Metro vs. Retro


One of the more interesting ad campaigns in recent memory is currently unfolding in national newspapers. Under the rubric of Metro vs. Retro, the ads pose, say, The Dixie Chicks vs. Hank Williams III, Michael Moore vs. Mel Gibson, Joycelyn Elders vs. Laura Schlessinger, etc.

In today's Washingon Post, among the facts listed in an ad were that 60 percent of Retros (i.e., religious Americans in less-urbanized areas) believed the Bible was the literal word of God. Amazingly (to me, anyway) was that 44 percent of Metros (religiously less observant, urbanized Americans) felt the same way.

The Metro vs. Retro dichotomy, a variation on the blue state/red state conception, is at the heart of the new book The Great Divide, which can be sampled here. Written by University of Phoenix head John Sperling and several others, it is an explicit attempt to rejuvenate the Democratic Party and give it an electoral majority by focusing on urban and suburban Americans. (Full disclosure: I know Sperling, who I interviewed for a 1997 story on ballot intiatives aimed at changing drug laws, and one of his co-authors, Samuel George, who spearheaded those and other initiative campaigns.)

I've only skimmed the online sample chapter and, unsurprisingly, it's a fiercely partisan book. I don't know that I'll find it convincing in either its analysis or its policy recommendations, but the chapter does include this bit that warms the cockles of my heart:

The authors of this book are dedicated to the Enlightenment principles of rational discourse,the application of logic,and the scientific method.The data and arguments we present fol-
low these principles.As for politics, we are committed to the separation of church and state,the rule of law, and a political culture of civility and tolerance,all of which are necessary for a healthy democracy.

Whole chapter here.

Update: We've been having server problems; otherwise I would have corrected the Hank Williams misfire a couple of hours back. Yes, it's Bocephus, aka Junior, aka "Are You Ready for Some Football," who's Retro, not HWIII, who's a little bit country, a little bit Metro (e.g., "Are You Ready for Some Foosball?"?)