Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls. Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, expanding to smother half the country — a graphical metaphor for the dominant cultural influence of city over country.

The Rural WayCity-dwellers and suburbanites get a hard lesson in human nature, common sense, and the value of self-reliance.
By VICTOR DAVIS HANSONNovember 24, 2020
Almost every national Election Night reveals the same old red/blue map. The country geographically is a sea of red. The coasts and small areas along the southern border and around the Great Lakes remain blue atolls.
Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, expanding to smother half the country — a graphical metaphor for the dominant cultural influence of city over country.
Ideological differences are now being recalibrated as rural-urban on issues from guns and abortion to taxes and foreign policy. 
Red/conservative is often synonymous with small-town and rural.Blue/progressive is equivalent to urban/suburban.
Gone are the old New Deal Democratic coalitions of New England and the South, or the 19th- and mid-20th-century Republican alliances between the farm belt and the mid-Atlantic states.
Instead, globalization has become a worrisome force-multiplying effect of geography, culture, and ideology — not seen since the political differences of the pre-Civil War mapped out two potentially different Americas, north and south of the Mason-Dixon line.
On Election Night, news analysts and talking heads matter-of-factly cite returns as if there is no need to explain that the red areas are more rural and conservative, while the blue cities and suburbs are more progressive. A few small adjustments are made for Republican-run cities in mostly red Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas, and some blue or purple rural states such as Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine that serve as rural retirements and refuges for the nearby blue states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.
The media figures who report on the election are urban denizens. Few have any idea of why half the country votes as it does. So they just assume that pollsters, like themselves, are better educated, smarter, and of greater value to society than those whom they often to fail to find in their surveys.
The cities since antiquity have been considered cosmopolitan and progressive; the countryside, traditional and conservative. In the positive appraisal, Western literature always thematically emphasized the sophistication and energy of cities, balanced by the purity and autonomy of the country.
More darkly, in the pejorative sense, the former of the cities were all too prone to Petronian decadence and excess; the latter outside the walls, to Aristophanic parochialism and rusticity. Aristotle adjudicated the divide in his Politics by arguing that the “best” type of democracy was in a sense the least — and thus the most rural (farmers by necessity would have less time to walk into town, loiter about, and as “agora-lounger” busybodies cram the assembly).
Much of these eternal radical differences transcend time and space. Even in the age of a mobile and transient population — and our omnipresent Internet, social media, cellphones, and telecommuting — the material landscapes, population densities, and need for physical work still explain radical differences in outlook and mindset. That eternal divide guided our gentry Framers. In classical terms, they took for granted that their farms and urban lives balanced each other and remedied the limitations of each.
That fact of the rural/urban dichotomy is underappreciated, but it remains at the heart of the Constitution — to the continuing chagrin of our globalist coastal elite who wish to wipe it out. The Electoral College and the quite antithetical makeup of the Senate and the House keep a Montana, Utah, or Wyoming from being politically neutered by California and New York. The idea, deemed outrageously “unfair” by academics and the media, is that a Wyoming rancher might have as much of a say in the direction of the country as thousands of more redundant city dwellers. Yet the classical idea of federal republicanism was to save democracy by not allowing 51 percent (of an increasingly urban population) to create laws on any given day at any given hour.
So the originalist theories of the Founders — nursed on classical tropes found in bucolic, pastoral, and agrarian romance, and on the skepticism of human nature conveyed throughout classical political philosophy — was that in a republic, real diversity is needed to offset sheer numbers. That is, rural voices, always to be in a minority, provided checks on the exuberance and occasional danger of the volatile cities, prone to fads that could devolve into hysteria and worse.
Few city dwellers realize that half the country probably always found the increasingly hyped burlesque halftime shows of the Super Bowl buffoonish, boring, and a time to wash dishes, make a beer run, or shut off the television. The old network anchors never grasped that plenty didn’t appreciate their snarky frowns and their eye-rolling. 
Articles written under the masthead of the New York Times mean no more to someone in North Dakota than posts from a blogger with a well-viewed website.
Live in Portland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., or New York, or watch news generated from there, and an American might think that what BLM and Antifa wrought this summer was America’s collective future — until one paused and thought, “Why don’t they try all that across the small towns of Kansas or in the midsize cities of Utah or the suburbs of Oklahoma City?” And, “Why isn’t Antifa taking hold in Tulare County, Calif., or Arkansas?”
The Western exegeses of these differences was often simplistic. Rural people, with or without proximity to the frontier, had to rely more on themselves for their own defense, for obtaining their water, for disposing their sewage, for feeding themselves. What they did not make or grow themselves, they saw produced by others living around them — minerals, metals, fuels, wood — to be sent into the city.
Nature for them was not distant, not a romance, but a mercurial partner to be respected, feared, and occasionally with difficulty brought to heel and for a while harnessed. When you see, firsthand, wondrous life born around you, from the barn to the woods, and rural underpopulation not overpopulation is an ancient worry, abortion is not just a moral crime, but a tragic loss of a precious resource, a needed voice, another ally in an eternal struggle.
From that autonomy or autarchy came a distrust of larger government redistribution and dependence on anonymous others. Self-sufficiency was an impossible luxury for dependent city-dwellers in a dense Athens, Constantinople, Rome, Paris, Venice, or London, whose sophistication, talents, and scientific knowledge came at the cost of being entirely reliant on the extramural activities of those with less impressive speech, appearance, and manners.
For the ancients, living in the same place as one’s parents was not proof of parochial mediocrity (although Jefferson thought that a farm was a refuge from failure elsewhere), but an obligation to allow the next in line to have the same chance to live apart from the city. And indeed, even in our increasingly urbanized world, the lessons of vestigial agrarianism still can echo and permeate our society in the most unexpected ways.
In our time, savior-designate candidate Michael Bloomberg blew $1 billion without winning one delegate. He poured $100 million into Florida and Ohio to see both states go for Trump far more easily this year than in 2016.
Bloomberg could ridiculously lecture an audience of Oxford sophisticates that farming was just a simplistic matter of dropping a seed in the ground and watching it sprout automatically (“You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn”) — without being laughed out of the lecture hall as a dunce. Imagine if a farmer had said of stocks, “You just make a call, place your buy, and up comes the dividend.”
In other words, Bloomberg was a man unaware of his own limitations.The ability to navigate Wall Street, or the financial markets of communist China, or A-list dinners, or the New York–Washington media, or to be courted by Aspen and Davos did not mean that he had any appreciation for the tenuousness of his own existence, that all his billions could not guarantee him water, food, or sewage removal during a COVID lockdown, or that in extremis he could secure his family without the NYPD. Had Bloomberg in 2010 just taken care of the snow first, and fatty foods and super-sized drinks second, he might have avoided the disastrous effects of the blizzard that paralyzed New York.
We can see this incidental dichotomy between pragmatism and accepted authority almost everywhere today. In the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, crusty old farmer emeritus Chuck Grassley drew on common sense and a knowledge of human nature; urban sophisticate Dianne Feinstein, on ideology and current fad. Missouri’s Josh Hawley recently sliced and diced the masters of the Silicon Valley Universe, because he was able to reduce all their arguments from authority and esoterica about social media into the pragmatic: These billionaire modulators of influence had no defense of their own power to adjudicate the free expression of millions of Americans. Read dairy farmer Devin Nunes’s final memo concerning the Russian collusion hoax and compare it to that of his counterpart Adam Schiff. The former is blunt, truthful, and logical; the latter rhetoric is a dishonest mess masquerading as an exposé.
In other words, there is still much value in vestigial Americans countering the increasing legions of apartment-living, densely packed, and mass-transit-community urban dwellers, as we saw during the COVID epidemic and subsequent quarantine. A Governor Noem of South Dakota, despite a media hit campaign, radiated steady and consistent confidence in her own people, Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio were a maze of contradictions and policy incoherence, as their yesterday’s gospel became tomorrow’s heresy.
A balance between real and urban, Homo rusticus and urbanus is, of course, needed. But in our currently globalized and bifurcated society, the influence and power of our coasts have vastly overshadowed those of the interior. We have measured worth by money, credentials, and titles and inordinately been awed by the veneer of cosmopolitanism that surrounds them. Losers never learned to code, winners thought mere coding was quaint. Welding and plumbing were drudgery; a barista with $100,000 in debt from her women’s-studies major was considered the next angry Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Few pondered whether a good welder might make a far better congressman than an indebted sociology graduate, angry that the world had not appreciated his singular college-branded degree.
So much of the absurdity of the modern world relates to a culture entirely divorced from the commonsense audits of 2,500 years of rural pragmatism. Antifa is the ultimate expression of tens of thousands of urban youth, many deeply in college debt, many with degrees but little learning — and oblivious of how they are completely dependent on what they despise, from the police to those who truck in their food and take out their waste, to those who make and sell them their riot appurtenances and communications gadgetry.
Listen to the automaton Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey masquerading as a bewildered Robinson Crusoe, and one shudders that elites like these massage what millions think and how we communicate. The current fear is not just that America is becoming an urbanized and suburbanized nation — in the manner that many of the Founders feared would make our nation a European replicant. 
Rather, what is strange is that so many who are not rural are becoming fearful of their cannibalistic own, and what they have in store for the suburbs and cities — and thus are becoming desperate either to graft the values of the countryside onto the urban sprawl or leave the latter altogether.


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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