Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Rural life typically leads to independence, leading to conservatism, political commentator says

The difference between rural and urban America is that rural residents are more likely to be independent, leading them toward conservatism, while urban residents are more likely to rely on state and federal programs, leading them to be more liberal, opines Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Victor Davis Hanson
"Rural living historically has encouraged independence, and it still does, even in the globalized and wired 21st century," Hanson writes. "Autonomy and autarky, not narrow specialization, are necessary and are fueled by an understanding that tools must be mastered to keep nature in its proper place. Such constant preparedness nurtures skeptical views about the role and size of government, in which the good citizen is defined as someone who can take care of herself."

The differences between rural and urban life "wouldn't matter so much if it weren't for the fact that the nation's urbanites increasingly govern those living in the hinterlands, even as vanishing rural Americans still feed and fuel the nation," Hanson writes. "The elite that runs the country in politics, finance, journalism and academia is urban to the core: degrees from brand-name universities, internships at well-connected agencies, residence in New York or Washington, power marriages. The power resume does not include mechanical apprenticeships, work on ships or oil rigs, knowledge of firearms or farm, logging or mining labor—jobs now regulated and overseen by those with little experience of them."

"The founders and early observers of American democracy, from Thomas Jefferson to Alexis de Tocqueville, reflected a classical symbiosis, in which even urban thinkers praised the benefits of life in rural areas," Hanson writes. "Jefferson famously wrote: 'I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.'"

"Rural folks didn't romanticize the city but rather, like characters in Horace's 'Satires' or the rustic mouse of 'Aesop's Fables' saw it as a necessary evil," Hanson writes. "Yet urbanites idealized the farm—if certainly from a safe distance. The 21st century may at last see the end of a venerable consensus that rural citizens prizing liberty and freedom provide a necessary audit on the dependent urbanites. We have left for good the world of Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and entered the age of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump—and likely with worse to come." (Read more)

1 comment:

Glenn Muske said...

Interesting thoughts but some insight is missing. First, rural depends a great deal on state and federal programs. Start with the farm bill, the rural electric coops, the roads and bridges and the list goes on. Second you mention that rural is the place that brings us food and fuel. Yes, but typically in raw commodity form. Urban is where is more often is turned into finished goods and food. So it takes both. And just for clarification, I live in a rural state, grew up on a farm, and still own the farm land.