Letter: Urban/Rural Values

Letter to the Editor

Donald Trump will be a one-term president because of his lifelong resentment and hostility toward urban values of respect for multiculturalism and social innovativeness. 

He has performed poorly in institutions associated with urban density, notably universities, as evidenced by his threat to sue any school that disclosed his grades. He continually receives low marks from leading metropolitan newspapers for his business practices and his performance as president. The mayors of the 50 most economically productive U.S. cities have criticized his tax, healthcare and immigration policies. His overt hostility to “elites” (i.e., well-educated urbanites, aka “socialists,”) has endeared him to low-educated Whites in rural areas but rural Whites comprise only 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. 

The 50 most productive metropolitan areas of the U.S. (out of 384) generate 60 percent of the nation’s wealth. The average metropolitan area worker generates 50 percent more income than the average rural worker. This is because dense agglomerations of highly educated people generate more innovation and greater productivity growth than less populous working populations. But denser agglomerations of highly educated people generate more social conflicts, which lead to more social regulations to maintain tranquility than are needed in rural areas. Respect for multiculturalism and social innovativeness are necessary core values for high-earning cities. 

President Trump and his rural supporters have gleefully used the powers of the presidency to promote rural values of gun ownership, Christian religiosity, patriarchy, xenophobia and libertarianism, to tax the endowments of leading universities, to force hundreds of government scientists to leave their jobs, to declare major urban newspapers “the enemy of the people,” to bypass U.S. State Department experts in negotiating international agreements, and to roll back civil rights and environmental regulations. The cumulative negative impacts of this dismantling of urban-derived social regulations on U.S. economic productivity has galvanized the urban movers and shakers. Last week’s agreement by 145 corporate CEOs to support increased restrictions on the sale of guns is an example. Last week’s special election in North Carolina reflects growing antipathy to Trump/Republicans among well-educated suburbanites. His shrinking base and alienation of this nation’s most important wealth generators doom his re-election prospects.

William McCarthy