In Defense of Coastal Elites

Philadelphia, PA (cc photo by cptspock)

Philadelphia, PA (cc photo by cptspock)

I liked this bit near the end of Christopher Hitchens’ review of Matt Continett’s Sarah Palin book:

The United States has to stand or fall by being the preeminent nation of science, modernity, technology, and higher education. Some of these needful phenomena, for historical reasons, will just happen to concentrate in big cities and in secular institutions and even—yes—on the dreaded East Coast.

Quite so. Cultural/political tensions between metropolitan types and provincial types are a perennial feature of politics. But actually one of the nice things about the United States is that it’s very big and spread out and we don’t have an overweening “main city” in the manner of Paris. But as a nation we’re long past the point when our prosperity depended primarily on the productivity of our agriculture and the vast extent of our rural land. The research universities and major business enterprises that our the foundation of our way of life are, overwhelmingly, in major metropolitan areas. Not because there’s anything wrong with the people of rural Alaska, but because that’s how the world works. The idea of making dislike of metropolitan American (or perhaps all of metropolitan America except Houston) the basis of your approach to governing is pretty nuts.