Potts moved back to her hometown of Clinton, pop. 2,500, to write a book about low-income women in Arkansas. She is frustrated not just by conservative politics, but conservative rural people, and displays that: "People like my neighbors hate that the government is spending money on those who don’t look like them and don’t live like them — but what I’ve learned since I came home is that they remain opposed even when they themselves stand to benefit," Potts writes. "Since coming back, I’ve realized that it is true that people here think life here has taken a turn for the worse. What’s also true, though, is that many here seem determined to get rid of the last institutions trying to help them, to keep people with educations out, and to retreat from community life and concentrate on taking care of themselves and their own families. It’s an attitude that is against taxes, immigrants and government, but also against helping your neighbor."
However, Potts writes, many locals believed $25 an hour was far too much. One commented on a community Facebook page: "If you want to make $25 an hour, please go to a city that can afford it . . . We the people are not here to pay your excessive salaries through taxation or in any other way." Potts notes that other Clinton residents who make similar incomes, mostly teachers, kept quiet on the issue to avoid drawing their neighbors' ire.
When Potts wrote in the Facebook thread that librarians must have a master's degree, others responded by questioning that. "Call me narrow-minded, but I’ve never understood why a librarian needs a four-year degree," someone wrote. "We were taught Dewey decimal system in grade school. Never sounded like anything too tough." The library board withdrew its request.
Potts draws bitter conclusions: "I didn’t realize it at first, but the fight over the library was rolled up into a bigger one about the library building, and an even bigger fight than that, about the county government, what it should pay for, and how and whether people should be taxed at all. The library fight was, itself, a fight over the future of rural America, what it meant to choose to live in a county like mine, what my neighbors were willing to do for one another, what they were willing to sacrifice to foster a sense of community here. The answer was, for the most part, not very much."