Yet it remains the best route to America’s heartland, populated by voters whose moods elude most pundits in this election cycle. These are people disconnected from New York’s cosmopolitan pace or Washington’s political elites. They value small-town connections to family, community and livelihoods; they rarely consider moving, despite a lack of opportunity.
Here's what she didn't mention: 80% of Americans live in urban areas. Quoting from an article on the 2010 census:
In 2010, a total of 80.7 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, up from 79 percent in 2000. Conversely, 19.3 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2010, down from 21 percent in 2000. At the same time, the population of urban areas grew by 12.1 percent, much faster than the country's growth rate of 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.
So, contrary to her narrative, these people are moving -- or, rather, the people she's interviewing don't, for obvious reasons, represent the entire historic populations of their towns.
The idea comes down from Jefferson, the idea that the farmer is the true, unspoiled American that the rest of us should be inspired by. It's a silly idea, and has been silly from Jefferson to today. When pundits aren't laying down the law based on the people they know in the big coastal cities, they vacillate between sneering at everybody else and praising the people who lead the lives they don't understand. (Helloo, David Brooks.)
Smalltown, USA still exists, and people live there and enjoy it. But it's not the real America, any more than New Hampshire is real America. It's an America, but one that should be neither exalted nor despised. Most of us live in the cities, and we've chosen to do so. We're real, whether we're in Indianapolis or Charlotte or, yes, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York.