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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.
 

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Via Instapundit, a discussion of voting vs. population density.

That population density predicts voting has been obvious for a long time; the question is, why? The proposals put forward by the author don't convince, so here's another. Consider the following:

  • The higher the population density, the safer it is for those in local government to ignore constituents' views.
  • The higher the population density, the longer it will have been the case, that it is safe for those in local government to ignore constituents' views.
  • The safer it is for those in local government to ignore constituents' views, the more likely it is, that local government will fill up with those pursuing their own ends.
  • The higher the population density, the fuller local government will be with those pursuing their own ends.
  • The higher the population density, the longer it will be, that those in local government have been pursuing their own ends.
  • Those who enter local government for the pursuit of their own ends, are far more likely to be attracted to, rather than wary of, the powers of government.
  • Those in local government are far more likely to fill the public payroll with persons who agree with them, than with persons who disagree.
  • The higher the population density, the fuller the public payroll will be with persons who are attracted to, rather than wary of, the powers of government.
  • The faculties of public schools are part of the public payroll.
  • The higher the population density, the fuller the public schools' faculties will be with persons who are attracted to, rather than wary of, the powers of government.
  • The closer the public schools approach to a monolithic orthodoxy, the more likely it will be that they train their students to that same orthodoxy.
  • The longer the public schools' faculties remain a monolithic orthodoxy, the less likely that said orthodoxy will face serious challenge.
  • The higher the population density, the more susceptible it is to the establishment of an unchallenged orthodoxy attracted to, rather than wary of, the powers of government.

This explains why high-population areas trend Democratic. As to low-population areas trending Republican, the explanation is even simpler:

  • The lower the population density, the more likely it is that a person will often find himself alone.
  • The more often a person finds himself alone, the higher the premium placed upon self-reliance.
  • The lower the population density, the higher the premium placed upon self-reliance.
  • The higher the premium placed upon self-reliance, the more likely it is that a person will be wary of, rather than attracted to, the powers of government.
  • The lower the population density, the more likely it is that a person will be wary of, rather than attracted to, the powers of government.
  • The lower the population density, the more perilous it is for those in local government to ignore consituents' views.
  • The lower the population density, the more likely it is that local policy will favor self-reliance.

Note that this is more fragile than the Democratic hold upon urban areas, because it is not assisted by a systemic self-perpetuating orthodoxy; indeed, orthodoxy and self-reliance are antithetical.

Finally, an observation on a difference in approach to disagreements with local policy, and its consequences. Persons who are self-reliant (and thus wary of the powers of government), when confronted with a disagreeable local policy, are far more likely to solve the problem by moving elsewhere; persons who are attracted to the powers of government (and thus less self-reliant) are far more likely to agitate for a solution based in local policy. Thus it happens, that Democrats become progressively more obnoxious, and Republicans then vote with their feet.

Which means, of course, that I don't expect the current rancor to abate any time soon.

-- posted by Clayton 11/17/2004 05:03:00 PM


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