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The Urban-Rural Moral Divide
The culture war is really about the old issue of small town versus the city, except now it's really gotten nasty.
By Ed Knudson
When I was in college I was invited for a weekend to a friend's home who lived in a small town in Minnesota. One night at a party of his friends I was asked where I was from. I said "Minneapolis". I then received a response that surprised me, "I hope you don't look down on us small town folks." Reference was made to the fact that I must be pretty sophisticated since I came from a city. The response surprised me because I had no sense at all that I was better than them because I came from a city. But over the years I have had many experiences like this. Small town folks tend to have a negative view of themselves in relation to city folks.
But this emotional orientation has now turned in a major moral political divide. The map at the upper right displays the electoral votes of the red and blue states by county. It is easy to see that it is people in the cities who voted for John Kerry and people in rural areas who voted for George W. Bush. It's not just a matter of red and blue states, it's a matter of rural areas over against urban areas. The culture war is not just about religious values as if these can be abstracted from place. No, the culture wars over morality and religion are a continuation of the old perceived differences between small towns and cities.
As Democrats reflect on the recent election it would be well to keep this in mind. One of the reactions has been for Democrats in cities to angrily dismiss rural voters. This is reflected in a recent feature article in The Stranger, an alternative and rather irreverent weekly newspaper in Seattle, in an article called The Urban Archipelago: It's the Cities, Stupid.
At this website we will be thinking about what the rural-urban divide may mean for political strategy in the future.
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