Why collapsing cities and towns need something more than a better economy or a bigger government.
Nowadays, as each new presidential election approaches, commentators are in the habit of forecasting the most pivotal contest of our lifetime, if not all of American history. But despite such overheated claims, some elections may actually mark unusually important turning points. In retrospect, 2016 seems a likely candidate, and there is no shortage of analyses or theories to help us make sense of it.
In Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive and Others Collapse, Washington Examiner writer Timothy Carney uses the 2016 election as an opportunity to consider the overall health of our body politic and the “American Dream.” Like the best guides, Carney goes beyond shedding light on “horse race” factors like polling data, campaign strategies, and county-by-county deep dives. James Madison may have exaggerated a bit in Federalist 51 when he asked, rhetorically, whether government was the greatest of all reflections on human nature, but the intensity of our political moment does open a revealing window into more than election returns.
Why are some communities doing so well? Why are others languishing? Why are some places characterized by healthy signs of civic life and human flourishing, like strong marriages, vibrant schools, job growth, and safe neighborhoods with book clubs and bowling leagues? Why are others afflicted with rising rates of suicide, opioid addiction, separated families, and economic stagnation? And why were people living in the latter places most likely to provide Donald Trump with his strongest support in the primaries, even before the motivation of voting against Hillary Clinton could factor in? Alienated America tackles these questions.
A Sense of Despair
Carney’s work falls in …