Wednesday, December 05, 2001

My letter to the Atlantic Monthly in response to their December cover:

The heart of our nation today is not "Red America" or "Blue America," but Suburban America, which is neither Red nor Blue. It is the emblem of the postwar American family dream, the home of wide lawns, double stall garages, and our national gathering place, the mall. Suburban America is where the majority of Americans live. It's who Hollywood makes movies for, who Gap is trying to sell clothes to, who the Big Three long to sell cars to. It's the America neither Bush nor Gore could count on though both desperately wanted it, and indeed, the suburbs split straight down the middle this past election--a useful representation of the electorate in a race that essentially ended in a tie. That this reflects an ideological divide rather than a flip-of-a-coin choice between centrists is dubious. Brooks, only briefly, and almost parenthetically, acknowledges that there is no significant red-blue gulf between suburbs here and there, but does not do justice to the weight of this reality. Instead, he exaggerates and gawks at unsurprising surface quirks of cultural extremes, an exercise with a confusing purpose in a time of national crisis.

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