Save the American Small Town?

A view of North Main Street on a gray Midwestern day in the small town of Hubbard, Ohio.

“Well I was born in a small town, And I can breathe in a small town”

John Mellencamp

“There is only one good thing about small town, You know that you want to get out”

Lou Reed

America is a vast landscape, both in its geographic expanse and its demographic diversity. But if there’s one place in which, culturally speaking, the signifying torch of “America” still burns brightest, it’s in the small town. Not a single small town, of course, but the thousands upon thousands of Mayberrys that dot the American landscape — from the oldest New England settlements, to the Midwestern corn baskets, to the Southern white-picket fence farmsteads, to the West-Coast logging villages.

If you grew up in a heathen-infested big city like New York, Boston, or (gasp!) San Francisco, then you likely can’t appreciate the potent brew of aw-shucks Americanness that supposedly streams in the blood of every red-white-and-blue hayseed. Being from a small town is like being born with microscopic Lee Greenwood midichlorians in your circulatory system; it’s an instant indicator of authentic Americana. In much of the popular imagination, a small-town provenance means you’re from — in the infamous words of a former red-state governor and notorious airhead — the “Real America.”

Or so goes the popular myth. But if small-town America is the “Real America,” then Real America is in serious decline. The American small town ain’t what it used to be, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

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Why Gender Identity Gives American Conservatives Headaches

I get it: lots of things seem to be black and white, but , believe it or not, the color gray does exists, people!

Lots of things seem to be black and white, but, believe it or not, the color gray does exist, people!

It must be downright maddening when things that you perceive to be so straightforward, so intuitively obvious in their apparent “naturalness” instead turn out to be way more complicated and multifaceted than that you could ever imagine.

Things like gender. I mean, “gender” is a fairly black-and-white concept, no? There’s boys and there’s girls, right? Well, it turns out there’s actually way more to the concept of gender than mere “male” and “female.” This has always been the case historically. But Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, Batman! For some cultural conservatives, the idea that “gender” isn’t a cut-and-dry, black-and-white (insert-other-hackneyed-phrase) concept is an injustice that will not stand, man!

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