Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Real America"

With the growing antagonism from the right against the "elites" who don't know "Real America," generally defined as white, small-town, and religious, I thought I would offer a reality check:

Where do most Americans live, and where will the next 100 million live? In metropolitan areas. Currently, eighty-three percent of Americans live in the country's 361 metropolitan areas, as defined by the US Census. Another six percent live in "exurbia" outside these metropolitan areas and rely on their closest metro area for their livelihood. These percentages are projected to increase, continuing a 200-year trend. (Source: Christopher Leinberger, The Option of Urbanism)

Maybe the last 11% of Americans that still live in small-town America should get with the picture and join Real America, that is, urban America. There's something quintessentially conservative about defining Real America as something that has been on terminal decline for centuries.


  1. I don't think this is what Murray had in mind, but I do think there is something of a divide between the coasts versus the middle of the country/the south in terms of how people think of themselves as Americans. (I don't suppose I need to tell you this, seeing as how you live in the Twin Cities.)

    It's not purely a liberal/conservative divide, and certainly big Midwestern city-folk have more in common with New Yorkers, say, than they do with rural Californians. But at least my experience of 7 years in the Midwest was that the notion of "Midwestern values" was not purely mythical.

  2. I agree that there's a cultural difference between people on the coasts and in the Midwest, but it cuts across the lines that Murray draws. For example, an urbanite from Chicago is a bit different from an urbanite that grew up in NYC or Boston. And someone who grew up in the Twin Cities would be different from both (they're nicer).

    It's a separate issue from big town small town. And my point was that small-town "real America" is largely a myth. Hell, look at Minnesota, its the suburbs that are red, the urban AND rural areas are blue. Yes, we're weird up here.