Thursday, October 09, 2008

Palin's small-town background stirs urban scorn

The vice presidential nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin, a former mayor of Wasilla, Alaaska, "has elicited an outpouring of scorn towards micropolitan and small-town America," Joel Kotkin wrote on New, which says it is "a site devoted to analyzing and discussing the places where we live and work."

Kotkin's only example is "Villiage Idiocy," an article by Jennifer Bradly and Bruce Katz in the Oct. 8 issue of The New Republic, which cited a commentary (no longer available online) by Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal, written in the wake of Barack Obama's comments about small-town voters in Pennsylvania.

"Palin was tapping into a widespread belief that small-town America represents the country at large," Katz and Bradly wrote. "People's longing for small towns is an understandable fantasy. Small towns seem like slower, saner havens in an overly connected, frenetic world, places where a blackberry is an ingredient in jam. But metros, not small towns, are where our economy is, where our population is, and where our country's future is."

Kotkin replied, "Bruce and other compulsive centralizers forget that over one-third of Americans still would like to live in small towns or the countryside – roughly twice as many who want to live in his beloved, high-density cities. Migration patterns show that Americans are moving, on net, more to mid-sized and smaller cities, and within the metropolitan areas, away from the central cities. If the benefits of small town living is a 'fantasy,' it’s a widely shared one." Replying to a comment from a reader who clearly dislikes small towns, Kotkin said he feared that the "deeply centralist instinct ... is likely to ascend now, particularly with an Obama victory." (Read more)

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