The Closing of the Republican Mind – by Thomas B. Edsall
There’s a whole lot of ways to slice and dice the changes in America and Western society as a whole over the last decades, our devolution into “values tribes”. Many observations and theories to marinate on. I think this piece presents a nice cross section of some of those ideas.
I think there’s something to this idea of “somewhere” people vs. “anywhere” people:
Anywhere folks, according to Goodhart, who is himself a member of the anywhere class(though writing from the perspective of the United Kingdom) “dominate our culture and society” armed with college and advanced degrees:
Such people have portable “achieved” identities, based on educational and career success which makes them generally comfortable and confident with new places and people.
The anywhere voter values “autonomy, mobility and novelty” while giving much lower priority to group identity, tradition and patriotic expression. They view globalization, immigration, self-realization and meritocracy as positive concepts.
Somewhere voters, in Goodhart’s description, are
more rooted and have “ascribed” identities — Scottish farmer, working class Geordie, Cornish housewife — based on group belonging and particular places, which is why they find rapid change more unsettling. One core group of Somewheres have been the so-called ‘left behind’ – mainly older white working class men with little education.
Most are neither bigots nor xenophobes, according to Goodhart, and they generally accept the liberalization of “attitudes to race, gender and sexuality,” but this acceptance has
been more selective and tentative, and has not extended to enthusiasm for mass immigration or European integration.
This is certainly more helpful and thoughtful than David Brooks’ boiling down the resentments of the white lower classes to Italian luncheon meats, not kidding. He literally called the editorial “How We Are Ruining America” and cited an uneducated friend who was intimidated by the words soppressata and capicollo.
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
What utter twaddle.