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Title: America the elites ignore: Driving through US ‘flyover country’ in a time of Covid-19
Source: Russia Today
URL Source: https://www.rt.com/op-ed/498058-america-roadtrip-flyover-country/
Published: Aug 16, 2020
Author: Nebojsa Malic
Post Date: 2020-08-17 12:38:47 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 169

The establishment clustered in big coastal cities often derisively refers to the rest of the US as “flyover country.” It’s this area, though, that makes the beating heart of America – as I realized during a recent road trip.

Earlier this month, due to a tragic family event, my wife and I found ourselves on the road to Minnesota from Washington, DC. Normally we would fly, just like most Americans traveling across such distances, but there was no time to make those arrangements. So we drove 1,100 miles across eight states – and back again – within a week. 

Though the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data,’ those looking at America strictly through the lens of statistics and models tend to focus on the forest but miss the proverbial trees. With that in mind, here’s some of what we saw along the way. Make of it what you will.

Moving vans

Whenever we’d get close to a city, the roads would fill up with vans and small trucks rented by movers. This would track with the mounting evidence that Americans who can afford it are picking up stakes.

Whether it’s because of their city or state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, job opportunities elsewhere, or the collapse of law and order in the wake of “racial justice” protests-turned-riots that broke out at the end of May, I can’t even venture to guess. 

On the long stretches of highway between cities, we spotted quite a few big trucks used for long-distance moves, too. 

Big rigs & cops

These big rigs are the actual primary users of the US Interstate Highway System. The 18-wheeler tractor-trailers dominate the US cargo industry, carrying nearly two thirds of all freight. Moreover, most American businesses are structured around the idea of just-in-time delivery, rather than keeping stocks of unsold merchandise. That actually caused massive shortages of certain products at the start of Covid-19 lockdowns in March.

Anything that gets in the way of the big rigs, then, spells bad news for the US economy. As we passed them on the road, I recalled a June report from a website serving commercial drivers, saying that four out of five truckers polled would refuse to deliver to cities that defunded their police departments, citing safety concerns. 

Austin, Texas just voted to cut its police budget by a third. Another dozen cities have already done so, from New York City and Los Angeles to Baltimore. Portland and Seattle, still plagued by rioters, have cut funding to their police as well. Minneapolis, where the most recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests began in late May over the death of George Floyd, actually voted to abolish its police department entirely! 

One doesn’t have to be particularly observant to spot a potential problem with this, barreling down the road like an out-of-control tractor-trailer.

Covid-19 fallout

In most gas stations, restaurants and convenience stores we visited along the way, employees and customers dutifully wore face masks. A few people, locals by the look of them, seemed otherwise inclined. Nobody hassled them or made a scene. 

Halfway through Illinois, an older gentleman sitting across from us at a burger joint groused about the governor’s tyrannical mask mandates. He was diabetic, he said, so he needed to work out – but just quit his gym membership because they demanded he wear a mask while exercising indoors.

His story reminded me of the ongoing saga of a New Jersey gym, which tried reopening in defiance of the governor’s orders, only for its owners to be arrested and their premises boarded up. 

Later I found out that the state took away their business license – just as Michigan did to a barber that reopened in defiance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders, back in May. The barber was eventually vindicated by the state supreme court. The owners of Atilis Gym are still fighting their fight. 

Dystopia rising

What happens in parts of America we drove through largely doesn’t matter to the NY-LA-DC establishment. Even Minneapolis, where the George Floyd riots started, was quickly forgotten as the “cultural revolution” emerging from them went national. Only a few independent reporters, like Michael Tracey, actually bothered to travel to places devastated by the riots.

Yet it is these vast expanses that grow the food the coastal “elites” consume – once in pricey restaurants, now via  high-tech delivery. Though they have happily outsourced much of America’s manufacturing overseas – turning the once-proud industrial states into the Rust Belt – some things required for US global hegemony are still made in the Midwest; we drove past the sprawling M1-Abrams tank plant in Lima, Ohio. 

This relationship bears an uncanny resemblance to the attitudes of the Capitol toward the Districts in the ‘Hunger Games’ novels. Those were supposed to be a dystopian warning, however, not a roadmap.

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