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MPR News

Flyover: What is the 'real' America?

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Flyover from MPR News
Flyover from MPR News
MPR News

Politicians often portray "real America" as some nostalgic, heartland-rooted, mythical place that is somehow more genuine than the coasts or the cities of this country. 

The phrase is loaded with race, class and identity — but most of the common definitions for "real America" focus on working-class white people.

Let's consider FiveThirtyEight's definition of "real" Americans as white Christians without a college degree living in the Midwest or the South. That accounts for just 20 percent of people living in the U.S.

When we define "real America" in terms of exclusion, "that's where we start to get in trouble," said Nina Revoyr, an author and advocate for low-income children and families. This leaves some people feeling left out of the national dialogue as political pandering continues to focus on just a fraction of the nation. 

Many of those who called into Flyover's live broadcast or shared their thoughts online agreed: the "real America" is broad, and it includes all of us. 

Flyover host Kerri Miller's conversations on this week's show took us from the flood-ravaged Gulf Coast to rural Idaho to Hallam, Pennsylvania. 

Use the audio player above to hear the conversation, and subscribe to the podcast to get every episode in your feed each week.

Guests

• Neena Satija — Texas Tribune investigative reporter and radio producer for Reveal.  

• Sean Palmer — Teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston and co-host of the "Not So Black & White" podcast.

• Maria Kefalas — Professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and the co-author of "Hollowing out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it means for America."

• Nina Revoyr — Author whose latest book is called "Lost Canyon," and an advocate for low-income children and families.