If you didn't feel a rush of pride over President Bush's visit to Poplar Bluff on Monday, then something's wrong with you. You don't have to agree with his policies nor even plan on casting a vote for him, but when the President of the United States visits this area, by golly you should swell with pride.
And hats off to the two businessmen who dreamed up the idea of gathering signatures to attract the President. It just illustrates that a good idea combined with some hard work can indeed move mountains. All in all, Poplar Bluff should be proud and the entire region should share in the pride of this unique visit.
We all know that the President's visit also clearly underscores the importance of Missouri in the upcoming election. The urban centers of St. Louis and Kansas City will fall heavily into the Democratic column while the overwhelming number of out-state counties will fall into the Republican category. But let's break down that divide to the fundamentals.
The urban centers are heavily minority and concentrated union strongholds where reliance on government programs is a way of life. The rural centers reflect a more conservative approach with smaller government and a much greater emphasis on self-reliance and personal initiative. It's pretty simple. The Democrats, this time around, promise a growing government with more tax dollars funneled to those unable or unwilling to provide for themselves. The Republicans promise a lower tax burden and an emphasis on the individual - not some group or class of people.
Now that's a relative broad brush to paint for each party but in general terms, it's appropriate.
These were the themes addressed by President Bush on Monday in Poplar Bluff. And by all accounts, he played to an adoring audience. Now don't misunderstand. John Kerry could come to this region and address his fair share of followers as well. But don't underestimate the amazing power and awe that comes with the highest office in this land, regardless of the party or the individual.
It's a lesson in futility to discuss the Presidential race at this point and predict some outcome. All that matters is that Missouri's status in this election has perhaps never been higher. And that recognition and importance gives us the opportunity to share our voices and our visions.
On a different and somewhat personal note, it was drawn to my attention that a newspaper in Maryland last week used one of our editorials as their lead opinion piece of the day. They published our opinions not necessarily because they agreed or disagreed. They published our opinions because they wanted their readers to understand and appreciate the views coming from this region which has taken on a high profile in this election. Point being, people are listening to the views from our little corner of the world.
The memories from this Presidential visit will fade with time. But the fact that the most powerful figure in the entire world visited our area and shared his views, says much about the ability of this government to listen to the views of all - the powerful and the powerless alike. If that doesn't make you proud, get a grip!