Kevin Ryan: America, country versus city

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Imagine a prairie, red in bloodshot light, swollen with corn.

You're in a rocking chair, on a porch, looking out at fields of grain, surrounded by friends and family. Now imagine an urban sprawl, a landscape of fog and metal and sidewalk and car horns. From the patio of your high-rise apartment, you look out at the city, as a dinner party churns.

One thing I hear repeatedly from people in rural areas is, "I cannot believe the amount of hatred Trump faces. It's unprecedented."

If you measure public opinion via mainstream media — excluding Fox News, which is definitely part of the so-called mainstream media — you'd understandably assume that most Americans hate Trump's guts.

Yet nearly 63 million people voted for him in 2016. Still fewer than Hillary Clinton, although Trump nabbed the electoral vote by a far larger margin.

When I talk to people in cities, they often have a gauzy idea about Trump supporters. To them, Trump supporters are faraway anomalies. The obverse is true in smaller towns, especially in the countryside — and not just the South or in Middle America, you'll find tons of Trump flags along the backroads of Oregon and California, same for the East coast.

Earlier this summer, I was at a gun range in Clear Lake, Texas and a half-dozen people were wearing MAGA hats, including one of the Ranger Officers. Drive an hour north on the Gulf Freeway, into the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, and you'll find a much different dynamic.

And Clear Lake is by no means a small town, not compared to all those towns throughout Texas with 200 people and a gas station.

Because the divide is multifold. And impressively, nearly all of the separate attributes at play are polarized.

Probably because liberals and conservatives literally don't even live in the same places. Rarely cross paths.

There are two America's, same as ever. The countryside and the city. I've lived in both. And as I travel around America for this series, I see the delicate kingdoms of each.

So as I travel around from state to state, through all the different towns and cities, I feel the presence of Walt Whitman's great poem "America."

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair'd in the adamant of Time

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In 2016, a paltry 12 percent of Trump voters lived in urban areas, compared to Clinton's 32 percent. The numbers were basically flipped, with 35 percent of Trump voters in rural areas, compared to 19 percent of Clinton voters in rural areas.

This divide was even more dramatic along partisan lines.

As noted by Pew Research Center,

Virtually all validated voters with consistently liberal values voted for Clinton over Trump (95% to 2%), while nearly all those with consistently conservative values went for Trump (98% to less than 1% for Clinton).

So it makes sense that neither side would understand the other. Especially when you toss in a dose of American combativeness.

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In the words of Aristotle, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Which is not to say that Americans aren't of an educated mind, although it is something we have historically been sensitive about, particularly in relation to art and literature.

Rather, my point is that there are gradations of ignorance.

A continuum.

Some forms of ignorance are more forgivable than others. And a certain type of ignorance is not forgivable at all.

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Our hindrance, as Americans, is that we are — well, we are stubborn people. I've lived outside America, and traveled extensively. My father is Irish, and I have dual citizenship.

I will say that every country has problems. Unique problems.

As Americans, we tend to lean on convenience, even if we don't see it as a luxury. Which, let's be real, it totally is.

We take for granted that, when you're in public and you need to use a toilet, there's one nearby. And it's free. And clean.

Or showers. How often are we forced to take cold showers?

I know I'm doing a lot of generalizing here, but I've thought about it a lot, and it's all based on my desire to see Americans get along better. To rouse the humanity in all of us.

We Americans will always thrive with a pioneer spirit. A wildness. Rebels.

And Americans are undoubtedly some of the kindest, most generous people on earth.

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But we also tend to focus exclusively on ourselves, our country, our city, our town, our yard, our skyline. Which happens everywhere, yes, but not like here. More often, we can't even imagine the other worlds within our own country.

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Here's an exercise, if you're a born-and-bred American.

Name a dozen living world leaders. Now a dozen more.

Describe the Croatian flag, or the flag of any African country. Can you tell the difference between the Salvadorian flag and the flag of Argentina?

Sing a few national Anthems.

Revolutions or uprisings are currently taking place in the following countries or regions: Chile, Iran, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Hong Kong, Libya, Niger, Lebanon, Iraq, France, Puerto Rico, Haiti, you get the idea.

Because people in other countries know far more about America than we know about them. Which, at times, can be heart-breaking:

Protesters singing the American national anthem

Don't get me wrong, I probably got the same score on that little quiz as you did.

Probably lower, actually, as the folks who contact me about my stories have the most astute and insightful observations.

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Want to know the one thing we can all agree on as Americans? Cutting in line is unforgivable. Any sort of line. We learn this from a young age. Internalize it, collectively. If you ask us, we say that line-cutters deserve the great heat of an eternal hell!

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Real talk here. We're spoiled, and occasionally we act like it. Although, most of the time — say, while traveling abroad — we're so kind that we come off as naïve, which is charming when you think of it.

And most of all, we are big, in mind and heart and spirit. In the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes.

You'd never know it, but Americans comprise a mere 4 percent of the world's population.

And, look, I'm not here to trash America. I love our country.

And I find much of the criticisms of our country to be rooted in cowardice, even when they are legitimate.

More than a few times, in Spain or Germany, I listened to locals excoriate the States. While drinking a Coca-Cola, and wearing Levi's Jeans, and nodding their head to Bruce Springsteen, as the Simpsons plays on the TV and a Cormac McCarthy novel rests on their bookshelf.

Most people I've met abroad like America. And they love Americans.

They admire our weird, endless spirit.

Poet Theodore Roethke wrote, "What's freedom for?"

In readings of the poem, he lets the question hang in the air for a moment, then answers it with a bellow.

"To know eternity."

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Not only are we heartedly multicultural, our diversity is natural.

With regard to race and ethnicity, the U.S. usually occupies the middle of the chart.

But what's unique about the U.S. is that an American can be any race, ethnicity, sex, gender, age, color.

And this is our golden age.

You'd never know it, but Americans comprise a mere 4 percent of the world's population. Because, most of all, we are big, in mind and heart and spirit. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes.

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Ask liberals to describe conservatives, and vice versa, and you'll find that both sides tend to depict the other in a ghoulishly inaccurate and unflattering way. Conservatives often see liberals as elitist, intolerant, self-important, and out-of-touch.

Whereas liberals see conservatives as dumb, intolerant, backwards, and out-of-touch.

Either way, it's a pretty bad way to start a conversation.

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We know the statistics by now. White voters accounted for 88 percent of the Trump vote. And far fewer Trump supporters were non-college whites.

More white women voted for Trump than for Clinton.

Of all the groups, Black women accounted for the fewest Trump votes, so few that its nearly statistically insignificant. In total, Trump got 6 percent of the Black vote.

A few things have changed since then. Specifically, Candace Owens and Kanye West.

I'll profile Owens in a later installment, for the last six months or so, I've been reporting on it. The vociferous, charming, and unbelievable 30-year-old woman at the helm of a strange new countercultural movement re-shaping America. She wears her MAGA hat when she travels, and she travels most days of the year.

She has led #Blexit, a movement geared at empowering the black community to vote Republican.

Kanye West, who was emboldened by Owen's unflinching style and bold words, regularly defends his support of Trump.

Those two events alone are bound to increase the number of Black Americans who vote for Trump in 2020.

I'll be at Kanye's performance in Houston on Sunday, at Joel Osteen's mega-church. And, about the time this story publishes, I'll be en route to Bossier City, Louisiana for my third Trump rally in as many weeks. And everywhere I travel for this series, I see the recurring qualities unique to our country.

Those two events alone are bound to increase the number of Black Americans who vote for Trump in 2020.

We Americans are generally honest people. We are straightforward yet empathetic. Just contrast general American English with general British English. We are cowboys and roughshod poets, they are royalty and cautious essayists.

In the introduction to this series, I described today's America, our America, as "a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting."

My aim, along the way, has been to scour for remedies. To posit whatever positivity I can. Like prayer in public, to tens of thousands of people every week.

As I see it, we will fix America by living out our most American ideals. By speaking from our spirit, no gimmickry or slogans or con men in the way.

We need truth. Its function is to guide us to redemption.

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The most insidious criticism of America comes from inside. It is much different than protest. Because America is a free country. We can express our beliefs and opinions how we like. That includes kneeling athletes and flag-defiling musicians. Dissent is allowed and patriotism is by no means required.

What I'm talking about is subtler. It can arise from any point on the political spectrum. Left, right, center. Even be apolitical. It embodies the unforgivable ignorance I mentioned above. People who spit at the world around them, lacking self-awareness, unaware of the privilege that comes with living in America. They've never left, never even tried. Yet they remain certain, until their opinions mutate into hatred, and only want to destroy. They deny humanity, they choose nihilism.

It's easy to be cynical about something you don't understand. Humanity is the realization that all of this has meaning. That every moment of life is charged with an existential purpose. That death is a life with no meaning.

This video makes the rounds every once in a while. It's meant to denounce the spirit of our country, to drain it of meaning, but just comes off as snotty and high-minded, which, to be fair, are trademarks of a quality Aaron Sorkin monologue.

All my life, my father, an immigrant, has told me that America is the greatest country in the world. Just look at the Democratic Presidential candidates. Andrew Yang's parents emigrated from Taiwan, he flourished, now he's running for President. Bernie Sanders, son of a man who fled Poland as a teenage high school drop-out with a poor grasp of English, is now also running for President. Or Pete Buttigieg, whose father emigrated from Malta in 1979. Kamala Harris' mother emigrated from India, her father from Jamaica.

In other words, seven immigrants, all from different continents, traveled to America with hope and their eyes, and now their children have a realistic chance of being the President of the country. From the bottom to the top, in one generation.That would be like if your parents emigrated to America from another country, worked hard, then you went on to become a realistic candidate for the most important job in the entire world. Now do that three more times.

Because there is nothing to compare it to.

It becomes all the more impressive the farther you zoom out.

Imagine taking a time machine back to Ancient Egypt and trying to make your way up the ladder so that your son could become Pharaoh. You'd zap into the sand and straight into slavery. Immediately. And your kids? Assuming you even had time for love, on account of all the pyramid building, slaves, also.

And even if you were somehow able to maneuver to the top, you could still die at any moment of some horrific, now-curable disease.

Or be poisoned by Cleopatra.

Or be "suicided" by Romans, never to be found.

Or just vanish, despite your being the Pharaoh.

Or be decapitated by your own father.

Or drown in the Nile.

Or lose your firstborn in a Biblical plague.

All of which were fates that Pharaohs actually suffered. And even the lucky Pharaohs, they didn't have air conditioning or cars or pizza delivery.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Glenn Beck joined Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Thursday night to discuss Visa Inc.'s "horrifying" new plans to flag firearm sales by separately categorizing purchases at gun shops, a move that Glenn aptly described as "the next step in banning guns."

In what's been hailed as a major victory for gun control activists, Visa agreed to adopt the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) new set of standards by creating a special merchant category code for gun and ammunition sales.

In his appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Glenn shared a letter written by Robert B. Thomson III, a senior vice president at Visa, showing that the credit card company initially pushed back on the ISO's new rules.

“We believe that asking payment networks to serve as a moral authority by deciding which legal goods can or cannot be purchased sets a dangerous precedent,” Thomson wrote in the letter to pro-gun-control lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Just days later, however, Visa had agreed to comply with the ISO's plan to establish a new merchant category code for gun stores. So why did Visa suddenly flip?

As Glenn explained, it all comes down to pressure from America's largest union-owned bank, the Amalgamated Bank, one of the only unionized banks in the United States and a proud proponent of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing.

"This is the next step in banning guns," Glenn asserted.

"It's horrifying!" Tucker responded after several seconds of stunned silence.

"I'm so grateful you did the reporting on this," he told Glenn. "I'm not sure why it falls to you since we have a couple of very large daily newspapers in this country you'd think would want to report this, yet none of them did. So, Glenn Beck did."


On a recent episode of "The Glenn Beck Program," Glenn broke down the details of this latest attack on the Second Amendment and revealed how this is a step toward something even worse than federal gun registration. Watch the video clip below for more details. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

Glenn Beck: Here's why Stacey Abrams' fetal heartbeat remarks are hilarious but TERRIFYING

(Left) Image source: video screenshot/ (right) Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has a new pro-abortion conspiracy theory: "There is no such thing as a [fetal] heartbeat at six weeks ... it is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have a right to take control of a woman’s body."

On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere agreed Abrams' latest "misinformation" is not just ridiculous but could be dangerous if people are actually willing to believe her.

"If you want to defend abortion, go ahead and defend it. Defend what you're actually doing. Stop denying what is reality," Stu said. "If this is such a great defensible policy, then just come out and defend it, but they never can ... you notice how they can't go to the actual thing they say is so important. They keep defending these other things that aren't true."

Glenn said the pro-choice movement was successful for a long time because most people want the decision to be up to the woman and her doctor and that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. But when leftists began "celebrating" their abortions or calling for "abortion on demand" at any point in the pregnancy, that's when they start to lose support.

"Because they've celebrated abortion and are losing regular people, you can't put that genie back in the bottle. So, what do they have to do now? They have to take the insane step of discrediting medical machines and technology," Glenn said.

"This is after two years, by the way, of them claiming the biggest scandal in the world was people suggesting the voting machines were hacked — after they previously said that voting machines were hacked in elections they [Democrats] lost," Stu pointed out.

"Honestly, gang, think this through because this is where life gets very scary. This is where you go to authoritarian rule and you can kill millions of people because you're truly now discrediting things that everyone knows is true," Glenn warned.

"So, if you disagree ... you can say that is an evil magic box that has made up sounds in it to convince people. If they will buy that, you're at the Salem witch trials. 'If she doesn't float, she wasn't a witch.' That's what you're looking at right now — and what's frightening is, [Abrams] can say this with a straight face and no one discredits her," he continued.

"You don't think that they can convince those people that you are a terrorist because of the way you vote? [...] You don't think they can convince half the country that you should be eliminated, liquidated, put into a camp, whatever authoritarians love to do? ... We are headed towards dangerous, dangerous times. We better wake up and stand together because this is frightening — it's hilarious — but because people are taking it seriously, it is terrifying," Glenn added.

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

A big question Glenn Beck has always had about “The Amazing Do-Over” is: How do you get the most powerful and wealthy nation that has ever existed to accept, “You will own nothing … and be happy”? A foundational principle of this country from its very inception has been land ownership. We worked hard, were fiscally responsible, and stayed away from high debt, but the progressive era began to erode all of that.

The Clinton Global Initiative recently gathered the ruling class to tell the plebes how to run their finances and called anyone who dared challenge their ideas “climate change deniers.” Glenn argues we are dangerously far down the “Road to Serfdom” and exposes the progressive playbook to keep us in line. It’s a 600-year-old medieval model that’s been the plan all along.

We’re already feeling economic pain, and yet they’re playing “Game of Thrones” with our lives. Turning us into serfs is their ultimate goal. How do they finish the complete restructuring of the American financial system and our way of life?

On Wednesday night's "Glenn TV," Glenn connects it all on the chalkboard and details the solution to fighting back against the ruling elites.

Watch the full episode below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

These days, it seems like everything is about politics, and comedy has been one of the biggest targets. Many comedians are walking on eggshells, but stand-up comedian and "Saturday Night Live" alum Jim Breuer isn't one of them.

Breuer joined Glenn on the latest episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast" to talk about why he’d rather be funny than fearful and what inspired his hilarious comedy special, “Somebody Had to Say It," which has garnered almost 1.5 million views as of this writing.

Breuer made it clear that he does not consider himself to be political. "I'm not. I'm 100% not [political]," he told Glenn, before explaining how people started calling him political when he dared to ask questions about a certain shot that we're not allowed to mention, let alone question.

"When did medicine become political?" Breuer asked.

"What kind of price have you paid for being called political?" Glenn asked Breuer.

"To be dead honest with you, once COVID really kicked in, and ... once you realize we're not going to be here, that we're on borrowed time, and I do have God in my life ... you come to terms with reality on a deeper level. And when COVID kicked in, I said, 'You know what? All bets are off.' I already knew I wasn't in control. But now, not only am I not in control from the natural order of life, but now the puppet masters ... are in control," Breuer answered.

"It made me realize I don't have time to worry about what people think of me. I know where I'm at in life. I know where I'm at spiritually. I know where I'm at with my family," he added.

"That's tremendous power," Glenn said. "But it spooks the hell out of people."

"But it shouldn't!" Breuer exclaimed. "I'm excited that other people get this ... but they're stuck. We ain't got time for stuck. To me, this is the time of, 'You gotta rise.' For years and years and years, you allow fear to control your life. Fear of dying. Fear I might get sick ... everything's based out of fear. It's time for the fearless."

Breuer also revealed his secret for dealing with tough times, and he’s seen his share. But he also said he's seen miracles, including the incredible (and hilariously told) story of how he found faith, how God saved his marriage, and why one family friend was convinced his wife belonged to a cult.



Watch the full episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast" below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.