Get over your inferiority complex: We’re lucky to be from Kentucky

It seems like many of the young voters I have spoken with are somewhat apathetic about Kentucky’s presidential primary in May. The blame seemingly lies in the fact that Kentucky’s primary is so late in the game.

Naturally, many people assume that the candidates already will have been decided by the other state primaries. To this I respond: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The Democratic nominee in particular remains unsettled, so we young Kentuckians should not count ourselves out yet.

However, I suspect that behind the veneer of “It won’t even matter” lies a far more dangerous feeling that Kentucky is not only irrelevant in the presidential primaries, but is also a nonentity in general.

I wish sometimes that Kentuckians could be more like New Yorkers, rocking a bold accent and signature attitude, being obscenely snobby about local cuisine and talking to everyone about how much they love where they live.

We already have the rabid-sports-fan thing down. Why not embrace a larger sense of Kentucky pride (apologies to any copyrights pertaining to the grocery labels)? Why can’t we be proud of our state like we are proud (sometimes) of our basketball team?

I am aware of the stereotypically negative aspects of our commonwealth, and I am no less immune to resenting the expected overalls, bare feet and illiteracy. So what?

Aside from being the home and namesake of the most internationally recognizable fast-food chain besides McDonald’s, Kentucky boasts numerous other credentials that are a little less greasy and a little more refined.

Kentucky is the only place in the world where bourbon-whiskey is produced. That bourbon is poured into glasses at the chicest bars in major cities all over the world and served to unsuspecting patrons who never guess that their favorite drink is manufactured by a bunch of “hillbillies” and “rednecks.” The horse industry also adds some yuppie-points to Kentucky’s scorecard.

On a less pretentious note, Kentucky is practically bursting with subcultures from east to west.

In Paducah, the Artist Relocation Program has been envied and copied by communities nationwide. In Whitesburg, Appalshop produces progressive documentaries and short films that cover every subject from sports to the environment. Lexington ranks 10th in a list of America’s most educated cities with a population of more than 250,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Everywhere, there is fabulous food grown and raised right next door.

Any doubts about the uniqueness and beauty of the Kentucky landscape? Check out Mammoth Cave, Daniel Boone National Forest and the lakes.

I am traveling to Chicago in a few days, and I know that, as I fly back over the horse farms in Woodford and Fayette counties, I can breathe a sigh of relief at the greenery that is still lush even in the middle of winter, knowing that I am far, far away from the endless, flat, depressing cornfields of Illinois.

We may not know it, but we are so lucky.

We have a beautiful environment, good food, fun Bluegrass music, slow accents and culture coming out our ears. If nobody else knows or sees how amazing Kentucky really is, who cares? We have to know first that Kentucky is not the slum of America, and then maybe everyone else will follow.

Step one in accepting our Kentuckian selves is turning out to vote like it’s nobody else’s business but ours, even if we are the last people in America to do so.

Carrie Bass is an art history senior. E-mail [email protected]