06 September 2008

The Politics of the Demographics of America

The Inverse Square Blog (one of the best blogs out there talking about science and politics) has a post about the claims of conservatives that small towns are the quote unquote "Real Americans."
Total time to find this — a quick tour through the links offered up by Wikipedia’s list of US urban areas, maybe a couple of minutes, followed by ten minutes with the calculator.

Now dig just a little deeper, and it turns out that the Census folks very kindly have come up with a list of all US urbanized areas — these are the cores of 50,000 folks at a minimum, around which many more people may be living what is classified as a metro area. Now these are the places that are ten times the size, more or less, of Governor Palin’s Wasilla, pop. five thousand seven hundred and change as of her last year as mayor.

I actually went into the list and added the whole damn thing up, rounding off the hundreds. The total: 195,177,500…or two thirds of the US population. I haven’t got that last piece of the data to round it out, but the figures so far are pretty clear: more than two out of three, and approaching nine out of ten Americans live in settings that are very different, qualitatively so, from the little town that elite bubbleheads assert are typical.
(Emphasis mine.)

So nearly two-thirds of us live in urban conglomerations of 50,000 people or more. I did a quick look-see on Wikipedia yesterday and found that about eighty million of us live in cities of 100,000 or more. Small-town America just isn't where most people live anymore, and hasn't been for a long time.

Now, I'd be the last person to make the opposite claim that only those of us who live in urban areas are Real Americans. But it's not my own ideological brethren who are making that claim -- it's Republicans who get so much mileage out of talking about the fancy-pants elitists who live in cities. That's really the difference between the two parties: Republicans want to appeal to those who either live in small towns or want to pretend they do, and demonize the rest of the country as evil people whose values aren't in line with Real Americans, whereas Democrats really do want to govern from the middle and make life better for everyone, regardless of who you vote for or what size city you live in.

November 4 seems a long way away right now....

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