Yesterday I wrote an article titled 'Cities, what they do to people, and the 2016 elections'. I pointed out that the election would be won in the cities, where voters are concentrated, and where they think differently from rural and town-dwellers.
I'd like to follow that up with some cogent thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson.
But what, exactly, causes city and country people to become so opposite politically, culturally, and socially?
Rural living historically has encouraged independence—and it still does, even in the globalized and wired twenty-first century. Other people aren’t always around to ensure that water gets delivered (and drained), sewage disappears, and snow is removed. For the vast majority of Americans, these and other concerns are the jobs of government bureaucracy and its unionized public workforce. Not so in rural areas, where autonomy and autarky—not narrow specialization—are necessary and fueled by an understanding that machines and tools must be mastered to keep nature in its proper place. Such constant preparedness nurtures skeptical views about the role and size of government, in which the good citizen is defined as someone who can take care of himself.
Note how the urban ideal tends to be just the opposite. Looking to cement his lead among urban unmarried women during his 2012 reelection campaign, Barack Obama ran an interactive web ad, “The Life of Julia.” Its dependency narrative defined the life of an everywoman character as one of cradle-to-grave government reliance—a desirable thing. Julia is proudly and perennially a ward of the state. She can get through school only thanks to Head Start and federally backed student loans. Only the Small Business Administration and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act enable her to find work. Though unmarried, Julia has one child—but no health-care worries, thanks to Obamacare. And in her retirement years, only Social Security and Medicare allow her security, comfort, and the time and wherewithal to volunteer for a communal urban garden, apparently a hobby rather than a critical food source. The subtext of Obama’s message was the assumption of a demographically shrinking, urbanized country, where liberated women find parity only through government dependence. The president was not appealing, as some of his predecessors did, to a confident young married woman who, along with her husband, was struggling to make a family business in farm equipment while raising four kids and saving to build a ranch house on three acres.
. . .
Most current hot-button social and political issues—deficit spending, defense, gay marriage, transgendered restrooms, amnesty, sanctuary cities, affirmative action, gun control, and abortion—break along rural or urban lines. For rural residents, existential issues on the national level are seen in the same way as personal, physical considerations: Will the country go broke? Is its currency any good? Does it have enough food, fuel, and minerals? Can America defend itself, protect its friends, and punish its enemies?
These concerns differ markedly from the urbanite’s worry about whether the government will provide services to take care of apartment dwellers or whether those of different races, tribes, and religions can get along in such a crowded environment.
. . .
Simply put, too many urban Americans have lots of time on their hands—and in this regard, the deterioration in race relations is largely a city phenomenon. The rural dweller looks at the nocturnal marching and chanting of Black Lives Matter and wonders, “Do the protesters have to be up at 5 AM to get things going?” Nothing is stranger than watching or listening to elite urban white journalists and academics confessing their white privilege to fellow black elites and equally privileged intellectuals—while both groups seem oblivious to class distinctions or to rural white poverty. Does a Cornel West or Chris Rock go to Appalachia or Bakersfield to lecture the white mechanic on why he has it made because of his white skin?
The cursus honorum of the elite that runs the country in politics, finance, journalism, and academia is urban to the core—degrees from brand-name universities, internships at well-connected agencies, residence in New York or Washington, power marriages. The power résumé does not include mechanical apprenticeships, work on ships or oil rigs, knowledge of firearms, or farm, logging, or mining labor—jobs now regulated and overseen by those with little experience of them.
There's much more at the link. It's well worth reading in full.
The mainstream media, in defining the terms of the current political debate, are minimizing the importance of issues that are critical to non-city-dwellers.
- Illegal immigration? Trump caught a lot of people's attention with his talk of a wall along the southern border. It's critically important to the ranchers living along that border, who daily go in fear of the veritable invasion of criminals and ne'er-do-wells that threatens to overwhelm them. However, it's of no importance to the urban establishment - so the media largely ignores it (or mocks the very idea).
- Military service? According to the Washington Post, in 2005 more than 44% of recruits came from rural areas, but only about 14% from major cities. More recent research seems to indicate little change in this pattern. The self-reliant, more independent outlook on life found in rural and small-town America seems to fit the mold of service to others, even at risk of one's own life, much better than the self-centered, cocooned lifestyle of the cities. Is this why the mainstream media often portray military personnel, particularly veterans, in a negative light?
- Qualifications? Look at the breakdown of our present Congress and Senate. The overwhelmingly dominant qualification or prior career of our political representatives is that of lawyer. Career politicians and former government employees are also right up there in the lists. These are urban, not rural occupations. These are people who've mostly never actually produced anything by the work of their hands or the sweat of their brows. Most of them would probably regard manual laborers as their inferiors. How many engineers, technicians, farmers, former military and the like do you see in the ranks of our representatives? Precious few. The preoccupations of the mainstream media (and the ranks of its journalists) reflect that disproportionate imbalance.
All this is inevitably shaping and forming the current political debate. It makes Donald Trump's task much more difficult, while making that of Hillary Clinton much easier. Increasingly, it's clear that the results of this election will depend very much on turnout. If Donald Trump can persuade a large majority of his supporters to vote, but Hillary Clinton can't get many of hers to the polls, this will help to level the playing field. However, if the situation is reversed, Trump's prospects plummet.
This is where the mainstream media's tactics may backfire on it. It's clear the media want to persuade the American electorate that the election's all but decided already. See, for example, this morning's Washington Post screed. It's designed to encourage Clinton's supporters and discourage Trump's. If the latter can be persuaded not to bother to vote, because there's no point, it makes Clinton's path to victory much easier. However, what if Clinton's supporters conclude that since she's certain to win, they don't need to bother to vote? And what if Trump can mobilize his supporters to ignore the media propaganda, get to the polls in large numbers, and vote for him?
I remain convinced that if Clinton wins, this Republic cannot survive in its present form. She and her urban elite supporters have already all but trashed our Constitution, blatantly selling themselves and their public offices to the highest bidder. If they win again, they'll trample underfoot what remains of our nation. We'll be swamped by illegal aliens, many of whom will vote (illegally or not) for the party that promises them the biggest handouts. If our Republic and Constitution are to be preserved, I fear this election may be the final opportunity to do so via the ballot box.