Our driveway, locusts, decrepit shed barn, Fogg Mountain in background. Photo: Karen L. Myers.
Liberals like Chauncy deVega and the editors of The Atlantic are feeling the shift of population and prosperity from preferred-by-the-educated-elite blue states to more rural and conservative red states and don’t like it one bit.
Cobb, in response, takes a shot at explaining why a lot of Americans, even some of the smart and well-educated flavor, much prefer red state backwaters to the fashionable metropolis where one breathes the air of international elite culture and feels every pulsebeat of contemporary fashionable opinion.
Poorer, less educated, less diverse all seem to be horrible deviations from a proper norm, but only in America. Because in the small towns just inside the Indiana border where the well-maintained Ohio roads suddenly get all gravelly, they still make more money than in 5/6ths of the world. They still have 12 years of free education, polio vaccines, orange juice in the winter, and electricity that hasn’t failed in 75 years.
Of course liberalism is shrinking, because the promises it thinks it can make to Americans who cling to Bibles and guns are too expensive and its benefits are so marginal that it finally realizes(?) it will never change all of those minds. There is no more low hanging fruit. There are no more economic rabbits (except in IT industrialization and bioengineering) to pull out of hats. There are already so many chickens in so many pots that the Left has to attack the chicken industry for operating so cheaply.
Somebody wrote of the culture of Japan in the post-tsunami aftermath that of course there was no looting and that everyone cooperated. Japan pulls together into a uniquely cohesive society, but same thing makes it fragile because there are not hundreds of acceptable ways to do the same thing. Japanese make smaller cars and live in smaller houses because they prefer the urban lifestyle that brings millions of them together in the ways they prefer to organize. They like to follow the same rules for everyone, the exact opposite of the American cowboy spirit. 75 years ago there, they all serve an emperor.
America resists totalitarianism because we have the opportunity to get out of Dodge. There’s someplace to go. We can migrate from the South to the North. We can move from East to West. And there are times when we want to be left alone, off the grid, answerable to nobody, off the plantation. It means we have to buy a truck that resists the dents and can go offroad, not a hybrid made for the carpool lane. It means we need to shop at the one Costco in the county once a month, not stroll through the galleria of shops in the CBD. It means we leave our email unanswered, not follow every tweet. It means we try not to follow the fashion of the top 40 as it changes every week, but maybe memorize something our great grandparents would have recognized. It means going downscale, spreading out and being robust and not being affected by the global supply chain that cascades its failures to every Tom, Dick and Harry because your name is Eustace. …
We will never know if red state of mind, independent America is as happy with their disconnected lives as those in the urban liberal cosmopolitan feng shui. But we will always know that riches are limited and that everybody cannot be better educated, richer, and more sophisticated than average. We will always know that the road towards totalitarianism is straight, well-paved and is designed for mass transit.
What is conservatism? It’s a lot of things. But it’s important to understand the limits of centrally standarized, synchronized, culture of singular progress of upward mobility. It always needs the attention and support of the masses, and it fails spectacularly.
Hat tip to Vanderleun.