Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Dividing America: Evidence #2

The Pew Research Center notes that the United States is undergoing two simultaneous demographic changes: the white majority is soon to become a white minority and the white majority that does exist is becoming increasingly gray.

The Changing Face of America, 1965-2065

What this means is that there is an increasing cultural divide growing in the United States. Since the older generation is generally Republican, it is losing ground to minorities and the young who are typically not only Democrat, but of the liberal sway. Or as the Pew Research describes it: "more nonwhite, more liberal, more secular, and more immigrant- and LGBT-friendly, and its [Democratic] base increasingly views America's new diversity as a prized asset." Still this stream toward the nonwhite minority may not necessarily be the agent of social change as anticipated by the authors, as evidenced by the fact that two of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination are Hispanic: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

As I noted in my first post on this topic (link), the United States is "on the cusp of a political showdown and its outcome will determine how the future America will be defined: its values, [and] its social norms..." Counted among this is the changing social norm in regards to homosexuality, and every other nuance of non-monogamous heterosexuality, that is increasingly becoming normalized. LGBT rights are a watershed issue among Americans, which polarizes people as to acceptance. Often religion plays an important role here, as many Christian Americans reject homosexuality and LGBT sexuality or gender identity on Biblical grounds, whereas the nonreligious often give wholesale support. There is little to negotiate here.

What is overlooked by the Pew Research Center as a factor of exasperating the social and cultural division is the urban-rural divide. As the Los Angeles Times recently (and correctly) pointed out "[m]ost hot-button issues — deficit spending, defense, same-sex marriage, amnesty, affirmative action, gun control, and abortion — break along rural or urban lines." Hmm, I can't think of any issues where there might be agreement, except perhaps concerns over the mal-distribution of wealth and the increasing difficulty in finding decent employment. But as the article goes on to point out, the differences are cultural and not easily bridged. This is in part because of the differentiation in values generated by the division into Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft paradigms, as I have examined previously. This is a difference that will not visit compromise, but rather a winner-take-all outcome. While not addressing the issue within that same context, the author of the Los Angeles Times article offers a similar conclusion when he writes:

The 21st century may at last see the end of a venerable consensus that rural citizens prizing liberty and freedom provide a necessary audit on the dependent urbanites. We have left for good the world of Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and entered the age of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — and likely with worse to come.

Worse, as in a further distancing between what has increasingly become two Americas. And who will "win" this battle for the new America? I put my money on the urbanites, as cities gain increasing power, wealth, and relevance in our developing post-industrial reality. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised that we see a rise in the neo-city-state in our post-modern (hence, post-national) world.


And that will leave us rural dwellers, hicks all, in the backward hinterlands. What is perceived by urban dwellers as modernity will have passed us by, along with our political voices and economic relevance.

Keep tuned, more evidence to be shared.

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Emphatic language can be couched in kind words. Let's all be adults here and use our words constructively.