Palin's Small-Town Snobbery

Why it's time to bury the myth of rural virtue

Americans disdain snobbery in all its forms except the most popular one: reverse snobbery. Joe Biden would never get up in front of a crowd and suggest that the citizens of Manhattan are morally superior to the residents of Possum Gulch, Ark. But Sarah Palin was happy to tell the Republican National Convention that the very best people come from the country.

"We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity and dignity," she declared, quoting the late journalist Westbrook Pegler. "They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America." Not like those idle, insincere, lying city folks who dare to suggest that America can sometimes be wrong.

But no one seemed to take offense. The myth of rural virtue and urban vice is an old one in this country, and it persists no matter what the changes in the landscape. And whatever questions Palin may face in her debate with Biden, her paeans to small-town virtue aren't likely to be among them.

Most Americans, it seems, can tolerate hearing of the superiority of the small town, as long as they don't have to live in one. You wouldn't know it from listening to country music stations, or to the governor of Alaska, but four out of every five Americans choose not to reside in rural areas.

Maybe if they ventured beyond the city limits more often, those people would not be so inclined to believe everything they hear about the merits of rustic hamlets, which harbor a full complement of social ills.

Not everyone in rural America gets high on fresh air and the smell of new-mown hay. Illicit drugs are nearly as common out there as they are in cities and suburbs.

In 2007, a survey of 8th graders by the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan found that country kids were 26 percent more likely to experiment with drugs than middle-schoolers elsewhere. Overall methamphetamine consumption among adults and teens is more than 50 percent higher in the country.

The story with alcohol is worse still. "Relative to their urban counterparts, rural youth ages 12 to 17 are significantly more likely to report consuming alcohol," says a 2006 study by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Excessive boozing among adults, it noted, appears to be no less widespread in Mayberry than in Metropolis.

Nor is the countryside exempt from social problems often associated with the inner city—such as, if you'll forgive me, out-of-wedlock births. The federal government apparently doesn't tabulate these births according to whether they occur in urban or rural areas. But it does break them down by state, and wide-open spaces are no guarantee of responsible sexual behavior.

The highest rates of births to unwed mothers are in Mississippi and New Mexico, both of which have high rural populations. The most urban states, New Jersey and California, do better than the average in out-of-wedlock births.

It's true that crime is much more common in the city than in the country. Is that because the sight of cattle grazing saps felonious impulses, or is it something else? Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University, thinks the explanation is pretty simple. "It's a matter of social control," he says. "Small towns have networks of family and friends, and most everyone knows everyone else."

This deters crime in two ways. First, you don't want to damage your reputation among people who may ostracize you for doing wrong. Second, you don't want to rob someone who can easily identify you to police—and in a small town, that limits your pool of victims. Crime is more common in cities because they offer a target-rich environment and much less chance of being spotted by someone who can tell the cops your name, address and 3rd-grade teacher.

One of these days, the 80 percent of Americans who live in more populated areas may tire of being obliquely insulted. Most urbanites and suburbanites don't think they're any better than their country cousins. But Palin might want to think twice before telling them they're worse.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • Untermensch||

    To be fair to Palin, under the accepted definitions of rural and urban used in the U.S., the places she was talking about are considered "urban", so bringing up statistics about rural areas vs. urban areas is getting at a divide different than the one she meant. Yes, it may be reverse snobbery to say what she said, but the kinds of places she's talking about would, for the most part, be counted as urban in everything Chapman cites. None of the quotes given provide the context to determine what basis they used to make the determination, so I can only assume that they are using census bureau guidelines, which would classify most towns with a population over 2500 ("small towns" in my book) as urban. Alternatively, if any of the studies were using the USDA definition, the bit about working in factories in Palin's statement (implying commuting) would make them "urban" (because of the high commuter rate).

    So you can talk about the virtues of cities, but be aware that the people included in that group for study purposes include the people she's talking about...

    Of course, if the studies you cite have a specific definition of rural or urban that would support the distinction you're making, please say so. Otherwise this looks like some cherry picking of statistics with a fault correlation to her statement to trash her and/or make a broader point. Exactly the sort of thing Reason writers would go after, say, an enviro fundamentalist or a Naomi Klein for doing.

    For more information on the ways of classifying rural vs. urban, this Wikipedia article is a decent summary.

    Finally, I agree with the larger point you are making, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with the faulty methodology used to make it...

  • ed||

    Politicians aren't actually human, so what they say and do cannot be judged in human terms. Palin's schtick, if I may, is that she's less of a politician (and therefore more human, more real) because of her small-town upbringing. And Americans do believe in that mythology. That's why she's been given a pass thus far. But she has overdrawn her account with weeks to go till the election. It's a bit late to be learning for the first time what the Supreme Court does.

  • Eric Sundwall||

    Urban dismissal of small town snobbery always out numbers the latter.

  • ||

    Right, right, that's why we saw all those candidates bragging about how the good people come from big cities.

  • ed||

    "City slickers"..."hayseeds"...it all depends on your perspective and personal biases.

  • KT||

    I've never really understood the usefulness of making this point, since as the article points out, this is an overwhelmingly urban and suburban nation. The only way it makes sense to me is as a dog-whistle against the homogays and the blacks.

  • Al Swearingen||

    Who needs big-city cocksuckers like Chapman.

  • ||

    I'm sorry - so the point of this article is that small towns are not better than big cities, and that Palin is a snob because she thinks "some of the" best people come from small towns?

  • mike farmer||

    There are far more important subjects to get upset about than Palin's promotion of small towns. Was she saying big cities are the opposite? I didn't read that, except for the words you put in her mouth.

    I think she is basically defending all the criticisms from the "elite" who discount and ridicule small towns, not saying that small towns are superior. That's how I read it. Biden also tries to relate to hicks every chance he gets.

  • Hacha Cha||

    Never underestimate the unfathomable depths of stupidity.

    Biden should crush Pallin in the Vice Presidential debate. As much as I absolutely dislike and despise Biden's liberal and anti-gun positions, there seems to be no question he should be able to run circles around Pallin's permafrozen airheadedness.

    It would be funny and predictable if the VP debate gets higher TV ratings than the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama did. Nothing could be more pointless, and usually, most often traditionally ignored, than a Vice Presidential debate.

  • ||

    this is an overwhelmingly urban and suburban nation

    People in the suburbs like to think they live in small towns. If you look at the aesthetic from the peak of the suburbanizing era - roughly the 50s-80s - it was ranch houses, rail fences, wagon wheels. Her in New England, it was also a colonial style intended to evoke our small towns. Even the modern exuruban McMansion is based around a sort of country squire vibe. Flattering suburbanites that they're small town folks, too, is a political winner, because a lot of them want to believe it.

  • ||

    I think she is basically defending all the criticisms from the "elite" who discount and ridicule small towns, not saying that small towns are superior.

    I think inventing a mythical assault on small town folks from effete urban elites is a good way to rally people into an us vs. them mentality, little different than a black politicians pretending to be constantly subject to white racism, or a woman politician pretending that criticism of her is a manifestation of sexism.

    Our political class bends over backwards to kiss the ass of rural America. The pretense of being under assault is a useful political tactic.

  • Mosby||

    Everyone thinks their way of life is superior. Did we really need a column singling that out using the one group that it's always acceptable to piss on? You keep criticizing and belittling people and they are going to get defensive and react.

    This is like the bully that is incredulous when he finally gets jacked in the face...

  • ||

    "Finally, I agree with the larger point you are making, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with the faulty methodology used to make it."

    I think you are missing the point. As joe points out, the rural/urban divide isn't as important as the perception of such a divide. Since it is that perception, and not the reality, that matters, Chapman's article counters the validity of the perception.

  • Brandon||

    Not to get too nerdy, but you can draw a pretty straight line from Palin's rural virtue rhetoric to 17th-century English republicanism. The distinction often invoked in that context was between "country" and "court"--where the hardworking virtues of the country bumpkin compared favorably with the corruption of the courtiers located close to the halls of power. It's an Anglo trope, and it's at least three-and-a-half centuries old.

  • ||

    And the steak of non-retarded Chapman articles comes to an ugly end after racking up a grand total of one.

  • rhywun||

    It's an Anglo trope, and it's at least three-and-a-half centuries old.



    I agree. Our reverence for "the country" comes straight from England--along with the forms it took with the rise of suburbia (e.g. the "country estate"). The disdain for all things urban isn't nearly as strong outside the Anglo-sphere.

  • ||

    Warren,

    I'm hungry too, but yeah, this article is a bit rancid.

  • Darth Wingnut||

    The American people love Governor Palin - a true reformer if there ever was one. Only a big city secular humanist liberal like Chapman who hides behind his degrees and so-called "education" cannot see this.

  • ||

    And the steak of non-retarded Chapman articles comes to an ugly end after racking up a grand total of one.

    My thoughts exactly, though I would have said "streak". What a pointless, idiotic piece of shit. As I understand it, Chapman is from Chicago. Unless Chicago is so vastly different from NYC that it's like another dimension, if Chapman doesn't hear insults to "flyover country" on an hourly basis, he must have his ears welded shut.

    The city-versus-country bullshit is a foundational part of our KULTUR WAR and will be evoked endlessly.

    Thanks, Steve--I needed a reason to despise you again.

  • ||

    Just in !! VP candidate Palin ticketed for driving 35 mph in the fast lane. Her explanation is that in Wasilla the speed limit in the fast lane is 35 .

  • ConservativeWahoo||

    "Joe Biden would never get up in front of a crowd and suggest that the citizens of Manhattan are morally superior to the residents of Possum Gulch, Ark. But Sarah Palin was happy to tell the Republican National Convention that the very best people come from the country."

    Perhaps he wouldn't, and perhaps residents of urban America don't see themselves as "morally" superior....but they sure as hell see themselves as "culturally" superior and "intellectually" superior, and they sure as hell don't mind crowing about that!

  • ||

    I'll be so happy when this election is over, and our government can get back to the business of further damaging our economy.

  • ||

    PL,

    Are they not doing enough right now to suit you? ;-)

    "OMG! We're all going to die and our children will eat out of China's dumpsters for a 1,000 years!"

    Both parties are inflating this "crisis" for political benefit. I will happily bring this up the next time someone tries to argue against my "a pox on both of their houses" default.

  • ||

    Think back to the Ron Paul Newsleter fiasco, and the paleo-cosmo fights. Think of the terms each side used to describe the other.

    Paleolibertarian: a word that refers to one's ideas. Your ideas are old.

    On the other side, we heard cosmotarian, orange line mafia - you live in a city! City boy!

    Now, which of the following terms are slurs in our political discourse, and which are benedictions: San Francisco values, big-city, small-town, Main Street, Manhattan, cosmopolitan.

    Ever hear a politician ever use the term "flyover country," in other context other than to put the words in his opponent's mouth?

  • ||

    "OMG! We're all going to die and our children will eat out of China's dumpsters for a 1,000 years!"

    No, no, NutraSweet.

    In China's belly our children will find a new definition of pain and suffering as they are slowly digested over a thousand years.

  • Phil D||

    Executive summary:

    No! You are!

  • BDB||

    The Senate gives rural America a huge influence on federal policies, way more than they'd get under almost any other system. They need to stop their bitching.

  • Hogan||

    Joe, obviously national or state level politicians don't say such things if they're smart, but local and congressional officials in big cities (at least in New York, the only one I've lived in) often demonstrate that they share the attitudes of journos/artists/literati in regards to small town or rural populations. And I would add that Obama's bitter clinger comment might as well have included the phrase "flyover country." A conviction that "my tribe is better than your tribe" is common to everybody, city and country mouse alike.

    Fuck stupid city mice, can't even change a tire.

  • BDB||

    Question: If Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa vote Democrat, will they become part of the "Coastal elites" even though they don't have a coast?

  • BDB||

    And will Iowa still get to be THE "heartland" state?

  • ||

    Hogan,

    Yes, urban politicians pander to urban sensibilities in local elections, and rural politicians pander to rural sensibilities in rural elections.

    Now, let's look at national elections. Even Barack freaking Obama, constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, South Side politician, Harvard JD, talks about growing up in Kansas.

    When Barack Obama got caught saying something that could be construed as disparaging about rural voters, it was a major scandal and he ran away from it as fast as he could.

    When politicians say disparaging things about city folk, they write it up in a press release and send it to every wire service in the country.

    Fuck stupid city mice, can't even change a tire. But we can check our tire pressure just fine.

  • ||

    Ever hear a politician ever use the term "flyover country," in other context other than to put the words in his opponent's mouth?

    That's because it's a straight-up pejorative. I can't tell you how many times I have heard that used derisively, just not where anybody would take offense (which would be at a Manhattan cocktail party).

  • BDB||

    And even Rudy Giuliani gets away with dissing "cosmopolitanism" and Mitt Romney can diss "eastern elites" with a straight face.

  • Chris Howell||

    Sarah Palin says she's just like you and me (except for that being governor of a state thing). I started to wonder. Maybe Palin is like me. Maybe she's worried for her job. Maybe she's having trouble paying for gas to put in her car. Maybe she's troubled by rising food prices. So I looked up her salary as governor of Alaska.

    READ MORE: http://chrishowell.com/2008/10/01/sarah-palin-elitist/

  • Anymouse||

    Steve Chapman is probably the worst writer at Reason. Seriously. It's not about where he stands; he's not even honest in constructing his arguments.

    And he's a mediocre writer.

    (And no, this is not a defense of Palin or small towns. I'm just really tired of seeing Chapman's turds litter Reason.)

  • ||

    That's because it's a straight-up pejorative.

    And it's not considered acceptable to use straight-up pejoratives for rural areas.

    But you can bash San Francisco, Manhattan, Boston, New Orleans, and Chicago all you want. Decadent coastal enclaves.

  • Hogan||

    Joe - but what disparaging things do they say about city folk? This article doesn't reference a single negative comment from Palin about cities, and I may be forgetting something, but I can't remember any time a viable national politician said something like "oh those city slickers with their homos and their cocaine..." Or some kind of John Rocker diatribe about riding the subway.

    Politicians always rail against "elites," and their ideology determines whether they mean gouty plutocrats or effeminate snobs or Washington bureaucrats - but that's not the same as disparaging cities.

  • BDB||

    Joe is probably a little sore that "Massachusetts liberal" has been a pejorative used for the last twenty some years.

  • BDB||

    Used openly, I'll add.

  • ||

    Joe - but what disparaging things do they say about city folk?

    Decadent, atheistic, not real Americans, don't share "our" values, don't work hard, let's welcome Macaca to the real world of Virginia. If there hadn't been a racial slur in that last one, George Allen would have distributed the video himself.

  • BDB||

    Except "inside the beltway" isn't a pejorative in Virginia, because 33% of the population actually DOES live "inside the beltway", literally. That was pretty stupid to say, too.

  • ||

    Joe is probably a little sore that "Massachusetts liberal" has been a pejorative used for the last twenty some years

    BDB, you must not be from New England. The proper term is "Masshole".

  • ||

    Well, I think Joe has a point here. While lots of city/country folk hold one another in deep disdain, and you don't have to look hard for it (hell, sometimes you don't have to look, it jumps up and slaps you in the face), I think politicians never praise "big-city" values; they praise "small-town" or "country" values. Y'all can argue about why that is, but in my totally unscientific observations, its true.

  • ||

    But you can bash San Francisco, Manhattan, Boston, New Orleans, and Chicago all you want. Decadent coastal enclaves.

    Both sides use code words. It hides the contempt just enough.

  • David||

    Except the anti-urban slurs aren't coded. Plenty of political ads in the last election cycle explicitly called out San Francisco and New York.

  • ||

    Joe,
    Guess you were fooled by the Obama commercial and his frequent remarks. He's not from Kansas, he's never lived in Kansas, and didn't even go to Kansas until the campaign. He claims he absorbed "Kansas values" from his grandmother who raised him in Hawaii! Pretty roundabout way to buy some rural cred!

  • ||

    The problem with cities is that they are full of people from the country.

  • Hogan||

    Not to invade anyone's privacy, just cuz I'm curious - where do y'all live?

    I'm from Tallahassee, FL and now live in Beaufort, SC.

  • ||

    Politicians always rail against "elites,"

    Yes, like Fred Thompson, the multi-millionaire DC lobbyist, buying a red truck and driving around talking about what a regular guy he is.

    Anti-elitism is a proxy for anti-urbanism and regionalist reverse snobbery. How many laudatory articles about the noble savages has David Brooks churned out?

  • BDB||

    Joe, how about "Amtrak Joe Biden" who it turns out owns a $4 million estate in the same neighborhood where the DuPont family lives?

  • Hogan||

    I think politicians never praise "big-city" values; they praise "small-town" or "country" values. Y'all can argue about why that is, but in my totally unscientific observations, its true.

    I agree, though the melting pot, early 20th century, immigrant values of big cities sometimes get praised.

  • ||

    JohnL brings up another good example.

    So, where are the politicians who overemphasized their connections to Brooklyn, the South Side, and LA?

    George W. Bush is from Texas. Yup. Sure he is.

  • ||

    Not to invade anyone's privacy, just cuz I'm curious - where do y'all live?

    Connecticut.

  • ||

    John L,

    I guess I didn't get fooled, because I didn't write that he grew up in Kansas. I wrote that he "talks about growing up in Kansas."

  • BDB||

    I live in what was once called the "real world".

  • BDB||

    Though I might be transformed into a "coastal elite" in 33 days.

  • ||

    I live in Alan Vanneman's dreamland area of Kentucky. Horse farms and bourbon.

  • joanne||

    This article is soooooo pointless!

  • rhywun||

    I can't tell you how many times I have heard that used derisively, just not where anybody would take offense



    Exactly. Liberal elites bash "flyover country" in the company of other liberal elites. Bashing the cities is acceptable in any company, due to the fact that it's part of America's built-in "character" for lack of a better term.

    where do y'all live?



    Brooklyn.

  • ||

    Brooklyn.

    HAHAHA, borough rat.

    (You want to see condescension, you watch the Manhattan versus borough match-ups)

  • BDB||

    I'm sure its dwarfed by upstate vs. downstate.

  • ||

    Decadent, atheistic, not real Americans, don't share "our" values,

    Aside from the ever-present problems of over-generalizing, I would say that there is some validity to saying that someone from flyover country characterizing the coastal enclaves as (relatively) decadent, atheistic, and not sharing our values. Isn't this just the flipside of Obama's remarks about bitter clingers?

    As for "not real Americans", I suspect that would be joe indulging hyperbole and/or throwing out an apocryphal comment not to be found in nature.

  • rhywun||

    You want to see condescension, you watch the Manhattan versus borough match-ups



    It's less noticeable now that no mere mortal can afford to live in Manhattan any more.

    I'm sure its dwarfed by upstate vs. downstate.



    I'm from Upstate and the NYC-bashing is non-stop up there. Now I live in NYC and we don't bash Upstate so much as ignore it.

  • rhywun||

    Anyone remember the salsa commercial that ridiculed a competitor for being made in "New York City?!?!" Try to imagine the reverse.

  • BDB||

    Hell, try to imagine "Texas conservative", or even "Texas reactionary" as an openly used pejorative in a Presidential race.

  • junior||

    You hear this shit everywhere. I went to school in South Dakota for a while. No shit...people that live East of the Missouri river are considered more cosmopolitan than people that live West of the Missouri river. You'd actually hear people dismiss someone based on their being "west river". People from Sioux Falls, town of around 150k, are practically considered Manhattan sophisticates.

    I don't want to generalize, but those hayseeds from South Dakota are all so dumb. They're not nearly as bright as people from North Dakota.

  • ||

    Try to imagine the reverse.

    "A $600 dollar purse? Made in Oklamhoma!?!"

  • ||

    George W. Bush is from Texas. Yup. Sure he is.

    Well, he was raised in Texas, was a member of the Texas National Guard, applied to the University of Texas Law School (he didn't get in), married a Texan, and pretty much lived his whole life there except for going to high school and college back east. I think he's entitled to say he's a Texan.

  • ||

    It's less noticeable now that no mere mortal can afford to live in Manhattan any more.

    When I talk to my friend who still lives on the Upper East Side, and we discuss him going out to Queens for various reasons, it's very noticeable. Of course, his parents own a 1.5 million dollar apartment in Sutton Place, so your "mere mortal" crack is still valid.

  • Hogan||

    Scene: Group of cowboys eating bagels around a campfire.

    Cowboy 1: Where'd they make this shit? This bagel tastes awful!

    Cowboy 2: Says here they made it in... Possum Gulch, Arkansas?!?!

  • Hogan||

    Shit Sugarfree beat me to it.

  • ||

    Hell, try to imagine "Texas conservative", or even "Texas reactionary" as an openly used pejorative in a Presidential race.

    I would point out that the term "cowboy" is frequently used as a pejorative in national politics.

  • ||

    I agree, though the melting pot, early 20th century, immigrant values of big cities sometimes get praised.

    Hmm, good point.

    Also, I think some people mis-use the term "elitist". Elitism as an attitude these days does not necessarily have anything to do with having money. Middle-class college profs can be utterly disdainful of multi-millionaires (I know several of the former).

    I suppose its also worth saying that elitism is often undefined; its a lot like "fascism", something vaguely awful those other guys are into.

    Finally, I live in Austin, though I grew up in small towns (

  • ||

    Try to imagine the reverse

    Pizza? Made in West Virginia?

  • BDB||

    Pizza? Made in West Virginia?



    Where are Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and Papa John's based? I doubt it's Manhattan or San Francisco. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's flyover country.

  • Hogan||

    When I lived in New York, borough-based class sniping was pretty prevalent and upstate didn't seem to exist.

  • dhex||

    that would be an excellent bagel commercial, if only because most bagel joints (even in the city) are lenders-style rubber discs.

    once the jews got out of the bagel business it was all downhill, i tells ya.

  • BDB||

    Sure enough.

    Pizza Hut: Addison, Texas
    Dominoes: Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Papa John's: Louisville, Kentucky

    That probably represents around 80% of the pizza consumed in the country, and no one bitches about how it's not from New York.

  • ||

    Where are Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and Papa John's based?

    If you are in any way implying that those pizzas are edible, you just showed exactly why there is contempt for southerners.

  • BDB||

    It's still the vast majority of pizza consumed in the USA. And Papa John's is good.

  • ||

    Isn't this just the flipside of Obama's remarks about bitter clingers?

    Once again, when Barack Obama's remarks got out, it was a major scandal. As opposed to the slurs I listed that are frequently thrown at urban dwellers, which are proudly, loudly asserted.

    As for "not real Americans", I suspect that would be joe indulging hyperbole and/or throwing out an apocryphal comment not to be found in nature.

    So, let's welcome Macaca to the REAL WORLD of Virgnia - George Allen.

    Boston? I'd have thought they'd want to hold it in America - Tom Delay.

    Yeah, I'm must making stuff up. It's apocraphyl.

  • ||

    Papa John's is based out of Kentucky.

    I am very, very sorry. If I could have stopped them from getting out, I would have. You've got to believe me.

  • dhex||

    That probably represents around 80% of the pizza consumed in the country, and no one bitches about how it's not from New York.

    does a blind man criticize paintings? i think not.

    let those who have taste buds taste.

    amen.

  • BDB||

    The only reverse situation I can think of was when Sam Adam's Beer caught shit for being brewed in Pittsburgh (or at least the stuff that's sold in stores is).

  • ||

    This sort of reminds me of David Brooks of the New York Times who often talks about how Democrats and liberals are so out of touch because they don't know the latest Brooks and Dunn album or go hunting on weekends(I can imagine him leaning back and sipping a fine Merlot as he pens it) People who think rural, small-town, conservative, religious people are so great shoud be FORCED to spend all of their time with them...

  • ||

    It's still the vast majority of pizza consumed in the USA. And Papa John's is good.

    Do they have real, fresh mozzarella on them? No? I rest my case.

  • ||

    We have good pizza, really! Wood-fired, chewy crust, decent toppings! I swear!

  • ||

    "That probably represents around 80% of the pizza consumed in the country, and no one bitches about how it's not from New York."

    You're right. I would bitch about how disgusting it is, but I stopped eating it a long time ago. Besides, the corporate headquarters of a national pizza chain isn't where the pizza is made, is it? Any pizza elitist knows that you find some local goombah pizza shop and skip over the family sized chain garbage.

  • BDB||

    You're from Connecticut, Epi. Not the "real America". Sorry. ;)

  • BDB||

    "Any pizza elitist knows that you find some local goombah pizza shop and skip over the family sized chain garbage."

    And those exist even in towns of 20,000. At least one, anyway.

  • ||

    So, Sarah Palin's sole effective, lauded contribution to this election was a speech in which she railed against people who look down on small towns.

    And the reverse, the example of a national candidate appealing to a national audience by talking about how city-dwellers are picked on by people in "flyover country" is...?

  • ||

    I grew up in a small town and everyone who lives there thinks small towns are so great as I did, until I actually grew up, left, was educated and it became obvious that those people didn't know shit from Shinola...

  • ||

    BDB, I lived for 7 years on the Upper East Side, too. I'm definitely not a real American.

    Best pizza around is Luna Pizza and Totonno's. Absolutely phenomenal.

    "Only God Makes Better Pizza"

  • BDB||

    Still, can anyone imagine how they're going to portray New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa as "Coastal" after this election?

  • BDB||

    You're one of those effete New York cosmopolitans Rudy Giuliani talked about, aren't you?

  • Hogan||

    People who think rural, small-town, conservative, religious people are so great shoud be FORCED to spend all of their time with them...

    Eh. I'm not sayin' it's for everybody, but I live in a small town now in the south and find the people much more likable than those I knew when I lived in Manhattan (though many of them were great as well).

  • ||

    And the reverse, the example of a national candidate appealing to a national audience by talking about how city-dwellers are picked on by people in "flyover country" is...?

    Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access. They just call "flyover country" by the more acceptable name "Religious Right." Just because the left codes it better doesn't mean that they don't do it. Come on, man.

  • Hogan||

    In addition to living being more affordable and laid-back, there being more open space and privacy, etc...

    Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access. They just call "flyover country" by the more acceptable name "Religious Right." Just because the left codes it better doesn't mean that they don't do it. Come on, man.

    Agreed.

  • dhex||

    totonnos is fucking delicious. the UES location is only about a mile away from work, too.

    And Papa John's is good.

    **shakes head, sips latte, flips open style section of times.**

  • ||

    dhex, for a few years there was a place called Candido's just a few blocks from Totonno's, and it was even better, if you can believe that. But for some reason they went under; maybe the Upper East Side is too small for two fantastic pizza joints.

  • BDB||

    Did anyone else notice how Starbucks went form being some "elite" location to being on par with McDonalds in the minds of people?

  • ||

    The irony of this whole debate is that traditional urban neighborhoods - not Lower Manhattan or Hollywood, but the ones is places like Pittsburgh and Lowell and Camden -are a lot more similar to small towns than either of them are to the late-20th-century suburbs, which are in turn a lot more similar to Lower Manhattan and downtown Washington.

    Close-knit vs. not knowing your neighbors. Small local businesses vs. big national chains predominant. A preponderance of longtime residents vs. high turnover. Local vs. national or even international character.

  • ||

    You're one of those effete New York cosmopolitans Rudy Giuliani talked about, aren't you?

    You mean like Rudy? I did live just a few blocks away from him.

  • BDB||

    Exactly!

    And Joe is one of those Mass elites Mitt Romney talked about.

  • ||

    It seems clear from her interview with Katie Couric that Gov. Palin hasn't really been out of small towns too much which would fit my perception that the people who most praise small towns are those who have never been there or never left...

  • rhywun||

    we discuss him going out to Queens for various reasons, it's very noticeable



    It's also a function of travel being a pain in the ass. I very rarely go to Manhattan outside work hours any more for the same reason.

  • BDB||

    Seriously, I've never seen a Governor diss the very state he governed until Mitt Romney at the RNC.

  • ||

    Pace Salsa is based in New Jersey (though apparently made in San Antonio), and the cowboy commercials came from Madison Avenue. They apparently imagined a New Yorker who got his bagels from San Antonio, then reversed the imagery.

    And if you've ever eaten at Bagelry, you know not to even attempt Einstein's. And my pick for best pizza: Romano Famous Pizza in Astoria/LIC.

  • ||

    Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access.

    I see. The liberal position on some of the most contested issues in the political arena cannot be articulated, because it's really code for insulting people who live in rural areas. OK.

    That's what this is all about.

  • ||

    The question I have is What does it mean to be an elite anyway?? How do people like Rudy Giulliani, Romney, McCain, all of these incredibly wealthy people get away with calling much poorer Democrats elites??

  • BDB||

    Is it possible to get elected Mayor of NYC by bashing Manhattan?

  • ||

    "The question I have is What does it mean to be an elite anyway?? How do people like Rudy Giulliani, Romney, McCain, all of these incredibly wealthy people get away with calling much poorer Democrats elites??"

    If they use Macs, then they're elites. Next question!

  • ||

    Anti-elitism seems to be code for a few things: 1) Anti-book learnin' 2) Anti-Critical thinkin' 3) America at any and every cost (see 1 and 2)...

  • ||

    Is it possible to get elected Mayor of NYC by bashing Manhattan?

    Hell no.

  • ||

    It's also a function of travel being a pain in the ass. I very rarely go to Manhattan outside work hours any more for the same reason.

    I used to go out to Brooklyn a lot, but then again, I had a garaged car, so it was easy.

  • ||

    If you drove a $125,000 Hummer you might not be an elite, but if you drove a smart car or a $35,000 Prius you would be an elite...

  • ||

    It's still the vast majority of pizza consumed in the USA.

    Doesn't mean it's not shit.

    I think I started disdaining small-town people when I realized that, despite bitching about paying taxes to support those "city folks," they receive significantly more back in terms of vital services than they put out. Something like a dollar for every 72 cents they pay. While people in cities usually get back a dollar for about every 1.50 they pay, and they complain much less about it. Okay, you can stop paying taxes, but only if you give up all the money you're extorting from me because of the stupid electoral system first.

  • ||

    If SugarFree was right, and the entirety of the liberal platform was a "coded" attack on small-town America that only "coastal elites" are supposed to recognize as such, wouldn't the fact that you need to code language bashing "the heartland," while politicans speak quote openly about their contempt for the blue states, pretty effectively demonstrate my point?

  • Brandybuck||

    I was born and raised in a small town in a heavy agricultural area. But I now live in Silicon Valley's high-tech suburbia. I'm constantly hearing friends and neighbors make disparaging comments about rural folks. So I think this rural elitism is a fair turnabout. It's time urban folks were made fun of. Stop with the cow tipping joke, and start laughing at suburban moms who think milk comes from trees.

  • Hogan||


    I see. The liberal position on some of the most contested issues in the political arena cannot be articulated, because it's really code for insulting people who live in rural areas. OK.


    You're right to be skeptical, but I think - and this is mostly just anecdotal based on the people I know most concerned about gay rights, abortion, etc... - that it's stated in a way that suggests that those people (the ones you never got along with in high school and moved here to escape) want to tell you how to live and they hunt and they go to church, etc... I think it's definitely got a "that tribe wants to control you because they think they're better but what do they know" vibe, so there's at least some parallel.... Just like small town cosmo-bashing has it's own policy flashpoints (gun control, school prayer, etc...) But you're right there isn't really an equivalent of the Tom Delay Boston comment you cited. At least not among people who expect to be elected to anything.

  • BDB||

    Rural areas rape the cities financially because of the Senate, at least at the federal level. If we didn't have the Senate, Alaska would get nothin'.

  • BDB||

    I wish people would attack and demean suburbanites. They're the worst.

  • rhywun||

    "Only God Makes Better Pizza"



    I've found that aside from a couple standouts, Outer Borough pizza greatly outclasses Manhattan pizza. I lived in Queens for 7 years, Brooklyn for 2, and in each case the nearest corner pizza joint is better than anything I've had in Manhattan. Same thing with diners.

  • gmatts||

    "I would point out that the term "cowboy" is frequently used as a pejorative in national politics."

    But whose going to get offended by the term cowboy? There are now cowboys anymore and haven't been for some time. So, cowboy just really means some asshole that wears occasionaly wears a costume - like wearing cowboy boots with a tuxedo or a cowboy hat to a political convention to look "folksy".

    Plus, Tomy Romo is a homo and no one likes Jerry Jones, hence the way "Cowboy" became a pejorative.

  • ||

    Every city must have these funny intra-city fusses. I live in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. A great neighborhood actually, but people who live IN Portland are extremely dismissive of the burbs. And even within Portland, you have to live in the right place to truly be a Portlander. The city is divided into four quandrants, generally intersecting in downtown. If you live in Northeast or Southeast, you're cool. If you live in Southwest or Northwest, you're "effete." Or consider the some 200-plus individually named neighborhoods - it goes on and on.

  • ||

    "Something like a dollar for every 72 cents they pay. While people in cities usually get back a dollar for about every 1.50 they pay, and they complain much less about it."


    Alaska is the biggest fuckin' wellfare state of them all, they get most of their budget from oil revenues, pay no state sales or income tax, received a check for over $2,000 per year per person from the oil companies, and get 1.80 per 1.00 they send to the federal gov't. Alaska would be a fucking third world shithole without the U.S. gov't.

  • ||

    I posted before I saw BDB's comment on suburbanites. Take heart, they do that here - A LOT.

  • ||

    rural dweller here in southern coastal oregon telling you this is a weak article. the author presented only three points of comparison, alcohol/drug use, unwed mothers and crime, to support his case that we sons of the sod are no better than you latte-sipping, raised-pinky metrosexuals.

    there's a little more drinking out here and drugs are equally available here and in portland and san francisco. the unwed mother argument is fuzzy due to lack of data, mississippi and new mexico were implicated, but not on a city versus country basis, and i can tell you oregon is an entirely different place from mississippi or new mexico. we're way down on crime compared to the cities.

    see, we're a little short on three-star restaurants, art museums and live theater out here, so after all the day's chores are done, we're too busy drinking and fucking to get involved in crime. i've got your daughter right here, and she's spending the morning cleaning and oiling my fishing reels and firearms.

  • ||

    joe,

    I see. The liberal position on some of the most contested issues in the political arena cannot be articulated, because it's really code for insulting people who live in rural areas. OK.

    Show me where I said that.

    Of course they can talk about all that stuff. I never said that, you know it. My contention was just that the left indulges in the rural/urban slapfight as well, they just do it better. You said they didn't at all.

    Feel free to deliberately keep misrepresenting my argument.

  • ||

    Bruce...I mean rhywun, I only eat fresh mozzarella pizza. I consider everything else to not be real pizza. So Totonno's it is.

    Plus, Tony Romo is a homo

    Yeah, he's tapping Jessica Simpson. She may be a bimbo but that ain't gay, dude.

  • ||

    But whose going to get offended by the term cowboy? There are no cowboys anymore and haven't been for some time.

    Actually, there are still people who do the kind of work that cowboys did (important note: most people in Westerns weren't cowboys) -- herd cattle and handle ranching duties. But its true there aren't all that many anymore.

  • gmatts||

    I know he's not gay. It was a reference to one of the greatest websites ever conceived. Plus, it rhymes.

  • ||

    "Plus, Tony Romo is a homo

    Yeah, he's tapping Jessica Simpson. She may be a bimbo but that ain't gay, dude."


    I dunno. Would Romo be tagging J.Simpson if she didn't have a Jesse Ventura chin?

  • rhywun||

    I wish people would attack and demean suburbanites. They're the worst.



    Happy to oblige :)

    They want to enjoy the benefits of the city whilst pretending it isn't there. This is especially prominent in cities like Buffalo that have gone to shit as people with means have crossed the border and loudly and proudly proclaim how they've "never been to the city (shudder)".

  • ||

    Hogan,

    I agree, there is my-tribe-vs-yours-ism on all sides.

    SugarFree, you want some cheese with that whine? If you aren't going to defend your arguments, don't make them. You stated, in response to my question about when politicians bash rural dwellers, Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access. Anyone. Who talks about those issues from the liberal viewpoint. Is bashing people in rural areas.

    I understand why you aren't proud of making this argument, but we can all read the thread.

  • BDB||

    Yeah, I live in the city and like it. I could totally live in the country and be fine there, too. But the suburbs? It's like the worst of both, except tackier.

  • ||

    I went to college with a guy from Kearney, Nebraska.

    He told me that the cowboys used to insult him with the appelation "Town Boy."

    Not even "City Boy." Hey, Mr. Cosmo, you living WITHIN the municipal boundary of Kearney, Nebraska. Nice sneakers, Town Boy. Where's your boots?

  • BDB||

    Wow, that's funny joe.

  • Abdullah||

    I moved from a medium sized city in Ohio of about 80,000 to a tiny village about 25 minutes away when I was in middle school, and the contrast was striking. The school was 99.9.% white, extremely racist, and ignorant as hell. My class had a ridiculously high drop out rate. The poor souls who didn't escape after high school ended up working dead end jobs, and addicted to alcohol, meth, or crack (or all 3). A friend of mine who moved back to that town recently, said he's been jumped 3 times by random drunk hillbillies. So I might be biased...but I have no reverence for "small town values". I would really like to, but I'd be lying to myself. The pathetic pandering politicians do to seem like "one of us" is depressing and usually transparent. Not that I like the company of urban liberal elitists either, but there's a such thing as down to earth hard-working people who aren't idiots. Those are my circle of friends and confidants.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    It's an Anglo trope, and it's at least three-and-a-half centuries old.


    I would say that it goes back at least to the Romans, who purported to believe in similar agrarian virtues long after it became obvious that they believed in anything but.

  • ||

    Would Romo be tagging J.Simpson if she didn't have a Jesse Ventura chin?

    This is an interesting question. He did date Carrie Underwood and she's chinny too.

  • ||

    Any Orlando folk here? My take is that it is a small town pumped up on Mickey Mouse money steroids so much that it has delusions of NYC metrosexual grandeur. It's like a redneck town that wishes it were more into Bravo.

  • ||

    Lowell is the world's biggest small town.

    They need to change the motto from "Art is the handmaid of human good" to "Hey, I went to school with your sister!"

  • ||

    i eat better pizza than any of you. i make it myself from scratch. fresh, whole milk mozzarella and goat cheese. basil and oregano from my garden out front. sauce from my heirloom tomatoes. mushrooms, kalamata olives, bell peppers on top, plus razor-thin, crumpled slices of parma prosciutto. every june i get a whole parma ham (igourmet.com is a good source, it'll set you back $200 plus shipping) and it lasts until the end of october.

  • ||

    "This is an interesting question. He did date Carrie Underwood and she's chinny too."

    Carrie Underwood = Simon Cowell surrogate.

  • ||

    joe,

    I don't have to defend arguments I didn't make. The issue here is you asked for an example of national left politicians railing against rural dwellers. I argued that liberals say "Religious Right" instead of "flyover country" as a loaded innuendo to mean both religious conservatives and people who don't share cosmopolitan values (i.e. rural people.)

    If you want to argue that "rural/Religious right" values aren't perceived by the liberal audience as anti-gay and anti-reproductive choice go ahead and make it.

    Or you can keep arguing with the SugarFree in your head and Democrat RAH RAH RAH and join Chicago "I never heard a conservative called a fascist" Tom in fantasyland.

  • ||

    Joe, that "town boy" thing is pretty funny. I used to drive one of my hat-ownin' boot-wearin', country-music lovin' college roommates nuts by calling him "drugstore". He was from Plano, TX (not the country), whereas my family owned an actual, working ranch.

    /also has a hat and boots
    //likes Dwight Yoakum

  • ||

    Carrie Underwood = Simon Cowell surrogate.

    You know way too much about gay substitution fantasies. NTTAWWT.

    every june i get a whole parma ham

    I get jamon from Spain through my ex-girlfriend. I win.

  • ||

    SugarFree: My impression has always been that the religious right are suburban, mega-church going, middle class folks. I'm I wrong here? My own rural cousins are not nearly as obnoxious about religion than my suburban cousins that think they're country dwellers.

  • ||

    "You know way too much about gay substitution fantasies."

    I just don't like women with manly features, NTTAWWT.

    Episiarch wins with the jamon serrano.

  • ||

    I just don't like women with manly features, NTTAWWT.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Granted. But this is an argument about innuendo and codes. I live in a mostly rural state. The theocrat/religious but don't give a shit line is usually stark. But if the perception that the city is filled with elites, effetes and commies is enough argument for the right to be in the wrong, then the city-cased perception of the country as all brain-dead christo-tards puts them in the wrong as well.

    Just don't say both sides don't do it. Because that's bullshit.

  • ||

    SugarFree,

    I argued that liberals say "Religious Right" instead of "flyover country" as a loaded innuendo to mean both religious conservatives and people who don't share cosmopolitan values (i.e. rural people.)

    Actually, what you wrote was this: Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access.

    What is this horrible bashing of rural-dwellers? Well, whenever anyone argues the liberal side of reproductive-choice issues, they're bashing rural folk in code. Anyone who talks about. Your words.

    Renounce them, defend them, drop off the thread, whatever, but stop whining at me.

  • economist||

    Having resided in both small towns and and large cities, I can definitely say that city folks tend to be more dismissive of small-town folks than vice-versa. And a lot of the prejudices of small-town folks are that big-city types are gigantic assholes.

  • ||

    Granted. But this is an argument about innuendo and codes.

    Not a whole lotta innuendo and code in Tom Delay's statement about Boston not being in America, or in George Allen's statement about the northern third of Virgnia not being "the real world of Virginia."

    Apparently, bashing rural dwellers is so widespread and acceptable that you have to do it in code, even when talking to a blue-state audience.

  • ||

    OK, so you choose fantasyland. Watch that SugarFree in your head. I hear he occasionally tells you to kill.

  • ||

    Episiarch wins with the jamon serrano.

    Actually, jamon iberico. Which is even more win.

  • rhywun||

    I have no reverence for "small town values"



    "Small-town values" is code for homogeneity, conformity, and peer pressure, deriving from family and church, that can often lead to the qualities that people like about small towns, such as lower crime and less noise.

    My nabe in Brooklyn has many of those same qualities that people associate with small towns, at least as compared to Manhattan, but without any of that other stuff. Win/win.

  • ||

    The saintly hick vs. sinful city slicker mythology fits with the general observation that it is more socially acceptable or politically correct for the disadvantaged class (poor, rural, dumb, handicapped, dark-skinned, poorly educated, women, Cubs etc.) to disrespect the advantaged (rich, urban, smart, fit, white, highly educated, men, Yankees)than vice versa.

    We in the advantaged class consider this rude, unfair and irrational. C'mon over to my place, Chapman, and we'll pout over this plight with brie and some Lafitte Rothschild 1978 I've been holding back.

  • ||

    Your words, SugarFree. Your argument, your words. That's why I keep quoting them.

    Here, I'm going to do it again:

    Anyone who talks about threats to abortion rights, gay rights, or birth control access. is talking in code about how bad people are in flyover country.

    Your argument, no fantasy involved at all.

  • ||

    A major demographic component to these statistics is income. Drug and alchol abuse, as well as out-of-wedlock births, are more common among the lower income populations. These rural communities are often low income. The same social ills are common among the similarly situated populations in the cities.

  • rhywun||

    Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as out-of-wedlock births, are more common among the lower income populations.



    I don't believe that for a second.

  • ||

    I was all set to defend the wickedness of the city, which I believe is a feature and not a bug, but then the article said
    "found that country kids were 26 percent more likely to experiment with drugs than middle-schoolers elsewhere. Overall methamphetamine consumption among adults and teens is more than 50 percent higher in the country."
    AND
    "Excessive boozing among adults, it noted, appears to be no less widespread in Mayberry than in Metropolis."
    AND
    "It's true that crime is much more common in the city than in the country."
    AND
    "and wide-open spaces are no guarantee of responsible sexual behavior"
    Damn, booze, sex, drugs, and low crime...if they have rock and roll, it must be damn near heaven.

  • ||

    Thank you for writing this. I'm also sick of the hypocricy of rural people who bitch about being looked-down on urban-elites while looking down on everyone else themselves.

    Wasilla is the Meth capitol of Alaska - gotta love those small-town "values".

  • ||

    If not going to talk you you when you're throwing a tantrum, joe.

  • economist||

    fresnodan,
    I agree with you for the most part, but meth can legitimately screw you up.

  • ||

    "Actually, jamon iberico. Which is even more win."

    OK, Mr. Moneybags! I guess I was poor when I lived in Spain.

  • ||

    Perhaps he wouldn't, and perhaps residents of urban America don't see themselves as "morally" superior....but they sure as hell see themselves as "culturally" superior and "intellectually" superior, and they sure as hell don't mind crowing about that!

    Example of anyone saying anythign like Palin or are you just spewing more bullcrap stereotypes?

    Give me an example of someone saying

    "We grow good people in our big cities, with intelligence and culture ... They are the ones who do some of the deepest thinking in America, who create our culture, run our universities and make our scientific and technological advances. They actually know people from other countries and other cultures instead of just seeing them on TV. They love their country like adults love, not like children love, and therefore while they're proud of America they are also not childishly terrified by the idea of admitting when she is wrong. "

  • BDB||

    Yeah, I really can't see Mark Warner going to Alexandria or Manassas and start talking about "All those rednecked hicks down in Wise and Bristol".

  • Another Phil||

    Another Upper East Sider here. I've walked by Totonno's a million times and never gone in. I'll have to try it soon. Most of the pizza on the UES is edible, but unremarkable. And why the hell can't we get a decent burrito place?

    Any other New Yorkers think that Patsy's in East Harlem is grossly overrated?

    i eat better pizza than any of you.

    OK.

  • Barack Obama||

    These folks are just bitter hicks clinging to God and guns, because they haven't felt the all-embracing love of THE STATE from which all life and happiness flows, personified in ME, who am the manifestation of all that is good and right with THE STATE. Give up your petty business dealings, "constitutional rights", and hateful religions and bask in the divine light of THE STATE.

  • ||

    If not going to talk you you when you're throwing a tantrum, joe.

    then not going to have to worry about responding to you.

  • ||

    Wasilla is the Meth capitol of Alaska

    Pfft. Hillbillies. Our meth capitals are way better than Alaska's.

  • ||

    This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This cannot be happening. Oh my god oh my god oh my god. This IS a center-right country! It IS!

    I'm in my happy place. I'm in my happy place. Warm sand. Waves crashing. Warm sand. Waves crashing. What's on Realclearpolitics?

    Oh, FUCK!

    This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening...

  • ||

    I've walked by Totonno's a million times and never gone in. I'll have to try it soon

    Do it, dude. You won't regret it.

    And why the hell can't we get a decent burrito place?

    Isn't the Burritoville still there? They had some pretty great burritos.

  • Warty||

    joe | October 2, 2008, 1:18pm | #

    If not going to talk you you when you're throwing a tantrum, joe.

    then not going to have to worry about responding to you.


    Fine, you can have the last word.

    No, you have the last word.

    No, you.

    No, you.


    Re: country life vs. city life: you have a better chance of never having to see your neighbors in the country, which makes it much easier to dispose of prostitutes' corpses. On the other hand, it's much easier to abduct prostitutes in the city. So it's an open question whether city life or country life is better.

  • ||

    "found that country kids were 26 percent more likely to experiment with drugs than middle-schoolers elsewhere honestly respond to a survey given to them in their classroom."

  • JR||

    I was raised in central Illinois, not far from the University of Illinois, from which I graduated. Shortly after I moved to Miami/Fort Lauderdale, I went to a Christmas season party where the conversation turned to summer camps (in New York) and everyone's memories of their adventures and exploits there.

    I realized that not only had I not gone to summer camp, I had never known anyone who had ever gone to a summer camp.

    And that, friends, is a big city/small town difference.

  • Xanthippas||

    There are far more important subjects to get upset about than Palin's promotion of small towns. Was she saying big cities are the opposite? I didn't read that, except for the words you put in her mouth.

    I think she is basically defending all the criticisms from the "elite" who discount and ridicule small towns, not saying that small towns are superior.


    Comments like this one, and others in a similar vein, make me wonder where you guys have been for the last twenty years. For that's how long conservatives pundits and Republicans politicians have been inveighing against the urban "elite" and praising the honest-to-goodness, down-home value of those who live in the small towns. Honestly, how is it possible that you've missed this phenomenon, when it gets played in every single election? Palin is no different; unlike that lunatic Ann Coulter she's actually lived in and been mayor of small town (as opposed to flying over them on trip from LA to NY) but the anti-urban/anti-elitist sentiment is no different. You'd think we were Jeffersonian nation of small farmers the way the right has played up the virtues of rural life. In truth it's merely part of a larger strategy of playing off of people's resentments; Republicans living in Frisco (a wealthy suburb north of Dallas where I'm from) feel solidarity with the hicks in Kaufman because they share the same resentment the urbanites, who in their minds re either black unemployed crack-addicts, or live in studio apartments sipping lattes and looking down their noses at "country bumpkins." Playing off the resentments of those who either feel socially or economically down-trodden is a well-work political strategy, which I'm sure has been practiced since the first caveman moved into a village.

    Seriously, you guys don't know what Chapman is talking about?

  • ||

    As a product of the Northeastern megalopolis who has worked in a lot of smaller cities and towns over the years, I can tell you first-hand that small-town snobbery is all too real in Red-state America. I 've heard things like, "I'll bet you're glad to be out of that place, and here in God's country." When I opine that I happen to like my hometown, I get at best, blank stares, and at worst open hostility!
    Thank you, Steve Chapman, for bringing this to light.

  • ||

    Steve, thanks for this article. Although certainly not the best "Reason" article I've ever read, it's far from the worst.

    Don't know what beef Epi, et als, have with you but I find that you at your worst are far better than Mangu-Ward at her hyphenated best.

    And I certainly find nothing dishonest about your arguments or definitions.

    Thanks, Brandon, for making the point about the historical context of pure country versus sinful city.

  • rhywun||

    I'm from the city too and I've never been to camp*, nor known anyone who has. I think it's a class thing in addition to city/country.

    *Except one summer I attended the bargain version for the less affluent like ourselves: "day camp".

  • ||

    "I'm from the city too and I've never been to camp*, nor known anyone who has. I think it's a class thing in addition to city/country"

    A lot of kids from my rural-now-suburban CT hometown went to day camp, but I didn't, and my neighborhood friends didn't. I don't know anyone who went to actual sleep-away boarding camp.

    I have this impression that camp is particularly common among New York area Jewish folks, but that could be a misimpression acquired from listening to This American Life and Allan Sherman.

  • nonPaulogist||

    Fuckin' cosmotards get their wittle feewings hurt?

    City folks certainly do often claim to be superior, and you think the simpletons in the sticks are too stupid to see it. I guess the term "flyover country" is a term of endearment, huh?

  • ||

    How about that Joe Biden?

  • ||

    I wish people would attack and demean suburbanites. They're the worst.

    No kids, huh?

    Seriously, I lve in Motown and would be out of this town in milliseconds if I had children. Straight to the 'burbs I would go. They are safer, cleaner, have far better schools and more responsive local government. The stadia, the museums and concert venues are only 30-45 minutes away.
    When I lived in Dearborn (~100K), I chatted up the mayor at the local grocery store from time to time. I've seen the mayor of Detroit once, surrounded by his taxpayer supplied bodyguards.

    I now live in the city, but those disparaging the 'burbs never takes into account why so many families want to live there.

  • ||

    I think the small town snobbery is more politically acceptable, but the city-snobbery is socially acceptable everywhere.

    Small town people are inundated with your fashion, your television, your news. How many movies are about New York City compared to Wasilla? People from small towns think that everyone else in the country sees them as second class, illiterate hillbillies.

    We praise small town/poor people in our politics because they are overlooked and downplayed in our reality.

    There's a real class envy component of this - a "well we may not have interesting news stories and glitzy culture and excitement and money... but damnit, we must have something, because we're as good as those people."

    I know I've talked to quite a few people from back home who were annoyed at how they felt that "liberals" were equating religious faith with being a dumbass ignorant hick.

    So is the appeal to the anti-intellectual "rural" identity bullshit? Hell yeah it is. But you can't say there isn't an opposite push. Just look at how many news stories there are about New York and LA versus Indianapolis and you'll see where the anti-rural bias is :) They don't come out and say it because all the upper class prefers to ignore their lower class until they are needed for something :)

  • jkp||

    I was going to make a longer statement, but Warren beat me to it:

    "Warren | October 2, 2008, 9:04am | #
    And the steak of non-retarded Chapman articles comes to an ugly end after racking up a grand total of one."

  • jkp||

    It is also my belief that Matt Welch should be fired.

  • ||

    Sleep-away camps are a way for (sub)urban parents to try to give their kids a taste of rural life. Implicitly, these people have bought in to the myth of rural superiority, or at least the desireability of a rural experience.

    In my experience as a counselor, it's only the very rich or very poor who go to camp. The rich by paying for it, the poor as the recipients of charity. That made for some interesting social interactions.

    Trust me, you haven't lived until you've given a flying wedgie to a kid whose parents drive a Bentley.

  • ||

    I have to admit, I am a city person, and a Polticial organizer, and I would much rather knock on someone's door in a trailer park than I would at a suburban mansion.

  • Tim||

    Having been raised in a truly rural area (the hills of WV) and now living in suburbia between DC and Baltimore, I know exactly what Sarah Palin is talking about.

    People up here refer to WV in the most denigrating ways imaginable. They think the only thing my home state is good for is whitewater rafting, skiing, and crafts shows and that the people there are quaint and largely uneducated. I know that rural America isn't full of saints and the cities full of sinners, but the folks in the city put us up as one step away from the movie Deliverance. I can only imagine how NYC and LA look down on WV, Arkansas, Alaska and various other 'flyover states'.

    People in my home town frankly didn't give much thought to 'the big city' but they had a hard time understanding why anyone would move there and put up with crime, bad air, traffic and stress. I moved here to further my career and I dream of the day I can get back to a simpler life.

    I read some of the comments about drugs and pregnancies in rural areas, but I guess the one difference is that while it happens, it isn't ingrained in the culture and not as accepted as a societal norm.

    Gotta go, I have to cling to my guns and religion while fearing people that aren't like me. Anti-rural bias, yeah, it exists... and one candidate has it in bunches.

  • ||

    "I know I've talked to quite a few people from back home"

    Back home? Why don't you live there?

    Many urban dwellers are people who fled the rural/suburban towns they grew up in. It's quite likely that most of the smartest and most talented rural kids leave ASAP, because the hometown has nothing to offer them.

    When someone like Palin criticizes cities, she's criticizing the grown children of rural towns.

  • rhywun||

    those disparaging the 'burbs never takes into account why so many families want to live there



    Sure we do--I just don't personally agree. I grew up in the big, bad inner city. I was glad to do so then and glad now. It's my personal belief that kids are way over-protected and one of the reflections of that is moving them out to the middle of nowhere to "keep them safe". I see my siblings doing that and it drive me nuts. I would not have done very well in that kind of protected environment at all.

  • Tim||

    Back home? Why don't you live there?

    Because I joined the military. As soon as I retire, I intend to. I reside in the DC area, but it isn't 'home'.

    I don't denigrate the people in this area or the area itself. Frankly, I like DC, the museums, the Eastern Shore, Inner Harbor, the B'more Ravens, etc. Lots to do, nice people in my neighborhood, nice coworkers and on and on. Traffic and the cost of living suck, but this is where Uncle Sam put me...

    But when my time is up and I can get back to my hometown, I'm outta here. I am just a small town guy at heart. :)

  • Rose||

    Very interesting topic. I had not realized this. Thanks Reason for publishing awesome articles.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Too late, but for the archive.

    Best pizza in Albuquerque

    http://www.nmgastronome.com/abq/pizza/giovanni.htm

    We have a few good California style joints too.

  • ||

    I'm personally sick of the condenscending "salt of the earth" bullshit Palin has re-ignited about rural and small town people.

    I grew up on a family farm in Central Missouri, population 4. I didn't care about the cities, it was the townies like "Tim" above who were the elitists in my life. (Sorry bud, if you live in a town, you ain't "rural".)

    In fact we used to laugh that every small-town jack-off with a pickup truck thinks they're some kind of farmer. One comparison of the shiny, unscratched bed of their immaculate pickup with the pigshit-encrusted, dented beaters we drove made the point.

    Racism, ignorance, and dishonesty are just as common among us "salts" as they are in any other demographic group. I knew farmers that grew weed to help make ends meet. Not that I would ever do anything like that...ahem.

    The problem now is that a major political party made up of dishonest, greedy assholes from the very metroplises they decry think that they can pander to the egotistical townies among us like "Tim" above to whore a few more votes.

    Don't fall for it.

  • ||

    "Small town people are inundated with your fashion, your television, your news. How many movies are about New York City compared to Wasilla?"

    So big city snobbery is just a recognition of reality while cornfield snobbery is just jealousy?

  • ||

    I moved out because while I appreciate some of their "values" (I am still more likely to overall approve of how some church-goer from my small hometown lives their life than most suburbanites I met in college) I'm far more liberal than most of them in almost every respect socially - ie, libertarian instead of conservative.

    My actor sister thinks I've gone conservative just because I think the liberal arts "follow your dream" stuff is nonsense if you don't have some sort of retirement savings :)

    Got a programming job in a flyover city, bought a house on within driving distance out in the country. I don't know the new community well enough yet to comment on their particular biases :)

  • wickscherrycoke||

    How awful it is that Republicans speak highly of rural "down home" regular folk in contrast to "urban elites." After all, it isn't at all like Democrats speak highly of the virtues of "working families" as opposed to the "rich." Or the "workers" over "bosses," "women and minorities" over "males, "Main Street' over "Wall Street," etc., etc., etc.

  • ||

    So big city snobbery is just a recognition of reality while cornfield snobbery is just jealousy?

    Big city snobbery is implicit in culture due to the big city control of media. Cornfield snobbery is more of a political/counterculture reaction, I guess I would say.

    What does our society value, what is considered "winning" in our culture? Money, status, influence, fame? That's (mostly) on the coasts, in the cities, where the big-time exciting stuff happens. I would argue that small-town snobbery is a reaction to that by those who still feel their lifestyle has value despite what society tells them, and it's picked up enough steam for politicians to use it occasionally before they go back to ignoring the poor folk :)

    When my grandma came back from college, obviously it was a good thing, right? First person in her family to go, set her up for higher income, a better life in general, all that. My great-grandma would yell at her for using "fancy" words like she was better than them.

    You'd be doing people a huge disservice by saying that's all this is, but I think that's part of what drives the snobbery as opposed to just the "well yeah we disagree on how important church is" stuff.

  • ||

    Um, I believe that you started this piece in a terrible way, in order to set up your straw-man. You claim that Palin said "the very best" people come from cornfield country, followed by this - ""We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity and dignity," she declared, quoting the late journalist Westbrook Pegler."

    Since when does "good" mean "the very best"? And what is wring with the idea that small town folk might have better ideas, sometimes, than the Yalies?

  • economist||

    The boozing doesn't sound too bad.

  • ||

    I didn't notice any quotation marks around the sentence following Palin's statement. Personally, I think there's something in urban water that simultaneously shrinks balls and inflates self esteem.

  • ||

    I don't like Palin; I know the only reason she was chosen as McCain's running mate is because she is a woman- and a weak one at that. However, I was not offended by her quote. This argument seemed a bit non sequitur to me. Just because Palin loves people from small towns doesn't necessarily mean that she hates city-dwellers.

  • ||

    I don't think 4 out of 5 Americans live outside rural areas by choice -- they go where the jobs are, of necessity.

    No urban snobbery over the hinterlands? We don't call the cities "flyover country".

    I can think of another reason crime is lower in the countryside -- the potential victims are armed to the teeth, and the bad guys know it.

    And it seems a bit odd for a libertarian writer to compare drug use in various areas as a sign of which area is more or less virtuous. Oh wait, it's a Steve Chapman article.

  • ||

    OK, now go back through the thread. Count the number of times people insult city folk, and count the number of times people insult rural folk.

    Don't give me this "both sides" crap.

  • Warty||

    People pick strange things to hate each other over.

  • Just Plain Brian||

    People pick strange things to hate each other over.



    Them's fightin' words!

  • economist||

    joe,
    So, what's your point? I couldn't really see a tendency one way or another. And there weren't that many insults, at least for a blog.

  • economist||

    Just to up the insult quotient a little
    "Alaska is the biggest welfare state of them all"
    So I guess you'd love it there, huh James. Unless you're a different James from the leftwing troll who's also posting here, in which case I would appreciate you differentiating yourself to avoid confusion.

  • ||

    Oh, Saint Barack, let the heavenly light
    of THE STATE shine down upon us poor bitter
    racist Americans, that we may know thine
    wisdom!

  • ||

    Waste it!
    Waste It!
    WASTE IT!

  • ||

    I also did the "Guy Who Keeps Posting as
    'Barack Obama' post". I'll bet that makes
    you really angry, whoever you are. So angry
    that you'll have to torture me!

  • hayley||

    Palin is completely superficial. She keeps her cool during a debate, sure, but that's because she avoids actually answering any of the questions posed to her. She's working on her image as the small town, relatable politician, when she in fact knows nothing about the economy or foreign affairs. She's only relatable to the "average" American because the average American isn't educated enough to see that she is actually bullshitting her way through her debate. Joe Biden can run circles around her because he's informed and he's been there. She has read (some of) what has happened in the Senate, but she doesn't already know because if it doesn't concern "the great state of Alaska" she's completely ignorant on the matter. Biden is often accused of "lofty" speech, but that's only because the average American doesn't fully understand the inner workings of bills, foreign policy, or the complexity of the economy.

  • ||

    "Re: country life vs. city life: you have a better chance of never having to see your neighbors in the country, which makes it much easier to dispose of prostitutes' corpses. On the other hand, it's much easier to abduct prostitutes in the city. So it's an open question whether city life or country life is better."
    Warty: That is just sick and twisted - if your decent you keep them tied naked to a water bed, and tease they're swollen naughty parts until they tell you that they love you, like normal hard working country folk do.

  • ||

    Being a brit I've gotta say this election is puzzling the sh@t out of me

    It all seems to boil down to this elitist label

    I just checked the Oxford english dictionary

    for elite

    it says

    "a group of people regarded as the best in a particular society or organization"

    so the republicans roll out some one who is clearly isnt elite in any sense of the word

    again

    makes sense if being good at stuff is a bad thing

    It would be great if you lot applied the same logic to the military, healthcare and the police

    like we don't want the navy seals

    they're elite goddamn it!!!!!

    send in a bunch of autistic Thalidomides!!!

    I'll tell you who was elite

    Maggie T the Iron Lady

    working class background

    made it to Oxford Uni

    that would be an "elite" uni in the world top ten

    crossed party lines to legalize homosexuality and abortion

    walked into a conservative party conference held up a copy of Hayek's "The Freedom Constitution" and said "this is what we belive in" then proceeded to pretty much wipe out nationalisation in the UK

    Yep she was damn elite in my book and if I hear another yank call this left wing authoritarin retarded Palin ho "The Iron Lady"
    I'm gonna have to drink some more Glenlivit

  • ||

    The other reason that small towns believe they are more moral is that they have a different set of morals, they have Nationalism pounded into them by country music stations several hours a day. It's called "The Honky Tonk Gap" http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/webcasts/docs/honkytonkgap.pdf

  • ||

    Its that bit about 'social control' i.e. non-state control, that gives the essay away. Reasonites don't care about the state, or violent coercion. They care about any sort of control on unfettered individualism. So for them, small-town mores are just as bad as the government.

  • Al Barger||

    Poor Steve Chapman, and his oh-so-tender sensitivity to being supposedly insulted as a city boy. It takes rather a finely honed sense of victimology to get a denunciation of city folk from what Sarah Palin says. Pride in your local home does not equal a put down of everyone else.

    I don't think Palin or any other advocate of rural living says that we don't have problems with booze or drugs like anyone else.

    However, Chapman does concede the much lower crime rates in the country. That IS a significant point of superiority. I know my few years in the cities got me robbed several times, where my decades back home in the country haven't.

    It's not our best moment when one of ours now and again expresses some blanket hostility to city folks and their ways - but if there was less of big city comedians or Ivy League presidential candidates tempting us by mockery, you probably wouldn't see much of that. But stuff like the unearned mockery of Sarah Palin as an ignorant rube from another planet might understandably generate a bit of resentment coming back from some of us bitter, gun clinging hilljacks.

    Pride is not snobbery or necessarily a putdown of anyone else. Quit yer whining.

  • Al Barger||

    Little known Palin fact:
    FACT: Sarah Palin once won a beauty contest talent competition by killing and skinning a caribou in front of the judges, and making a dress from the pelt, wearing which she proceeded to win the evening gown competition.

    More little known Palin facts that I just made up, and a couple hundred pictures of our girl at
    http://www.morethings.com/images/sarah_palin/sarah_palin-photo_gallery001.htm

  • ||

    "The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."
    -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Copper Beeches; pp. 323, 1892

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes#The_Adventure_of_the_Copper_Beeches

    It would seem that not much has changed...

  • Justen||

    @Al: Pride isn't snobbery, snobbery is snobbery, and Palin has it in droves. There's something about living in a small town, being relatively isolated from the world and current events and insulated from broader social concerns, that tends to create a sense of self-satisfied superiority in stark contrast with any objective measure of one's own worth or importance. I've spent a good amount of time in large cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles as well as in several small towns you've never heard of, and it's more often the small towns where I run into self-centered, self-righteous, proudly ignorant people. It really gets under my skin trying to interact with know-nothing know-it-alls. I should move back to the city :/

  • ||

    I would bet that Wasilla is more urbane than Phoenix

    please steve chapman, stop writing, esp for a supposedly libertarian magazine, at this point it is just utter boredom to see your stuff posted online

  • ||

    hayley:

    i hate to point this out but libertarianism embraces the fact that no one can undestand "the complexity of the economy."
    nor do you want one person to think that they do...markets sort it all out, thats pretty much it...if you think Biden "really gets" the economy, you need medical help

  • Justen||

    Besides Sun City, and not accounting for Sedona, new age hippie nut capitol of the world, Phoenix is by far the most "urbane" city in the southwest. There isn't a whole lot of competition out here. The politics of the state in general are in spite of Phoenix, not rooted in it. At least that was my impression in the time I lived there. The rest of Arizona follows the Texan stereotype but with a particular charismatic religious twist, and I'm pretty sure Sun City is where bitter authoritarians go to die (and run over innocent pedestrians while doped up on prescription drugs).

  • Indian Guy||

    America is the only country where they glorify country bumpkins. In every other country, like India where I'm from, the rural areas are rightly seen as backwaters of poverty, repression, vendettas, etc. In India, it's where the caste system is most repressive. Look at a place like Pakistan, where they just put a rural landlord in the office of the presidency; look at how fucked up they are.

  • JR||

    Indian Guy: Maybe that's because in America, the urban areas are rightly (or wrongly?) seen by many as sewers of poverty, repression, violence,, etc.
    Country bumpkins really don't much exist anymore, at least in the sense of illiterate, ill-socialized population cores in our midst. Yeah, there are people with hick accents, who sound stupid to "smart" people from elsewhere, but you underestimate them at your own risk.

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