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There appears to be a growing geographic polarization between conservatives and radicals. Conservatives (those of us who largely favor maintaining the status quo, or what was until recently the status quo) are increasingly represented by rural populations; radicals (those who are eager to replace the status quo with something new and quite different) are increasingly concentrated in our urban and near urban areas.
A glance at the familiar 2016 votes-by-county map of the United States makes that division stark and obvious.
So here’s a thought. If we assume that conservatives are expressing, in their voting, a general contentment with the way things are and a desire that those things not change significantly, and if we assume that radicals are expressing a general discontent with the way things are and a desire for substantial and rapid change, then it’s hard not to conclude that the folks who live in cities are less happy with their lives than are their country cousins.
If that’s the case (and I admit that there are other possible explanations, though this one seems reasonably parsimonious), then it seems one of two things is likely true: (1) unhappy people are drawn to cities and happy people are drawn to the country; or (2) living in cities makes people unhappy, whereas living in the country makes people happy.
I’m not aware of any recent national migration that would explain why folks who are blue (ahem) might have accumulated in our cities, and so I’m leaning toward the idea that living in big cities makes people sad — this despite the perplexing fact that people who live in big cities seem to feel sorry for people who don’t.
[ Disclaimer: I’ve done both, owned a very rural farm and lived in biggish cities (Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, Tucson, a few others). I’m a city person at heart… but a happy one. ]Published in