In the course of normal holiday cheer, the conversation turned inevitably to sightings of swastikas and confederate flags in upstate NY. I was horrified, of course – and even more so when my friend who travels there frequently said, “but you live in the bubble.” According to the bubble meme, we urban dwellers live in a happy bubble, but the “real world” is out there shooting deer, refusing to bake for gay weddings, and attending Trump rallies. We city folks are clueless.
Let’s look at the evidence
The US population looks like a trump rally
Well, not exactly. New York far more accurately reflects the demographics of the rest of the planet than a Trump rally does. The average age of the world citizen is 28 – Trump supporters? More like 68. The world is 60% Asian, 14% African, 3% northern European – that’s fairly close to NYC distributions. Trump rallies? The combined “ethnic” categories don’t even crack the double digits.
In fact, the U.S. as a whole is more like the world than you may think. 81% of US citizens under age 17 are not white. Who’s living in a bubble? You be the judge.
Which church do you go to?
In Trumpland, this is a valid question as the choices are slim. In New York, no one asks that because the answer for more than half of the population is “ummmm…you mean temple? Mosque? Cathedral? None of the above?” Again, New York is with the world and Trumpland is living in a bubble of sameness. In Albania the four main religions are Islam, Bektashi, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox and you don’t hear Albanians strutting around declaring “this is a Bektashi country”.
America is rural
Well, Trump voters certainly are. What about the world? Again, New York is closer to modern global reality. Out where the deer and the antelope play, it’s one person per 20 square miles. That’s not how most of us live. For People of Earth, life is lived in somewhat closer proximity.
The Past Was Better
A deep seated regret and nostalgia for a mythical golden age exists in Trumpland. The past was better, and we need to throw the country in reverse to get back there. Not in NYC.
Change is the only thing stable about New York. We have taken in waves of people from every culture on earth. Architecture changes, rents rise, the city expands to cross rivers and boundaries, and there is still room for all. New York, like the world, will change in ways that can’t be imagined – but, like the world, we won’t be going backwards.
What Brain Drain?
Big urban centers like New York City attract the young, educated, and ambitious. They come from all over the world. Sure, residents might complain about gentrification and rising rents, but that’s the price of attracting bright young sparks. New arrivals bring new ideas, new clubs and bars and eating habits, and new solutions to old problems. They need variety, street fairs, zip lines on Park Avenue, and gay weddings. So if you look at NYC and you see a filmy barrier between yourself and Trumpland, it’s time to figure out which side of the bubble you are on. It’s not New York that’s inside a small, overheated, homogeneous space with a carefully controlled atmosphere.
It’s the Economy, Stupid!
In New York, the economy is booming. Wall street is gearing up for our next big crash, bartenders are prepping for their next audition, tour guides are needed in Times Square, and there are a ton of new, strange, specialized jobs that you can train for. Even bicycle messengers are making a comeback, thanks to Capsule. New York has strong connections to the rest of the world, and most people who work in a NYC office have to understand time zones from Pune to Los Angeles in order to coordinate long, dull, conference calls that span the globe.
In Trumpland, though, coal and manufacturing are king. If China is having our lunch, then automation is having our breakfast. Robots can make it faster and better, and 3D printing will probably replace the robots. Coal is a finite resource, and other, cheaper energy sources mean it won’t be able to compete on the world stage for long. If your local economy stays pinned to 20th century industries, it will never recover. Instead of clinging on to a sinking ship, maybe it’s time to invest in a flotilla of smaller and more agile lifeboats? Or, you can continue to live in a bubble with “1955” stamped on the outside.
It’s not that rural, small towns can’t have a booming economy. They can; but not in mining or manufacturing. Reinventing the local economy takes vision and leadership. Listen up, all you rural, small, Trump supporting places – you have that! You have young visionaries who know what it takes to reinvent and revitalize. You have brains and talent, you have articulate, open, dynamic men/women/other with the genius and vitality who can attract investors and create jobs. You’ve got them in spades. I know, because I meet them all the time.
I meet them because they moved to New York City.