The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 19 No. 2 (Summer 2017)

Cosmopolitanism vs. Provincialism: How the Politics of Place Hurts America

Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Summer 2017

(Volume 19 | Issue 2)


There are two classes of Americans…one, holding it highly unpatriotic to find any evil in our own Government, or any good in a foreign one; the other, able to see excellence everywhere, except at home. The former illustrate the bigotry of patriotism, the latter, the heartlessness of cosmopolitanism.
—from The National Era newspaper (1848)1


Does liberal urban cosmopolitanism account for the rise of Donald Trump? In one of his pre-election commentaries, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat said yes and no. From his perspective, the populist revolts in the United States and Great Britain suddenly forced Americans to look to the mother country for insights into what many saw as Trump’s dangerous mixture of nativism and anti-globalism, along with crude appeals to the white working class. On one side of the Atlantic was “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s nostalgic evocation of the post–World War II boom that convincingly established American military and economic dominance. On the other side of the Atlantic, Shakespeare’s famous line, “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,” arguably summed up a comparable desire to recover cultural exceptionalism and British imperial power, while justifying a love of country. The enemies of these two populist movements were easy to spot. They were the Democratic establishment of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on one side of the Atlantic, and the European Union on the other. But at the same time, patriotic populists had something in their sights that they perceived as far more ominous: a debilitating drift toward multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism.2

Douthat concluded that there were no genuine cosmopolitan beneficiaries of corporate globalism. People who regard themselves as citizens of the world today are, he claimed, less celebrants of difference than lovers of meritocratic sameness. They boast Oxbridge or Ivy League credentials, speak the same professional language, exhibit similar cultural tastes, and live in a safe urban-global bubble made possible because of innovations in travel and communication. These virtual paper-pushers of the computer age constitute a “hereditary caste” or “tribe,” making them a pale reflection of the true cosmopolitan globe trekker. Whether real or fake, they were a visible target of Brexit backers and Trump’s vocal supporters.3

No one disputes that Trump tapped into simmering class anger. Even Vice President Joe Biden picked up on the inflammatory rhetoric Trump was aiming at Washington insiders and urban elitists. Biden acknowledged that the Democratic Party placed too much emphasis on “pedigree,” by which he meant intellectual pedigree, class pedigree.4

In the aftermath of the election, longtime Trump supporter and CNN commentator Jeffery Lord repeated what has now become the conventional wisdom among Republicans. Appearing on Bill Maher’s Real Time, he praised Trump’s combative verbal style, saying that the businessman’s victory rested on his ability to “dish it right back” at the liberal media, in support of all who feel that elites “look down on them.” For Lord, Trump scored big as the defender of Clinton’s “basket of deplorables.”5

Such people finally had a champion, who would dismiss political correctness in an abrupt way that struck them as “raw honesty.” Put another way, Trump’s vulgar style made him “common” and provincial. It brought him down from his Manhattan penthouse and made him one with the unwashed masses. Trump’s uncensored mouth (and Twitter account) set his conduct apart from the civility expected among political elites. He was not a member of the Washington insiders’ club. He didn’t play by anyone else’s rules. Wasn’t that the vintage American expression of freedom? To his devoted fans, it was. Whenever the wealthy New Yorker donned his red Bubba cap and went on the attack against the cultural elite, he became the candidate of the common man, equally accessible to the rural outsider and the ordinary working stiff.6

It did not take much for the reality television star and real-life real estate tycoon to revive the Republicans’ war against political correctness. Liberal snobbery was itself equated with cosmopolitanism. The “in crowd” were Hollywood hipsters, the educated elite (with their monopoly on secular morality), liberal journalists, full-time Washingtonians, and bleeding-heart Democrats in general. While liberal elites embraced cultural tolerance for outsiders, they had little sympathy for rural and working-class white Americans whose religion and traditional beliefs they characterized as primitive, uncouth, and thoroughly retrograde. Little wonder that such Americans had come to see themselves as “strangers” in their “own country.”7

The Cosmopolite and the Yeoman

The use of cosmopolitan as a derogatory epithet has long been a staple of Republican rhetoric. Writing in National Review in 2005, Jonah Goldberg charged that liberal Democrats had adopted cosmopolitanism as a replacement for the exhausted ideals of Marxism. As “the tumor of Marxism continues to shrink,” he wrote, “cosmopolitanism finds room to grow.” It found expression, he argued, in the crusade against global warming, the rejection of unilateralism in foreign policy, and the adoption and use of European notions of social democracy to reframe American constitutionalism. In attacking liberal cosmopolitanism as a dangerous and destructive ideology, Goldberg also traced the disdain held by its adherents to an older school of regionalist caricature. The new standard-bearers merely had revived H.L. Mencken’s superior-sounding mockery of the provincial “boobocracy,” and what Goldberg further claimed was the twentieth-century propensity of the urban intelligentsia to ridicule the “yokels” and “puritans” who inhabited rural (or backward) regions across America.8

The tensions and, even more, the almost symbiotic connection between urbane worldliness and rural nativism, have a longer and more revealing history than Goldberg himself might have realized, tracing back at least to the world of Thomas Jefferson. In the eighteenth century, cosmopolitanism emerged in North America as a component of British imperialism, largely in response to demographic changes taking place in Britain’s colonial outposts across the globe. Cosmopolitanism was a mentality that encouraged acceptance of provincial outsiders who were striving to become metropolitan insiders while establishing homes abroad. Quaker merchants in the American settlements were among the most eager promoters of cosmopolitanism, because they were practitioners of religious tolerance and lived in an international community of Friends. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson argued for the advantages of a liberal exchange of self-evident truths. When it came to spreading the gospel of human rights, he appreciated the global purchase and universal appeal of enlightened ideas. He was an advocate of free trade, assuming that goods (like liberal ideas) should circulate freely across national boundaries.9

At the same time, Jefferson had little difficulty defending provincialism. The true love of country, amor patriae, came from an attachment to the soil, he said, and it was best expressed by those citizens who engaged in agriculture. The American cultivator, or yeoman farmer, was, for Jefferson, the political backbone of the young republic. In 1785, in one of his more far-fetched statements, he said he hoped the United States would remain as isolated as China, avoiding European wars and unprofitable diplomatic entanglements. He favored Connecticut over Rhode Island, because the latter had too many transatlantic merchants with overseas interests, in contrast to its more agrarian neighbor. In Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson expressed uneasiness over the prospect of accommodating large numbers of immigrants in America. He worried that foreigners might not blend easily with the relatively homogeneous Anglo-American population.10

In Jefferson’s grand scheme, the vast North American continent would save the United States by pulling those living along the East Coast westward, thus instilling a love of the land among them. Foreigners, too, would become more American if they worked on farms, rather than settle among those already concentrated in cities. To make his fantastic portrait of the new nation complete, Jefferson refused to see his idealized rural Americans as “yokels.” He visualized them sitting peacefully under a sturdy oak reading Homer. In this perspective, rural Americans were neither vulgar nor uneducated; nor were they cut off from modern intellectual currents. They were provincials without the taint of provincialism.11

Cultural Connoisseurs and Hidden Voters

Modern politicians have used Jefferson to advance two very different interpretations of cosmopolitanism. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt saw Jefferson as the architect of a modern, cosmopolitan democracy. In his dedication of the Jefferson Memorial on April 13, 1943, Jefferson’s 200th birthday, Roosevelt called the third president the “apostle of freedom.” In his 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, in which he defended the universal rights to freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from want, and freedom from oppression, the president saw himself as endorsing and extending Jefferson’s conviction that freedom was an exportable product. International alliances depended on shared values, a common language, and the ability to see all human beings as yearning for liberty. “Eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” read the words that circle the interior of the memorial dome; Jefferson’s bold exhortation called on Americans to embrace their global mission.12

A far less favorable understanding of cosmopolitanism, reflecting some of Jefferson’s own misgivings about it, has been skillfully updated and deployed by conservatives engaged in today’s identity-inflected politics. Besides being criticized for ignoring the harm caused by globalism, today’s self-satisfied “citizens of the world” come under fire for their alleged selfishness and superficiality. Douthat’s faux cosmopolites are yuppies who equate cultural richness with the opening of an Afghan restaurant in their neighborhood but at the same time send their children to private schools. They are cultural connoisseurs of internationalism—tourists at best—defending ethnic and racial diversity but showing little interest in removing the barriers created by class or educational advantages. Cosmopolitanism, in this construct, is reduced to a bourgeois affectation. Douthat’s definition conflates cultural tolerance with urbanity and equates class snobbery with political correctness. Multiculturalism itself is defined as a class privilege.13

Beneath the rhetoric, of course, are matters of real substance. Republican success in the last election came in large part from what its campaign called the “hidden Trump voters,” white rural and small-town Americans who believed that tax dollars, modern services, and investment in infrastructure were being funneled into cities while their communities were forgotten. Many of these Americans view even college education as an urban and suburban perk, because it is so seldom available as a path to success for their own children. The political clout of the hinterland has diminished as well, with rural Americans now making up only about 20 percent of the US population. But fear of demographic marginalization can be a galvanizing force: A National Public Radio survey found that “7 of out 10 who live far from the metropolitan area,” and in communities of fewer than 2,500 people, were Trump voters.14 And as political analysts Sean Trende and David Byler noted in Real Clear Politics, “[R]ural counties and towns don’t cast a lot of votes standing alone, but they do add up.”15

The conditions behind today’s rural malaise are hardly new. The socialist Michael Harrington wrote about them in The Other America in 1962, identifying vast numbers of impoverished Americans who lived in an “invisible land” that was of little concern to the contented middle-class denizens of suburbia. “Hidden voters” in an “invisible land” harkens back to an older and starker characterization of rural America as not simply provincial but a wasteland. Images of barren, fetid, even swampy expanses, fit only for the wretched and dispossessed, have been upstaged in the national imagination by images of decaying Rust Belt towns and stagnant “hollers” populated by the unemployed, the addicted, and the desperate.16

The Republican presidential candidate appealed directly to the rural and small-town “left behind” during his campaign, painting them as victims of free trade, globalization, and indifferent cosmopolitan Washington elites. (This characterization resonated even though states with larger and poorer rural populations received a disproportionate share of federal funding during the Obama years; South Carolina, for example, got back more than eight times the amount it contributed in tax dollars.) Whether Trump will follow through on his promises to those “left behind” remains to be seen. But the first budget he proposed would effectively dismantle many of the very regional development and job-training programs (the Appalachian Region Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, and Community Block Grants, among others) that most benefit the residents of rural and small-town America. Similarly, had it become law, the Trump-endorsed GOP replacement for Obamacare would have, as Vann R. Newkirk wrote in The Atlantic, further penalized “sicker, rural patients” in areas that were already health-care and service “deserts” by turning them into “coverage deserts.” Rather than reduce the urban-rural inequities, the plan would have benefited those who needed it the least: wealthy or at least better-off metropolitan residents.17

Post-materialist Politics

But American politics thrives on exploiting confusion about real and perceived interests, whether those interests are tied to region or class or both. That confusion is further confounded by equally powerful questions of culture and values. Indeed, urbanist Richard Florida cites a growing body of research making the case for a “post-materialist” politics, in which “cultural and values-related issues have replaced materialistic, economic interests as the key lines of cleavage in politics today.” Under this new dispensation, Florida argues, we are witnessing a new populism “driven by the reaction against two groups in particular—affluent and educated urban cosmopolitans who are the bearers of liberal and progressive values, and immigrants who speak different languages and have different religions.”18 Whether the main driver of American politics is material interests or cultural values, Trump’s campaign rhetoric deliberately and successfully exploited the loaded binaries of regional and class conflict: urban/rural; pedigreed elites/working stiffs; cosmopolitan tolerance/provincial patriotism.19

The urban-rural divide is extremely important—and it’s widening. The election map plotting the geographic location of party support indicates that rural America is now firmly in the Trump/Republican camp. That was not the case when Bill Clinton ran in the 1992 and 1996: He won Louisiana and Arkansas twice, and had a strong white working-class following. The image of the “boy from Hope” played well to average Americans after journalists dubbed Clinton the “Arkansas Elvis,” and when he took up his saxophone and performed “Heartbreak Hotel” on The Arsenio Hall Show.20

Identity politics is nothing new, either. Harry Truman, who never had a college education, was one of the last presidents who could credibly claim that his political wisdom came from riding on a gang plow. George H.W. Bush, proud heir of an elite family pedigree, had to hide his blueblood and WASP roots when he ran in 1988. He campaigned with a female country singer and proudly professed his love of pork rinds. His son, George W. Bush, concealed his privileged background behind a Texas accent and good-old-boy jocularity. So Trump was hardly the first modern presidential candidate to play to his audience with subtle, and not so subtle, symbols of the common man.21

But if politicians often have to play the provincial card to get elected, Trump’s stage act is belied by so many contradictions (including inherited wealth and a Wharton School business degree) that it should trouble even those Americans who demand that candidates act like “one of the people” while running for office. Trump has no ties whatsoever to anything agrarian, unless the greens on his many golf courses represent country life. But most of the loyal voters who chose Trump last November were convinced that he represented a cultural landscape that both included and celebrated them. He was a businessman, a dealmaker, a winner, he told them, and he promised to make America great again in their image. He wouldn’t disparage them for their fear of encroaching Islam, or for their resentment of poor Latin American immigrants who were entering the United States illegally. He wouldn’t take away their guns, and he wouldn’t be filling his cabinet with Washington insiders. He would dismantle the liberal “Establishment,” cabinet post by cabinet post, which meant “draining the swamp” of all the cosmopolitan elites who lorded over the policy making process.

Heartless Cosmopolitanism

The hostility toward cosmopolitanism that surfaced early on among Trump supporters is more than an ideological stance. It is a designator of class as much as geography. It builds upon the old fear that cities are filled with transients, with people unmoored from the traditional values that come from family and church. This prejudice borrows from that golden-age fantasy that simple virtues flourished in small-town America, a staple of political rhetoric even in the twentieth-first century. As the Washington Post reported, Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Andy Griffith, has re-created the fictional town of Mayberry, right down to Floyd’s Barber Shop. Of course, Mayberry never existed, and today’s rural small towns often suffer from drug addiction, unemployment, and other so-called big-city problems. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, Mount Airy residents knew they were selling nostalgia for the lost world of Main Street USA, yet they still somehow believed that Donald J. Trump would act to restore it. Faith is not a simple thing, though we often make it appear so.22

In its simplest form, anti-cosmopolitanism of this kind plays on the cultural gulf between town and country, between literate urban elites and commonsense country folk. It is about place, above all. The “politically correct” designation that attaches to cosmopolitanism has morphed into a slur against urban snobbery. In the eyes of Trump’s rural fans, the so-called tolerant are decidedly not neighborly. Washington insiders, by a similar measure, are remote, indifferent, out of touch; they ignore a large swath of America. Unexpectedly, the 2016 Trump campaign succeeded in putting the average white Americans who espoused this geographical-class critique back on the radar. Lest we forget, Trump’s other mantra (and a major theme of his inaugural address) was “America First.” That is why the 1848 epigraph that opens this essay merits our consideration. The “bigotry of patriotism” often stands in opposition to the “heartlessness of cosmopolitanism.” And if there is indeed such a thing as “the heartlessness of cosmopolitanism,” it does seem to be fueling the anger and sense of alienation of Trump voters who feel invisible. It is that cultural chasm of mutual distrust between urban and rural Americans that Trump has so successfully exploited.

American politics has always tapped into class resentments. Ever since Jefferson and Hamilton argued over which social order would secure a future of national honor, divisions between urban and rural Americans have loomed large. With his wide range of foreign business interests, Trump was hardly the best candidate to represent the good old heartland. (His overseas properties are based on a pattern of exploitation and cronyism, and his eagerness to put his name on everything is rooted in his hunger for fame.) Given the attributes of the new president, which arguably represent the worst of the “citizen of the world” mentality, the party that lost the election of 2016 would be wise to consider reclaiming the older Jeffersonian patriotism embodied in the love of the soil. Global warming may be the human rights issue of our century, but it would make sense, for example, for Democrats to focus on the implications for rural as much as urban life of Trump’s attempt to roll back the Clean Water Act and slash the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency. Water contamination is an issue that is unbounded by class geography. It is a problem in Flint, Michigan, in Louisiana, and in countless small cities and towns with aging water-processing plants. What could possibly be more symbolic of our native land than its lakes and rivers, the arteries that literally bind together cities and counties and states?

But how do we escape the trap of labeling and acknowledge that the old categories of smug and heartless cosmopolites and bigoted and benighted provincials only obscure the struggle over power and resources?

We might benefit by taking a page from the political handbook of the New Deal. It was Howard W. Odum, University of North Carolina professor and Southern regionalist, who argued that Americans had to adopt a “regional vision” that would make it possible to break down the arbitrary boundaries among states and erode the long-standing North-South divide. He believed that the Tennessee Valley Authority, a signature program of the New Deal, was the answer. The TVA harnessed the power of seven monumental dams, interlocking the interests of seven states; it employed more than 10,000 people who had lived in devastating poverty. This revolutionary project changed more than the economy. It gave rural Americans, and all the transplanted engineers and their families, a common frame of reference. As Jonathan Daniels wrote in A Southerner Discovers the South (1938), it wasn’t the photoelectric cell lighting and heating in the TVA school that impressed him, but the “collision of children”—the “hill children of big, poor families” and the middle-class kids of engineers. Old stereotypes of city slickers and country bumpkins became less relevant.23

The same logic could be applied to increase the interdependence of city and countryside today. Donald Trump’s campaign promise to invest $550 billion in new infrastructure could do more than fund piecemeal projects to repair roads, bridges, pipelines, the electrical grid, inland waterways, and railroad tracks. It could also put in place a more encompassing regional vision to enhance public and private economic development partnerships across state lines. As with the railroads of the nineteenth century, commercial growth would be encouraged along these rural networks. Tax breaks could be given to companies that implemented regional business models and consciously recruited employees and smaller business into the new urban-rural orbit.24

This “regional vision” may have little chance of succeeding in our current political climate, but it is better to champion a vision than to hunker down in partisan bunkers and lash out against imagined enemies in the blogosphere. Wishing for a quick fix or chanting a slogan to “make America great again” will not address our enormous economic problems and growing inequality. It is time for Americans to do something truly “tremendous” and abandon the old politics of place for a politics that promotes urban-rural cooperation.

Endnotes

  1. “Patriotism Run Mad–Incivism,” The National Era (May 25, 1848), http://www.accessible.com/accessible/print. Accessed April 17, 2017.
  2. Ross Douthat, “The Myth of Cosmopolitanism,” New York Times, July 2, 2016; Ishaan Tharoor, “Brexit and Britain’s Delusions of Empire,” Washington Post, March 31, 2017; and Michael Rushton, “Brexit and Culture: It’s Complicated,” artsjournal.com, June 28, 2016, http://www.artsjournal.com/worth/2016/06/brexit-and-culture-its-complicated/
  3. Douthat, “The Myth of Cosmopolitanism.”
  4. Douglas Ernst, “Joe Biden Says Democrats ‘Don’t Associate’ with ‘Difficulty’ of White Working Class,” Washington Times, October 26, 2016.
  5. Marlow Stern, “Bill Maher Completely Owns CNN Trumpkin Jeffrey Lord,” Daily Beast, March 3, 2017, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/04/bill-maher-completely-owns-cnn-trumpkin-jeffrey-lord.html. Stern was reporting on the March 3, 2017, broadcast of Real Time.
  6. Nancy Isenberg, “Dismissing Trump Fans as White Trash Gets Our Class System All Wrong,” Daily Beast, July 19, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/30/dismissing-trump-fans-as-white-trash-gets-our-class-system-all-wrong.html.
  7. Joseph Epstein, Snobbery: The American Version (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2002), 15, 33, 155–57; Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (New York, NY: New Press, 2016), 61, 139–45, 215–18, 218, 236; James Davison Hunter and Carl Desportes Bowman, The Vanishing Center of American Democracy: The 2016 Survey of American Political Culture (Charlottesville, VA: Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, 2016), 30.
  8. Jonah Goldberg, “Citizens of the World! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Countries, and Your Freedoms, and …,” National Review (December 5, 2005), 40, 42.
  9. Benjamin L. Carp, “‘Fix’d Almost Among Strangers’: Charleston’s Quaker Merchants and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism,” William and Mary Quarterly 74, no. 1 (2017): 77–108, esp. 78–80; Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1980), 88, 186.
  10. Nancy Isenberg, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (New York, NY: Viking 2016), 94–95; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1954), 84–85.
  11. Thomas Jefferson wrote that unlike European peasants, Americans were “the only farmers that can read Homer.” See Jefferson to St. John de Crèvecoeur, January 15, 1787, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian Bond and Barbara B. Oberg (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950–), 11:144.
  12. Andrew Burstein, Democracy’s Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All the While Being Dead (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2015), 21–22.
  13. Douthat, “The Myth of Cosmopolitanism.”
  14. Helena Bottemiller Evich, “Revenge of the Rural Voter,” Politico, November 13, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/hillary-clinton-rural-voters-trump-231266; Rich Morin, “Behind Trump’s Win in Rural White America: Women Joined Men in Backing Him,” Pew Research Center, November 17, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/17/behind-trumps-win-in-rural-white-america-women-joined-men-in-backing-him/; Robert Leonard, “Why Rural America Voted for Trump,” New York Times, January 5, 2017; Aimee Picchi, “Trump’s Hidden Asset: Rural but Not Poor Voters,” CBS Money Watch, December 15, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-hidden-asset-rural-but-not-poor-voters/.
  15. Sean Trende and David Byler, “How Trump Won: The South,” Real Clear Politics, January 16, 2017, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/01/16/how_trump_won_the_south_132796.html.
  16. Isenberg, White Trash, 19–20, 265.
  17. Helena Bottemiller Evich, “Revenge of the Rural Voter”; Vann R. Newkirk II, “How A GOP Health-Care Plan Could Leave Rural Areas Devoid of Coverage,” The Atlantic, February 28, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/the-gop-plan-to-create-health-coverage-deserts/517839/?utm_source=atlfb; Ruth Marcus, “Trump Wants the Forgotten Men and Women to Stay Forgotten,” Washington Post, March 17, 2017; Nina Eliasoph, “Scorn Wars: Rural White People and Us,” Transformation, March 13, 2017, https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/nina-eliasoph/scorn-wars-rural-white-people-and-us.
  18. Richard Florida, “What Is Really behind the Populist Surge?” CityLab, March 2017, https://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/03/what-is-really-behind-the-populist-surge/519921/.
  19. See the new preface to the paperback edition of White Trash (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2017), xxi.
  20. Trende and Byler, “How Trump Won: The South”; Isenberg, White Trash, 299–300.
  21. Epstein, Snobbery, 55, 57; Roger Butterfield, “The Folklore of Politics,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 74, no. 2 (1955): 164–77, esp. 166.
  22. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “How Nostalgia for White Christian America Drove So Many Americans to Vote for Trump,” Washington Post, January 5, 2017; Newkirk, “How A GOP Health-Care Plan Could Leave Rural Areas Devoid of Coverage.”
  23. Quoted in Isenberg, White Trash, 223–225, 229.
  24. Tim Meko, “Six Maps That show the Anatomy of America’s Vast Infrastructure,” Washington Post, December 1, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/maps-of-american-infrastrucure/. Another model would be the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Both the state of New York and the Ohio Valley have regional development councils or plans, but nothing exists today on the scale of the TVA.

Nancy Isenberg is the author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (2016), and is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at Louisiana State University. Andrew Burstein, the author of several books on Jefferson, is the Manship Professor of History at Louisiana State. Burstein and Isenberg are the coauthors of Madison and Jefferson (2010).

Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 19.2 (Summer 2017). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.

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