American Decline

A divided empire: what the urban-rural split means for the future of America

By David Uberti, The Guardian

Cities have long been the backbone of the Democratic party, and rural regions the heartland of Republicanism – yet Donald Trump’s election has exposed these divides like never before. Will US metropolises increasingly turn into city-states?

Sitting in a downtown Cleveland coffee shop in early December, Julie Goulis is still in shock. “Some of the soul-searching I’ve been doing after the election has been about how I can understand people outside of my bubble,” she tells me. “I was so ashamed Ohio went for Trump.”

Like many US cities, Cleveland is overwhelmingly progressive in its politics and traditionally elects Democrats at all levels of government, despite hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention. But partisan divisions in the United States increasingly correlate with geographic differences, leaving many cities like Cleveland as liberal bubbles distinct from the vast conservative American hinterland. The looming inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump has left many city dwellers grappling with just how distant much of their country seems.

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