The Synthetic States of America

The interesting thing about sundry rightwingers branding increasing swathes of the United States as either “unreal” or “un-American” is that I think there’s a real honesty about this. Progressives are prone to becoming upset about things that happen in our country, with people sometimes letting this boil over into hysteria and firm vows to flee to Canada. But to conservatives, it’s actually integral to their conception of the United States that it be governed by conservatives. A period of progressive political power would mean not that America had erred, but that America had somehow ceased to be America.

Mark Steyn wrote the other day that “With a few exceptions (such as Vermont), ‘blue states’ mostly turn out to be red states with a couple of big blue cities (Pennsylvania, for example, or even California).” But what does this mean? Illinois isn’t a blue state if you don’t count Chicago? New York’s not a blue state if you don’t count New York? But of course Illinois isn’t Illinois without Chicago nor is New York, New York without New York. And mutadis mutandis for the entire United States of America. The country would not be the same country without its great cities and their suburbs. To say that this hypothetical US of Ruralia constitutes the “real” country makes no more sense than to pretend that the country is “really” a small island city-state that happens to be connected to some great wild beyond.