Hillary Clinton’s Trickle-Down America

After a long, bruising career in public life, Hillary Clinton deserves a respite. Yet the erstwhile Democratic presidential nominee finds herself in the news again, having recently observed to an audience in Mumbai, India, that while she may have lost the 2016 election, she won, decisively, “the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.” In itself, this is hardly cause for offense. Clinton is, so far, merely stating a fact. But she went on to offer a moral distinction between her supporters and Donald Trump’s, which has proven more polarizing: “I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards.”

What’s striking about Clinton’s remarks is that she seems to be connecting the wealth of the places she won to the character of the people living in them. Granted, this is hardly the first time someone has posited that America’s richer regions are more virtuous or praiseworthy than its poorer regions. Such attitudes have long been commonplace among the residents of richer regions. Most of the time, though, politicians have eschewed expressing such sentiments publicly, presumably out of a desire to build broader coalitions. Clinton’s remarks could be a sign that she’s done with politics, and that she’s eager to tell the truth as she sees it. Which is fair enough.

But is she right to suggest that wealthy blue metros are more virtuous than the rest of the country, where local economies have been, until recently, stagnant by comparison? Consider a different framing, equally reductive in its own way, but which may illuminate some of the flaws in this moral logic.

Over the past 40 or so years, the U.S. has been fragmenting into two parallel societies, which I’ll call Trickle-Down America and Stagnant America. Each one looks upon the other with suspicion and hostility. Trickle-Down America is the America of our biggest metropolitan areas, and it is defined by comparatively high levels of density, diversity, and economic inequality. Importantly, the richest people in Trickle-Down America are typically white, while the service-sector workers who enable them to worker longer hours are disproportionately brown and black. Stagnant America can be found in rural regions, small cities and towns, and outer suburbs across the country. This America is largely white and relatively equal, though it too is scarred by poverty, particularly among Hispanics and blacks. America’s most and least …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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