What if the polarization of American politics and increase of right-wing populism in the Republican Occasion are a functionality of rural pieces of the nation turning out to be additional like the historic South?
That is the stunning suggestion of Will Wilkinson in a fruitfully provocative Substack publish. Wilkinson is something of an professional on the subject matter, having done crucial empirical perform on the position of inhabitants density in driving political polarization and populist backlash. His argument, in sum: Polarization and populism are induced by urbanization and its financial, social, and political effects, with cities rising demographically and economically, and becoming much more progressive, about time, when depopulating rural spots succumb to economic decline and zero-sum, reactionary politics.
In his latest post, Wilkinson just extends this research a number of measures by observing both of those an raising cultural homogenization throughout distinctive rural locations, every single of which applied to be more exclusive, and the expanding prevalence of Accomplice flags considerably outside of the historic South, in the rural regions of northern states and states that failed to even exist at the time of the Civil War.
So much, these are just anecdotes, but if verified by extra arduous study they could place towards something true and crucial: Not just escalating ideological unification across the rural areas of the nation, but the drift of that ideology in the course of the Confederacy. The place is not that the American countryside more and more needs to avenge the honor of Southern slaveowners for their reduction in a war that ended around a century and a half ago. Rather, the folks who are living in these spots share with the historic South an rigorous distrust of the federal federal government, veneration of regional regulation enforcement, resentment of metropolis people, suspicion of minorities and foreigners, hostility to technologically pushed alter, and a eager sensitivity to cultural slights.
Those are the senses in which we may perhaps be residing through what Wilkinson calls the “Southernification of rural The usa.”
Wilkinson himself leaves unanswered both equally how and why this may possibly be occurring. On the question of how, I would search at social media and its outstanding potential to forge ideological solidarity across large distances in the actual globe. Wherever prior to the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, an offended resident of rural Maine would have located no political outlet for his rage beyond his individual neighborhood, now he could connection up on line with likeminded residents of rural Mississippi and Oregon, recognizing a comparable set of grievances and arranging a virtual local community all around them.
As for why rising figures are gravitating toward Confederate concepts and iconography, it may possibly be practically nothing a lot more than an illustration of persons grabbing onto what is at hand. The South has long created an abundant source of populist anger and resentment. Perhaps all that has adjusted in our time is that there is now a a lot much larger audience and significantly bigger demand from customers for that toxic political information.