Thursday, June 28, 2018

Column: Why do we value rural folk more than city people?

Urbanization plays a major role in partisan sentiment, now more than ever, but "such a clean partisan break along density lines has thrown our democracy into a crisis of legitimacy and dysfunction," Will Wilkinson writes in an opinion piece for The New York Times. Wilkinson is the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning think tank.

He says the problem is that our system of allocating democratic representatives, especially U.S. senators, gives rural — and therefore, now mostly Republican — voters an advantage. The genesis of this system hails back to the 1780s, and was an effort to balance power between free and slave regions. But in a country where metropolitan areas have most of the people and wealth, such a system "defies both moral and prudential common sense," Wilkinson writes. "America’s outdated system of representation allowed Donald Trump and the party of the monocultural country to seize total control of the state with a minority of votes and about 36 percent of the economy."

Wilkinson writes an essay bound to be unpopular with many rural readers, but it's full of thoughtful points and is a good read. Among his better points is that, with Donald Trump as president, "The issue is not only that people in cities are getting hurt; it’s also that city people are mindful of the interests of marginalized populations outside cities — at the border or in remote state prisons — and would protect them if cities weren’t democratically underrepresented." Read more here.

No comments: