Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Redefining the Political Divide in America

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to catch part of a radio program that featured New York Times columnist Gail Collins discussing her new book, As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda. While I haven't read the book, one of the themes that she talked about was a divide between the crowded places and the empty places. Quoting from another piece from her on the topic,
Our biggest political division is the war between the empty places and the crowded places.

It's natural. People who live in crowded places tend to appreciate government. It's the thing that sets boundaries on public behavior, protects them from burglars and cleans the streets. If anything, they'd like it to do more. (That pothole's been there for a year!) The people who live in empty places don't see the point. If a burglar decides to break in, that's what they've got guns for. Other folks don't get in their way because their way is really, really remote. Who needs government? It just makes trouble and costs money.
I think it's a great summary concept. As she noted in the program, while most of us would be hard pressed to find find a truly empty place, the right uses this as a thematic ideal for selling. The myth of the empty space. Like slender in fashion. Or youth. Adventurer. Wealthy playboy. An aspirational ideal that we connect with on a thematic level. Definitely worth reflecting on.

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