Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Nov 20: Liberal cities, conservative countryside:

People who live in cities tend to be more liberal than those who live in the country. This pattern is consistent across time, regions, and cultures. There must be a reason.  That’s our discussion topic for November 20

Most of the articles I’ve found (predictably) are written by people who live in cities so they tend to have a liberal’s view of the difference, rather than a conservative’s view, or a neutral view.  But I’ve managed to find a few that are balanced and one good one from the conservative side that made some new and thought-provoking arguments.

From this Quora user

The dichotomy of “liberty” (freedom to affect vs. freedom to not be affected) as the cornerstone of American culture can be manifested physically:

In lower population density, you have more room to swing a bat without hitting someone, and so you support conservatism: freedom to swing a bat.

In higher population density, you have less room to swing a bat without hitting someone, and so you support liberalism: freedom to prevent anyone from swinging bats at you.


This article from Forbes provides a conservative explanation.

…people who live in cities are relatively insulated from how difficult and challenging it can be to produce the food, energy, equipment, devices, etc., that comprise the affluence that urbanites enjoy

This article  “6 Big Differences That Turn City Dwellers Into Liberals”  is from Their articles tend to be pretty rude, but some of them manage to be both rude and thought-provoking.

The Impact Of Good Government Is Easier To See

In the country 

We’ve all heard how mostly rural red states eat up more federal tax money than those liberal-elite blue states, and it’s true. But while you might get a government check every month, when you live out in the country local government services are so far away they’re not practical to access. Country culture emphasizes self-reliance….

But in the city …

Local government maintains your water supply and sewers, removes your trash, cleans your sidewalks, maintains the roads that an armada of cars will drive on everyday — basically, stuff an individual can’t take care of themselves….

Article about the significance of the urban/rural divide in the last election.

Tale of Urban and Rural

…in “crowded places” – or, more generally, in metropolitan as opposed to non-metropolitan areas – there’s a wide range of things we might feel differently about. The need to regulate people’s behavior, for instance: It doesn’t matter as much if your neighbor chooses to play loud music – or shoot off his guns – if your neighbor lives five miles away instead of in an apartment directly underneath yours. Scholars of state formation, such as Francis Fukuyama, have shown that differences in community size have a great deal to do with the historical development of governance mechanisms: “States” as we know them only come into being once population density reaches a point where not everyone can essentially know everyone else and social mechanisms thereby work to keep communal behavior in check

Future orientation for people in more populated areas (article, original paper).

Why cities lean Democratic–with some good maps. Another article from the same site on the same topic.

Some discussion in a Reddit thread

US Cities are becoming bigger, wealthier and more liberal

Why conservatives see rural America as the real America

A contrasting personal view

Conservative and liberal preferences


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