Monday, May 8, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Why Rural Communities Vote Republican

I had been wondering why so many in the non-populous states voted for Trump.

The idea that they are all ignorant or stupid seemed a little to facile for me.

Then I heard an article on NPR, about the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic has actually spread faster among rural communities.

The reason, interestingly enough, is that even though there are fewer people per square mile, the people have a stronger interpersonal network.

This interpersonal network allows them to spread information quickly (as well as drugs)

I extrapolated this article to the concept of government assistance.

If people who live in cities have a weaker interpersonal network, then by necessity, they will need a stronger social safety net.

People in rural communities don’t see the need for a government social safety net, because they have one built in.

Example: If your neighbor two miles down the road needs help fixing his fence, you go help him.

In the city, if your next door neighbor is 83 years old and needs food, you will never know and even less likely, care.

So, this may be why rural areas are more Republican, and see the government sponsored social safety programs as ineffective and unnecessary.  They do not understand the breakdown of social interaction in cities. 

We always assume that the more people in a given area relates to a stronger interpersonal connection, but rather the converse is true. 

Example, go to Manhattan or Tokyo.  Millions of people.  No one looks another in the eye.  To make connection is exposure to potential threat.

These are just ideas, but they invite further thought and research.

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