…la plus c’est la meme chose.
Victor Davis Hansen reinforces this for us.
How a lifelong New Yorker became tribune of the rustics and deplorables
By Victor Davis Hanson, City Journal
I hadn’t just left one part of America to visit another, it seemed, but instead blasted off from one solar system to enter another cosmos, light-years distant. And to make the contrast even more radical, the man in the truck in Fresno County was Mexican-American and said that he was voting for Trump, while the two in Palo Alto were white, clearly affluent—and seemed enthused about Hillary Clinton’s sure win to come.
The postelection map of Republican and Democratic counties mirrored my geographical disconnect. The Donald Trump nation of conservative red spanned the country, to within a few miles of the two coasts, covering 85 percent of the nation’s land area. Yet Clinton won the popular vote, drawing most of her support in razor-thin, densely populated blue ribbons up and down the East and West Coast corridors and in the Great Lakes nexus. As disgruntled liberal commentator Henry Grabar summed up the election result: “We now have a rural party and an urban party. The rural party won.” This time around, anyway.
Hanson, and others who have thin walled bubbles, can see and appreciate both sides of this divide. Indeed, research mentioned here on this blog has strongly suggested that conservatives, as a rule, have a better understanding of progressive arguments and postions than vice versa.
Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win.
As alluded in my headline, this is far from a recent phenomenon.
s there something about the land itself that promotes conservatism? The answer is as old as Western civilization. For the classical Greeks, the asteios (“astute”; astu: city) was the sophisticated “city-like” man, while the agroikos (“agrarian”; agros: farm/field) was synonymous with roughness. And yet there was ambiguity as well in the Greek city/country dichotomy: city folk were also laughed at in the comedies of Aristophanes as too impractical and too clever for their own good, while the unpolished often displayed a more grounded sensibility. In the Roman world, the urbanus (“urbane”; urbs: city) was sometimes too sophisticated, while the rusticus (“rustic”; rus: countryside) was often balanced and pragmatic.
Country people in the Western tradition lived in a shame culture. Family reputation hinged on close-knit assessments of personal behavior only possible in small communities of the like-minded and tribal. The rural ethos could not afford radical changes in lifestyles when the narrow margins of farming safety rested on what had worked in the past. By contrast, self-reinvention and social experimentation were possible only in large cities of anonymous souls and varieties of income and enrichment. Rural people, that is, don’t honor tradition and habit because they’re somehow better human beings than their urban counterparts; a face-to-face, rooted society offers practical reinforcement for doing so.
In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity.
Here I’ll disagree a bit with the professor. “Stronger Together” positively reeked of socialist sensibilities.
Golden Ages recognize both the differences and the relative strengths of both the urban and the rustic. A society that develops too much separation between the two (or too thick of bubbles), and which fails to recognize the relative worth of each, is a house divided.