Rural versus Urban. These days, “us versus them" seems to describe the whole world: Israel versus Gaza, ISIS versus non-Muslims, cops versus African-Americans, Republicans versus Democrats.
When I get really bummed out bv our inability to "just get along," as Rodney King memorably put it, I think back to a wonderful rant published by the editors of The Stranger, an alternative newspaper published in Seattle, in the wake of the 2004 elections. Looking at the red and blue of the election map, they noted that cities were bright blue dots in even the reddest states — an "urban archipelago" with values vastly different from the values of rnral America.
Research confirms their observation: virtually every major city (100,000 plus) in the United States of America has a different political culture from the less populous areas surrounding it.
As New York Times columnist Gail Collins noted a couple of years ago, people living in densely populated urban areas understand the need for government — paved roads and public safety and garbage collection. That farmer out at the end of the gravel road who rarely gets a visitor (and isn’t worth the effort of the burglar), doesn’t see much reason to pay taxes.
Living with other people shapes a certain worldview. It creates an identifiably urban value structure. As the authors of the Urban Archipelago wrote in that seminal essay:
Look around you, urbanite, at the multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, and tribes that are smashed together in every urban center...: We’re for that. We’re for pluralism of thought, race, and identity. We’re for a freedom of religion that includes the freedom from religion-not as some crazy aberration, but as an equally valid approach to life. We are for the right to choose one's own sexual and recreational behavior, to control one’s own body and what one puts inside it.
We are for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
Unlike the people who flee from cities in search of a life free from disagreement and dark skin, we are for contentiousness, discourse, and the heightened understanding of life that grows from having to accommodate opposing viewpoints. We’re for opposition.... Republicans have succeeded in making the word "liberal”- which literally means “free from bigotry... favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded”- into an epithet....