This morning I was listening to an interview with Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. A few hours earlier, I had been reading the Washington Post online, skimming reader comments on the Detroit automaker mess. There, online, were prime examples of The Big Sort and the results of political isolationism.
"Progressives" seem to truly believe that Republicans "hate the working class." Not just some Republicans, but every Republican. Of course, this is absurd, since many Republicans -- including political leaders -- come from the working class. In fact, Bishop pointed out during today's interview that Republicans are overwhelmingly middle class while the "progressive" wing of the Democratic party tends to be richer, better educated... and isolated.
In some ways, this isolation is unavoidable. Academics must live near universities. Universities tend to be located in urban centers. These urban centers don't quite relate to the more rural or exurban areas of America. The creative class moves to be near these intellectual centers. The "left-leaning" areas become increasingly rigid and polarized.
Having left the exurbs and rural areas, the progressives leave behind a more conservative, traditional, and working class community. Population densities are declining in these areas. At least for now, so is the political influence of these vast, less populated regions.
Being moderate, even "classically conservative," means I feel isolated living in a city. My ideas are insulted. The values of my family are insulted. Anyone not progressive enough must be an idiot. This means that to the isolated, self-righteous leftist, Republicans are either uneducated hicks or greedy businessmen (never women) exploiting the less educated.
The angry comments on the Washington Post pages indicate the left believes in a conspiracy theory. The right is taking over the world. It's all about global corporations. Republicans are "rethugs" and "cons" among other names. No one could possibly believe in capitalism, traditional liberalism, or individualism. Anyone claiming to believe in classical liberalism, free market conservatism, must be lying.
How can anyone blame the government for the current financial mess? (Which I do, of course.) Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae? Blaming these government chartered agencies seems so unfair. It's business that ruined the economy!
Of course, that so many "progressives" are rich business people doesn't seem to register with the left. They're different.
People really need to have more friends from across the political spectrum. It might help see how alike we really are. Not likely to happen, though. I know I want to move to somewhere rural... away from the leftists. Sadly, I'm sorting myself.