Foods within walking distance of our homes – we don’t like being told what to do or how to vote. And by the way, those of us here in flyover country are the ones who make the food for your $10 a carrot supermarket.

Let me be clear – by no means do we loathe urban areas. We don’t disdain Chicago, but we disdain the clout that Chicago wields over us. We don’t appreciate it when we are condescended to by those who think anything west of I-294 is just where you go to retire. And we are all aware that we are oftentimes viewed as second rate by urban elites. But that’s ok, because we all have the same individual right to vote.

And so Trump won in the rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio by appealing to those rural disenfranchised blue collar workers who thought Washington, D.C. needed to learn a lesson. Hopefully that is exactly what happened. The flyover state rebellion of 2016 will baffle pundits, but it came as little surprise to us.

President-elect Trump is no saint, but he capitalized on a movement that was so much greater than any one person. Most of his rallies were in communities of a few thousand people while most of Mrs. Clinton’s rallies took place in large cities. In the end, flyover country was forgotten by her and embraced by Mr. Trump.

So where do we go from here? We start by coming together. It doesn’t matter for whom you voted, because a President has been elected. That President will represent the entire United States of America, and we need to coalesce around him. This isn’t a time for pouring salt on the wounds that divide our country – this is a time for healing. We have sent our message.

Hopefully President Trump will not forget the movement that swept him into office, and I hope that we lay aside fear mongering and start embracing a spirit of unity. We are all Americans, and that’s what matters most. As someone once said, “Whether you’re right wing or left wing, we are all part of the same bird. We must fly together.”

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.