Thursday, September 4, 2008

What, Exactly, is the Real America?

Paul Krugman writes,

"Today’s America is an overwhelmingly urban/suburban nation, in which a majority of the population lives in metropolitan areas with more than a million people. It’s ethnically and culturally diverse. Mercer County — which is a lot more than Princeton, which I admit is a bit unreal — IS what America looks like today. And a fine nation it is."

He's right on the facts. He responded to comments that although Princeton Hospital (from where Krugman recently blogged) may be racially diverse, the rest of the nation isn't.

Those comments were also right on the facts.

Krugman objected to the claim that small-town America is the "real America." In election season, a lot of people get attention as the "real America." Blue-collar workers, single moms, elderly people who suffer from disease, schoolchildren who grow up on crime-ridden streets, etc. Politicians make promises for cheap.

What's the real America? It's where you live and work. So small-town America is just as much "real" as the teeming, multiracial streets of Manhattan. Paul lives near Princeton, so for him, that's the real America. When we choose where to live, we're choosing not the real America, but our part of a bigger reality.

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