On a latest gray and drizzly morning, cattle rancher Shelley Proffitt welcomed us to her household farm in rural Kings Mountain, N.C. We piled into her pick-up and rode alongside for the final of her day’s chores, watching her toss fistfuls of hay throughout a discipline for her cattle. We had come to go to Proffitt, a 47-year-old registered impartial as a part of NPR’s election sequence The place Voters Are. Her countryside group, like many rural communities throughout America, has voted otherwise from its neighboring large metropolis of Charlotte lately, and we wished to know what has pushed that chasm.
Proffitt was in a position to give us a clear-eyed view of the divide as a result of she used to dwell on the opposite aspect of it. Previous to shifting to Kings Mountain 12 years in the past, she lived in a number of large cities — Boulder, Colo., Seattle, Park Metropolis, Utah, and close by Charlotte. She had labored as a faculty instructor, however nowadays, she raises cattle that’s slaughtered and bought as beef to locals and at a farmer’s market in Charlotte. She says the decrease value of dwelling and slower tempo drew her to the extra rural space the place she additionally had household.
She’s an everyday at Linwood, a captivating cash-only mom-and-pop restaurant with hand-written menus. A cumbersome TV by the register, adorned with a hundred-dollar-bill sticker that includes Trump on its flickery display screen, carries Fox Information all day lengthy as diners gasoline up on hamburger steaks, flounder, slaw and contemporary apple dumplings.
Proffitt says she was most all in favour of Mike Bloomberg on the time of this interview — however says she’ll now help whoever the Democratic nominee is.
Having frolicked within the metropolis and the countryside, Proffitt is keenly conscious of how the 2 communities understand one another. “I feel there’s undoubtedly a false impression that rural persons are silly or dumb, that we’re uneducated. There’s loads of individuals who have school levels right here,” says Proffitt, who blames the media and popular culture for that notion. “Southerners as a complete and rural folks have been offered on tv and media as being idiots and perhaps ignorant and never as articulate.”
That judgement cuts each methods. Proffitt says rural communities can see their city neighbors as “being out of contact with actuality, not likely understanding what is going on on outdoors of these metropolis partitions. I feel they see it as extra of a rat race and, maintaining with the Joneses kind of mentality, whereas in a rural space, they’re centered extra on the easy issues in life.”
The identical day we visited Proffitt on the far fringe of metro Charlotte, our colleague Sarah McCammon met a gaggle of voters in Charlotte’s liberal metropolis heart. Voters there advised her they really feel marginalized by the president’s insurance policies and may’t perceive how his supporters can defend his views and actions. “Lots of people simply aren’t educated,” says Collette Alston, president of the African-American Caucus for the Democratic Occasion. “Lots of people are voting on emotion and worry.”
Individuals who dwell in numerous elements of the identical Charlotte metro space constantly described feeling a world aside from their neighbors.
Proffitt says there’s just one strategy to bridge the divide — to stroll throughout it. To her rural neighbors — “spend per week in Charlotte and exit to dinner and see that you may stroll down the road and never be shot. You possibly can survive in that world,” says Proffitt. “And it is the identical factor with Charlotte of us. Come out. This can be a good life, too, and it is a respectable life. Solely strategy to repair it’s to expertise it.”
Nonetheless disconnected folks could really feel in and round Charlotte, Proffitt’s life illustrates the way in which city and rural areas are literally intertwined. With out her household farm, folks in Charlotte would have much less to eat, and with out Charlotte’s financial progress and tax income, the encompassing countryside can be loads much less affluent.
Kings Mountain and Charlotte are a part of one metro space, although like many cities and their surrounding countryside cities throughout the nation, that will not forestall these areas from making very totally different decisions on the polls once more this November.