United States is a huge country. That and favorable conditions led to an early and advanced car culture (Canada, Russia, China, Brazil had various restrictions stifling that, ranging from permafrost to outright ban on private property). The love for cars and the infrastructure that makes it possible has been a source of national pride for decades and brought envious glances from around the world. As much as smaller vehicles make sense in urban areas, anybody who has been to rural U.S. would immediately appreciate the benefits of increased horsepower and vehicles whose size would be considered military grade elsewhere in the Western world. When you take into account that most Americans lost their virginity inside cars, the psychological obsession with motor vehicles begins to make sense. It's no wonder that road trips hold a special place in the national consciousness and that advertisements for cars overly utilize freedom and sex appeal compared to how cars are marketed elsewhere (for more on this, check out advertising guru Clotaire Rapaille's Culture Code).
However, the unfortunate side effect of Eisenhower administration's emulation of Germany's Autobahn (rather than large scale development of high speed public transit as in France or Japan) also allowed the whites to not live together with non-whites. Non-whites (and the poor in general) were subsequently never fully integrated into the national fabric since those better off could now move away from the poor into suburbia. Unlike the Soviets ( who attempted national integration with their colonial subjects through mass education) or the British/French (who were geographically separated from non-white subjects), white Americans found a way to solve their disinterest of getting along through mass movements into the suburbs for which there was plenty of space for.
It has been common knowledge for decades now among social policy experts that a mixing of different classes is good for society as a whole. For instance, over a third of Holland's people live in affordable public housing since once you qualify to move in, they don't kick you out if your income greatly increases. Many professionals of course remain to take advantage of the savings. Class polarization along geographic lines is thus greatly reduced. In United States, the subsidies to highways (and the resulting creation of suburbia) have done more than just rot inner cities, deteriorate food quality, and create fertile ground for South Africa-esque gated communities. They have set the ground for inevitable reversal of suburbias becoming slums due to the sheer economic and logistical inefficiencies of suburban construction in general.
Interestingly enough, the two party system was preserved as rural whites and the remaining urban whites (often cynically using racial politics to bolster electoral numbers and influence) were balanced numerically. However, in the last 20 years a number of the following factors began to create an imbalance:
1) More than half of people now living in urban areas than rural ones
2) More people deciding to remain single and not having children (diminishing appeal of creating a suburban nest
3) Increase in the amount of people renting rather than trying to buy a home (the "American dream" so far has been achieved by only 1/3 of the population with a third flat out rejecting it for urban living and a third either desperately trying or slowly converting to the urban dream. The recent housing bubble and collapse is by far the best evidence of this. It will hopefully create a proper national attitude readjustment concerning what dream to pursue and what mode of living to support and encourage with laws, regulations, and incentives. People who rent are increasingly seen as at least co-equal to home owners by politicians)
4) Increase in secularization of United States that leads to a view of small town residents as backward religionists
5) Globalization and de-industrialization of United States leading to reduction of opportunities for rural areas and increase in opportunities in Urban hubs
6) Rapid increase in college access (for at least majority of the whites) creating a stronger educated class that abhors small towns and where educated individuals try to move out.
Considering that the population of this country doubled over half a century, the suburbs had to expand or at least rise in price. The demand from educated whites could not be readily satisfied due to sheer physical and financial logistics.This of course resulted in white migrations into the Urban areas once again resulting in gradual change in urban political leadership (notice NYC under republican mayors), increase in infrastructure improvements for new migrants due to wealthier tax base, and corresponding millitarization of police. The drop in crime in major urban areas in last 15 years is not due to some role model efforts of a mean spirited former mayor and cracking down on squeegee men but by outright displacement of the poor from the urban areas.
1) could tolerate living next to minorities more than their more timid white counterparts from suburbia due to greater familiarity of the landscape
2) many were physiologically (ENFP, ESTP, ENTP psychological types most likely predominate the party scene at the edges of white settlements in Brooklyn) understimulated and were more free of the bonds of religion/tradition/ignorance
The trend has interesting political implications. The political center rather than being split like before will move to the cities. It is unlikely that rural racist/religious will flip to being democrat again as in the 50s. The increase in financial power of the cities and the influx of educated whites into the Democratic party creates a Democratic party that keeps growing stronger with time as the wealthiest 20-30% of population (who haven't fled abroad in search of employment) occupy what was once "inner cities". In effect, around some major cities the suburbia has moved into them. Long Island suburbia is thus creeping westward. Some cities perceived as unsalvagable like Detroit will be allowed to die and become decrepid shells like many Soviet cities now rotting in Siberia. Suburbia will not disappear of course and those too far away from cities will transform it into a more militarized gated community structure. Rise in gated communities in last 20 years illustrates this.
A) Although we've seen rather pathetic recent attempts by the Republican party to re-assess their relationship with minorities, it is not impossible that they will transform themselves into a multi-ethnic political party years in the future and structure themselves more along economic populism. This would allow them to dominate numerically as white population declines below 50% in the 2020s and so on. If they do not do so then they will continue losing national election after election.
B) The uneducated/rural/religious
This is an open ended scenario that sees partial disintegration of Republican rural/suburban political power through loss of voters to Democrats, Libertarians, crypto-Fascist conservatives and conceivably some Hispanic-black coalition that tries hard to attract some poor rural whites with populism. Many midwestern states will continue Republican dominance unchanged and would resort to rabid state's rights calls to insulate themselves from the influence of the Democratic center. However, without significant numbers in Congress, the efforts of Republican state governments will not go as far as hoped. No longer would they be able to rally rural whites against the cities as the cities will become increasingly white and wealthy. It is possible that libertarian ideology would prevail by default in large swaths of rural areas due to its non-redistributive nature, dog eat dog survivalist ethic, and thus potential to reduce public conflict (even while further alienating ethnic groups from one another). Private money from cities would then have unhindered influence.
(Sidenote: the above scenarios assume there is no national break up, constitutional reorganization, or civil violence. This article was originally written in May 2009 and things have deteriorated dramatically since then. As mentioned above, although rural Republicans are not likely to switch to Democratic party, it is possible that psychological association of executive branch with steep downward economic spiral will lead urban whites to GOP in 2010 elections. Although I continue to believe that democratic majority will be strengthened through election of more progressives, even if urban voters flock to GOP in the next congressional round, the Palin crypto-fascist faction should still split the GOP allowing continuation of Democratic national center.)
Solutions to this are few and they have to be relatively radical:
Solutions to this are few and they have to be relatively radical:
1) Rapid shedding of our imperial ambitions and commitments abroad to save money to dump into infrastructure rather than acceleration of Soviet type decline and rot due to the executive being browbeat by military leadership
2) Utilizing the Internet to augment education ( and thus bypass some of the gridlock for education reform) to provide Hispanic and black children a nationally standardized pre-K to High School materials that can be taught at home
3) Voting restructuring to allow a more proportional representation in congress. Our government is too weak and divided to make major changes even under a committed intellectual like Obama. Hopefully, he isn't our version of Tony Blair. His stand on Afghanistan tomorrow will reveal a lot about the nature of his character. Major surge in Afghanistan will demonstrate a fundamentally weak character and the specifics of the possible surge will show the current strength and ideological orientation [nationalist/internationalist] of military leadership
Cuba and Brazil) provide valuable information as to what can occur.