Moving Out and Not Coming Back

NATIONAL REVIEW

On the menu today: The possibility of another wave of Americans moving out of the big cities, the likelihood of some future pandemic further down the road, and how the Red America–Blue America divide is likely to be altered when we emerge from this crisis. Yesterday on my work Facebook page, a reader asked, “Why is it that the places Covid-19 show up the most are in Democrat controlled areas?” As much as I’d like to believe that all the troubles in the world can eventually be traced back to Bill de Blasio, I responded, “Probably because ‘the places it shows up the most’ are large densely-packed cities with a lot of international and domestic air travel and high use of mass transit, where Democrats have been winning elections more than Republicans for at least a generation and in many cases several generations.” You can split red and blue America in a lot of ways — race, age, religiosity — but arguably the strongest factor is geography. The “Big Sort” that Bill Bishop described has been at work for two decades. Sure, there are conservatives and Republicans who live in big cities and inner-ring suburbs, just rarely in the numbers that could make a difference. And there are progressives and Democrats who live in rural areas and exurbs, but again, rarely in the numbers that could make a difference in elections. Kevin Williamson has noted that conservatives often don’t even try to persuade city-dwellers of the value of their ideas, and lapse into a casual to overt contempt of life in the big city. Meanwhile, it is not hard to find examples of urban progressives looking at rural America with a combination of contempt, disdain, pity, smug superiority . . . heck, it’s not hard to find urban progressives who see suburbanites as somehow inferior and worthy of scorn, never mind residents of small-town America.

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