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Voters in Clever, Missouri: Frustrated that Federal Government is Not Representing Rural America

Clever, Missouri, is a town of just over 1,000 people in rural southwest Missouri. (File photo, credit: KSMU)
Clever, Missouri, is a town of just over 1,000 people in rural southwest Missouri. (File photo, credit: KSMU)

As our "Road to the Capitol" election coverage continues, we're bringing you a series of "Cafe Reports" from across the Ozarks.  Just ten minutes south of Republic sits the small town of Clever, Missouri, population just over 1,000. At the intersection of State Highway P and Highway 14, you see a gas station, a daycare facility, and the only family-owned restaurant in a ten-mile vicinity: the Corner Café.   In this Cafe Report, KSMU's Rebekah Clark brings us a flavor of the concerns and sentiments of voters there.

[Sound:  restaurant noise]

Coffee, eggs, toast, bacon.  Some of the locals who come to dine at the Corner Café have been eating there for years. Many are rural workers with strong ties to the area.

Election Day is a week and a half away, and several of these diners say they're just ready for all of the campaigning to be over.

Julie Williams is a resident of Billings, six miles east of Clever. She’s says she’s not sure where our country is going, and that scares her.

“I think I’m mostly concerned about feeling like the current administration, though their intentions are the best, are going to bring everyone down as opposed to lifting people up. I think you can’t continue to give and give and give without people earning it. The government assistance is necessary, but it’s at an extreme level right now, and we have to find some way to make that better.”

Moreland Kenneth is retired. He says he doesn’t think it matters who’s president. Instead, he thinks Americans should turn their attention to the Congress and change things there.

“What I think [is] they are like school kids. They get mad at each other and they don’t want to talk. This country definitely needs some talking done. I’ve always said my whole life I think what they need to do is have working people up there. You get a bunch of rich people up there, they don’t know what it’s like.”

He says he cares mostly about creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy.

Gary Minor lived in Kansas before moving to Clever. He says he used to be a “hardcore liberal,” and even swayed his conservative wife to the Democratic side. Now, he doesn’t want anything to do with the party.

“The biggest issue is the power Obama has taken over from Congress. He scares me half to death. I’m going to say this, and I don’t care if anybody likes it or not. I think he’s the anti-Christ. I believe it. One of the things that bothers me more than anything else is the fact that he has taken his executive powers and eliminated our checks-and-balances.”

Across the room, Mona Watkins, J.D. Meeks, and Jack Key sit down to order breakfast. All three are from Reeds Spring, and all three are worried about the country. They say they're most concerned about the military and high prices of gasoline and food.    

“I guess, just like they said, the biggest issue and what has caused our recession has been the cost of gasoline, and nobody wants to deal with that. And the price of food and everything has gone up. To me, that’s one of the most important things, to get these high dollar billionaires that are in the oil companies to quit being so greedy.”

One overriding sentiment here at the Corner Café is that there aren’t enough rural representatives in government to truly be able to speak for small town folks like them.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.