Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rural-urban political divide grows among rural families and their educated relatives in cities

A rural-urban political divide has grown, spurred by people who left working-class rural communities to get a college education and work in urban centers, Sabrina Tavernise and Katharine Seelye report for The New York Times. While their friends and family back home are conservatives who support Donald Trump, they are more liberal and turned their support to Hillary Clinton, with the testy election driving a wedge in family relationships.

One example is Misty Bastian, who grew up in rural Tennessee, has a Ph.D. and works at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. "She said that she had sensed a 'parting of the political ways' from her family for a long time, but that her support for Hillary Clinton seemed to be 'the last nail in the coffin'," Tavernise and Seelye report.

Bastian said she has continued to visit home since joining the Air Force in the 1970s but has no desire to return to her rural roots. She told the Times, “I don’t want to be part of the grand narrative that the ‘liberal elite’ doesn’t get the working class. I am from the working class. I’m now pretty solidly middle class. But to my relatives, I’m elite, over-educated and too well-read: an alien.”

Colin Woodard, author of American Nations, a history and geography of cultural divides in the U.S. "says that 'we are seeing a profound disagreement about what kind of America we should be creating,'" Tavernise and Seelye write. "Some believe society should be organized with an emphasis on individual rights, he said, while others feel the focus should be on maintaining the common good, which requires checks on individuals. Many feel the multiculturalism so prized by liberals has made their communities harder to understand and identify with."

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