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Urban vs. Rural: Are They Really that Different?

October 22, 2016

Short answer: Yes, they really are that different.

I read a post on Bayou Renaissance Man’s blog, entitled “Cities, what they do to people, and the 2016 elections.” I recommend it. It sparked some more thoughts about a topic I’ve been considering a lot, lately. To wit, the effect of cities on the cultural and political changes in the US and the differences between the views of people living in more and less densely populated areas.

I try, on a fairly regular basis, to spend time talking to people – not the easiest thing for a strong introvert to do, but I do try. Often, that is done either face to face, via some service like Skype, or over the phone. Many times, however, that “talking” takes place via text messages, email (so old school, right?) and on social media and other forums. In a lot of those conversations, people from both ends of the political spectrum will suggest cities, including their social programs and the way they vote as a whole, are primarily a reflection of the views, beliefs and attitudes of their residents. This, I have been told, is similar to how smaller towns and rural areas reflect the views of those who live there. There is, I believe, some truth to this. It is certainly true that most people tend to associate with those with whom they have things in common. Still, there is more to the story than “cities reflect the views of the people who live there.”

Bayou Renaissance Man’s post includes both a reference and a link to an article from 2012 in The Atlantic. A takeaway from the article, perhaps the most important takeaway, is summed up in this quote: “The voting data suggest that people don’t make cities liberal — cities make people liberal.” This suggestion, that there is something inherent in cities that tends to produce a liberal point of view, has some serious implications for the United States. If one is of a liberal bent, it’s pretty good news. As urbanization continues, one might reasonably expect the nation to become increasingly liberal. For conservatives, of course, the opposite is true, as it paints an ugly picture of the future, one that has a steady ongoing move toward the left. If the influence of cities is as powerful and profound as the article suggests, it will be harder and harder for each successive generation to resist. It seems that, over time, such a thing would snowball, gaining mass and momentum with each generation and exerting more and more influence over national politics. (NOTE: I’m going to proceed as if the article is largely accurate, though the extent of its accuracy is surely subject to debate)

Even more interesting, and in many ways far more disturbing, are the comments left by many who have read the article. I’d encourage you to read both the article and the comments that follow.

There are some implications, I believe, that need serious consideration by those who don’t view the increasing urbanization of this nation, and some of the accompanying or following changes in views, as a good thing.

  • Regardless of what your political, philosophical or religious beliefs might be, if you’re committed to them and think they’re of benefit to your children, you bear the primary responsibility for passing them on. This is particularly true if your beliefs run counter to those of the prevailing culture. For instance, if you are a conservative, especially one living in a city, you are in a very real sense the only thing standing between your children and a liberal world view.
  • Changing the course of the nation such that it returns to being the constitutional republic it was designed to be is going to require an understanding of some unpleasant realities and a commitment to long-term effort.
  • The Republic may already be lost.*

Many of us who view personal liberty and limited government as good things are faced with a dilemma. Of course we desire to be free. We also need to house, clothe and feed ourselves and our families. To do that, we must typically go to where the jobs are – and the jobs are frequently in cities. In moving to where the jobs are, we go to the very sorts of places we would presumably like to avoid – places that arguably have less personal liberty and more governmental involvement in the lives of people (not to mention more people per unit of area). So, what are we to do? As I’ve mentioned or alluded to before (here, herehere and here), my wife and I are building, slowly, our version of an urban homestead. We both have jobs that require us to be in an area of relatively dense population (I say “relatively” because even here in Texas there are towns and cities that are far more densely populated). As much as we might like to live in a more remote or even isolated area, it simply isn’t practical right now. Instead, we are doing what we view as the next best thing. We’re homesteading as much as we can where we are now – a sort of “bloom where you’re planted” approach, I suppose. Admittedly, we’re in a place where government interferes with our lives less than it does in many other places (though still more than I like many times), but the point is that we’re doing all we can right now to be independent, right now. Hopefully we’ll be able to change our location to somewhere more remote, less populated (and cooler) than where we are, currently. If you are in a similar situation, it’s something to consider as both a way of minimizing your dependence on government, a way of preparing for the life you might want in the future and perhaps even a kind of resistance. One of my sons put it this way in a text to me:

“We want independence. That means a community not wholly reliant on help from government and outside groups…”

“I think where groups like the Bundy’s and a lot of III types get it wrong is the all-consuming emphasis on defense. Defense is important (maybe more important now that it has ever been), but for Liberty to thrive and grow, we have to be more. We have to promote independence everywhere; not merely from a police state or enemy invasion, but at every level. If government realizes that people don’t rely on them, there is little they can do to force anything. And, independent people spread EVERYWHERE. It’s like an antibody against tyranny. Where people are self-reliant, tyranny cannot exist, much less thrive.”

I don’t really know how accurate the Atlantic article is. I think there is some truth to it, I just don’t know how much. I do know this: if we are to be free, if we are to reclaim our nation as a nation of freedom and limited government, we must work where we are. When our friends ask why we have so much food in our pantry, we don’t have to tell them everything we know or believe about government, freedom and tyranny. We can simply say that we know unfortunate things can happen. Depending on where you are, those unfortunate events might be a major earthquake, a tornado, hurricane, wildfire or some other natural disaster with the potential to make, in this case, some degree of food independence a good idea. Make that point, then leave it alone. People change their perspective slowly in most cases. We must, I believe, avoid the temptation to tell people everything we know. Aside from its potential to compromise our “OpSec,” to many people it simply makes us look weird. I knew a man in Southern California who earned a significant income as a representative of what I view as one of the few legitimate MLM companies on the planet (note: I don’t represent any MLM company). For people who joined him, he always said the same thing: “Most MLM people act weird. People don’t like weird. If you want to be successful, don’t be weird.” The same is true for those of us who practice some form of preparedness and who want others to join us in our pursuit of freedom. They, like other people, will not respond well if we come across as too weird. So, don’t be weird. Again, make the point and then leave it alone. And please, if you’re talking with your relatively “unaware” friends, family and acquaintances, avoid your favorite tinfoil hat talking points (if you have any)!

*Writing that sentence was physically painful. I really hope things are not that way.

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