That's the impression one California writer had about America's heartland. Leah Singer never imagined that she would end up in Trump Country... but when she moved to Indiana not long ago, her entire perception changed.
In an editorial piece published last weekend in the Indianapolis Star, the author sent a clear message to liberal friends back in California and throughout the country: You might be wrong about "red states."
"I used to say I'd never move to a red state. And then I did. And it's changed my life for the better," Singer admitted.
As a "California girl," the writer explained that the left-leaning west coast sees itself as a bastion of "diversity," but Singer hinted that it was less of a paradise for anybody who didn't parrot the liberal talking points.
"I was raised in California, where we like to believe diversity is applauded and opportunities abound," she explained. "In many ways, California's blue state bubble can be a very safe place to live if you subscribe to the popular liberal politics."
In other words, it was diverse only if you thought and talked the same as everyone else, which kind of defeats the point. Regardless, Singer was a bit apprehensive about starting her new life in a conservative region.
"Over and over, I was questioned about why I would ever leave the Golden State for a 'flyover' red state. This phrase alone troubled me, and the implied perception that one flies over the Midwest just to get to their East or West coast home," she stated.
Like sheltered people naively asking about a faraway land they've only vaguely heard about, the writer's west coast friends had a lot of curiosity about how things were in America's heartland.
"As I settled into life in the Midwest, I heard the same assumptive questions: 'Did everyone you know vote for Donald Trump?' 'Are there African-American, Jewish, Asian, LGBTQ people in Indiana?' 'Do people make fun of you for listening to National Public Radio?'" Singer recalled.
The coastal transplant quickly realized that her past impressions of conservative America were nowhere near the reality.
"As I got to know my new Midwest home, I realize how living in a bubble and subscribing to the Middle America stereotypes is truly damaging to this country," she explained.
"Never does one ask how the Indiana public schools provide many opportunities that have been cut from California's public schools because of one budget crisis after another," Singer continued.
"Never does one ask about the low cost of living that is allowing us to pay off the mountain of debt we accrued in California. And never does one ask about my fellow community members, who are running successful businesses, enriching the city's arts and making a difference for the local environment."
She noticed something that "enlightened" coastal liberals often ignore: Places such as California may not be as truly diverse as they pretend to be.
"Southern California is diverse racially and religiously; it really is not with respect to class or working poor," the writer revealed.
"This is especially the case in San Diego County, where it's becoming more difficult for middle-class families to own a home or afford rent, with 41% of homeowners and 57% of renters spending 30% or more of income on housing, all while incomes stay stagnant, according to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce."
In simple terms, many places in liberal enclaves have become so expensive to live that economic diversity is a thing of the past. It's a bit like pretending that a gated community where everyone is a doctor or lawyer and drives a BMW is "diverse" - different racial boxes may be checked but it's all a bit boring.
In the end, Singer's positive experience with the midwest helped her realize that many coastal elites purposely bury their heads in the sand when it comes to real diversity within the United States.
"(H)ow many of these people travel within their own country to get to know the 'other?' Why travel the globe, but not make an effort to get to know your Midwest neighbor?" the author asked.
"Living in Indiana, I now have an understanding of America that I did not before. I wish more people living outside the middle took the time to get to know the others living a few states away. I did, and I am a better person because of it," she concluded.
She may not completely realize it, but Singer has stumbled upon an important fact. Liberal obsession with diversity often shuns true multiculturalism - a variety of opinions, thoughts and political stances - and instead focuses on the "feel good" categorization of irrelevant traits like skin color.
In many of the most important ways, conservative areas of the country are advancing while liberal neighborhoods face major problems.
Thankfully, people like Singer are having their eyes opened once they actually escape their bubble... and they're realizing what conservatives have known for decades: Small town America might be on to something after all.
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