In 2016 I wrote an evaluation of observations of what I was hearing in the United States regarding political and social opinions expressed by everyday Americans in their community settings as I traveled this great country. This evaluation was read by many top-level and influential Republicans and Conservatives. (Notice I separate the two) I would travel to small-town America, rural America, urban America – mostly outside the beltway of Washington D.C. and most importantly, between the two liberal coasts. It is important to understand that many blue states are dominated by deep blue counties and often carry that state into liberal blue leanings. Most of the counties in these blue states are often red, but they just do not have the combined population density to overcome the overwhelming liberal voters concentrated into large metropolitan areas.

I grew up in the Appalachian region of the United States. This area was deep blue state America during my early formative years. A great transformation took hold in this once deep blue America in the 1980’s and now this once-great bastion of Democratic rule overwhelmingly transformed into Conservative Republican Rule. Why?

I hope to answer that as I write in future articles to this wonderful new venue for free speech, “The Whiskey Patriots”.

In Appalachia, in the years preceding TV and even radio, the only way for these rural Americans to learn what was taking place in the rest of the world, outside their county, or even “holler” (a small valley between mountains) was to meet at the company store or general store. Indicative of these stores was a “pickle barrel”. Simply put, it was a barrel full of vinegar and pickles. Many people came to the store to purchase items essential to survival in such isolated areas. They would gather around this “pickle barrel” and read the local and state papers. Remember those? They would discuss freely their understandings of the issues and news of the day, offer their opinions to one another in civil discourse (or in some heated conversations a “feud” would ensue.) Whatever the tone of the discussion, the news and opinions of the community would be heard and disseminated to the outside world, or perhaps the world would be forgotten and the challenges of everyday life would take precedence, as they often did in such areas. This holds true today as it did back then.

Today’s “pickle barrel” is still the local store, but now includes the local laundry, restaurants, Home Goods stores, bars, coffee shops, local sporting events, doctor’s offices, parks, and work. At each of these venues you will always find a group of people talking about current events, politics, crime, education, the opioid crisis, who got drunk last night and got arrested, and who is in love with who and why.

As I traveled this great country I would often find myself immersed in these local “pickle barrel” discussions as a casual but innocuous observer. I never influenced the discussion. I only listened to the collective wisdom of the people and on occasion I would interject and issue a few clarifying statements, being mindful as not to influence the discussion or opinions I was observing.

I would communicate my observations to the mood, temperament, and what issues were of the utmost importance to the people. I was listening to and contrasting these views and opinions to what was being reported in the mainstream media within the D.C. Beltway and those Deep Blue Coastal States. I found those differences were striking and the result of the 2016 election was proof of the bias that is ever prevalent in the mainstream media. They got it so wrong! They were surprised!  “We the People” outside these liberal bastions and media were not!

The feelings I hear are the same biases being made, but with so much hyperventilation on anything Trump. It’s in a mega phone now. But somehow this is now different in one ominous and deeply concerning regard: censorship!

Censorship has become so bad that I hear miners, auto workers, welders, construction workers and old men and women sitting on a porch whose first newscast was by radio or a movie news real, freely and accurately use the terms “shadow blocking”, “packet filtering” and “autocomplete algorithms”. They discuss the coordinated effort of the left liberal media and the Masters of the Universe Tech Giants: Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. Then they arrive at some point to the biased mainstream media. This is not being lost on the common man. The media and the masters are overlooking this fact as they did with Trump’s victory possibilities.

There is a deep and convincing need for reliable bias-free news. Here is the caveat the media and tech masters are missing: We the People want to figure it out for ourselves, not be told what is “real news” and do not want to be spoon fed what someone in D.C., NYC or LA – and heaven forbid Hollywood – says is real news! We are smart, informed, and we can figure this out for ourselves.

Remember, these are only observations and my opinions of these issues, values, and subject matter of the conversations I experience in over the “pickle barrel”. I am humble enough to know I could be wrong from time to time, but I will always be honest in what I hear.

Until next time, God bless.


Rick Clay is an accomplished senior management executive with more than 30 years expertise in technical operations management, civil and military Infrastructure development, project management, government relations, and military operations. Mr. Clay was appointed by President George W. Bush White House as the Senior Deputy Adviser with responsibility to oversee the Iraqi Ministry of Housing and Construction. He has served both as a US Marine and a West Virginia National Guardsman.