Blue Arrogance

At the Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin exposes the “arrogance of Blue America,” expressed in talk of Blue State secession and contempt for Red State Trump country. According to Kotkin, “The blue bourgeoisie’s self-celebration rests on multiple misunderstandings of geography, demography, and economics. To be sure, the deep blue cites are vitally important but it’s increasingly red states, and regions, that provide critical opportunities for upward mobility for middle- and working-class families.”

Blue Staters boast that “ten largest metropolitan economies represents over one-third of the national GDP.” But, outside New York City, “the other nine largest metropolitan economies are . . . slightly more suburban than the national major metropolitan area average, with 86 percent of their residents inhabiting suburban and exurban areas. In some of our most dynamic urban regions, such as Phoenix, virtually no part of the region can be made to fit into a Manhattan-, Brooklyn-, or even San Francisco-style definition of urbanity. Since 2010 more than 80 percent of all new jobs in our 53 leading metropolitan regions have been in suburban locations. The San Jose area, the epicenter of the ‘new economy,’ may be congested but it is not traditionally urban—most people there live in single-family houses, and barely 5 percent of commuters take transit. Want to find dense urbanity in San Jose? You’ll miss it if you drive for more than 10 minutes.”

Even in the Bluest of Blue areas, the center of innovation is often outside urban areas: “even in the ultra-blue Bay Area, the suburban Valley’s tech and STEM worker population per capita is twice that of San Francisco. In southern California, suburban Orange County has over 30 percent more STEM workers per capita than far more urban Los Angeles. . . . Seattle’s suburban Bellevue and Redmond are home to substantial IT operations, including the large Microsoft headquarters facility. Much of Portland’s Silicon Forest is located in suburban Washington County.”

Red States are not full of ignorant, uneducated yahoos. In fact, Red State manufacturers employ most of our STEM workers and engineers. The industries of the American heartland (agriculture, energy) are innovative, increasingly productive, and account for much of America’s export trade: “In 2015, the U.S. exported $2.23 trillion worth of goods and services combined. Of the total, only $716.4 billion, or about a third, consisted of services. In contrast, manufactured goods accounted for 50 percent of all exports. Intellectual property payments, like royalties to Silicon Valley tech companies and entrepreneurs, amounted to $126.5 billion—just 18 percent of service exports and less than 6 percent of total exports of goods and services combined, barely even with agriculture.”

Blue State “oikophobia” is, in short, no more defensible than its Red State equivalent.

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