Shankar V: Does Geography Shape Your Ideology?
So, I heard this on the radio yesterday, did you?
The fine folks at UVA have noticed that when people move, they tend to move to areas that vote the same as they do. The conclusion is that living someplace affects your political ideology causally. So if you move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, you will, over time, drift to the political right. If you move to San Francisco, you’ll drift to the political left.
I disagree with their conclusion, but what their research shows falls neatly into one of my taxonomies of culture, (some day I’ll get a book out of it, but not today):
Conservatives and Liberals/Progressives are alike in one key way: they are both seeking to establish their utopian visions on the planet. Conservatives think and act like they live in a small rural town; Liberals think and act like they live in an urban metropolis. As both groups seek out places to live out their preferred social patterns, they value real estate differently.
Here in Nashville, the two communities most easily identified are Franklin (the “greatest small town in America”) and East Nashville (“like Brooklyn, but in Nashville”).
Franklin has 4 Starbuck’s and 9 Sonics, and bosts a picture-perfect restored downtown. It also has more Republicans per-capita than anyplace else in the state of Tennessee. It also has a school system that wins national awards on a regular basis.
East Nashville has a artisanal coffee shop ($9 vanilla-bourbon latte anyone?); an artisanal butcher, two microbreweries and a dog park. It’s great place to move if you want to live in the city and have a place to walk your dog.
My hunch is that people move to Franklin if they want an idyllic suburban lifestyle, and they move to East Nashville if they want a urban bohemian lifestyle. But thats not to say there aren’t urban conservatives in East Nashville, or suburban democrats in Franklin.
Do you agree? Would you vote more liberal if you live downtown? More conservative if you lived in the suburbs?