I grew up in a Midwestern small town, and I would disagree about geographical isolation leading to extreme ideology. I would argue that it’s isolation of thoughts, primarily, and experiences (which could be caused by geographic isolation), secondarily. Echo chambers. My classmates who are still in the Midwest are well aware of Portland and Berkeley and NYC.
I’m reading “Caste: The origins of our discontent” right now. I’m entertaining the idea that those in power are using a tactic from caste societies whereby they pit middle castes against each other in the false belief that those in power will welcome them in to the upper caste — which they never will — so those middle castes do the ugly work of enforcing the order among the lower castes.
Some friends in the Midwest are quite progressive, some are quite conservative and most are in the middle. Their circle of friends and their experiences nudge them a little to the right. But I don’t view them as extreme. However, I totally agree that they feel unheard!
Lastly, my neighbors growing up were all family farmers or factory workers in locally-owned companies. During the 1980s, that shifted to corporate farms and conglomerate-ownes factories; the former were foreclosed upon, the latter were relocated for cheaper labor. Those that left the Midwest, like me, pursued tech jobs and now argue for sustainability.
Good article. It resonates despite my minor differences of opinion. Thank you!