How distance fuels the partisan, poor vs. rich divide

I really do try to see where the other side is coming from. I swear before God and four other white men I do.

But then I read stuff like this and I… *throws up hands, stomps out of the room, returns a little later to finish this post*

why some people are poorFrom the Washington Post, via a Pew Research poll, last week:

More than three quarters of conservative Americans – those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups – agree that “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything.” Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor “have hard lives.”

I need these people to have ALL the seats. The first part of Pew’s political survey poll was on political polarization (headline: Conservatives hate liberals more than liberals hate conservatives, but liberals do their share of hating), but the poll also included this telling tidbit:

If they could choose anywhere to live, three-quarters of consistent conservatives prefer a community where “the houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away.” The preferences of consistent liberals are almost the exact inverse, with 77% saying they’d chose to live where “the houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores, and restaurants are within walking distance.”

It is hard not to reduce conservatives and liberals to trite stereotypes, but stereotypes persist because they have just a tanch (you read that correctly) of truth in them.

walkable communitiesThis ugly divorce from reality that too many conservatives have when it comes to the poor is because they really can’t/don’t want to see the poor. They want a world where the poor don’t exist, where lives are lived in isolation, devoid of context and connection and the complication that comes from living in community. (This post brought to you by the letter C.) And thanks to partisan strongholds, they often can create municipal school districts worlds where they don’t have to be bothered with the people lucky enough to have it so easy being broke.

But seriously, this makes me sad. And it illustrates the urban-bike-lane-front-porch-mixed-use-high-density-maybe-messy vs. suburban-we-don’t-even-have-sidewalks-out-here-because-don’t-come-over-no-eye-contact-sterile-safe tension.

And it explains why the conservative world view often feels so otherworldly to me. Because it is.

We do not want the same world.

I’m not sure how this story could possibly end well.


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