Liberal and Conservative should be renamed…

…to Urbanist and Ruralist.

A quick look at the election results from the UK, Canada or the US shows a clear correlation between the Liberal/Conservative divide and the Urban/Rural divide.  Take a look at these maps:

A recent US electoral map, indicating population density and voting trends

Vote Density by US Counties



A recent UK electoral map.  Note the clustering of Labour voters in London, Newcastle, Birmingham, and other major cities










An electoral map from Ontario, Canada.  Again, the left-of-center votes cluster in Toronto and Hamilton, the largest cities in the area.



We should not be surprised by this.  Conservatism, in it’s classic form, arose to defend the interests of the rural land owning classes during the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution.

But beyond this, I suspect that urban dwellers and rural dwellers have very different perspectives on the world.  In a rural setting, you know the majority of people you interact with.  In an urban setting, you need to co-exist with vast numbers of strangers.  In a rural setting, tradition and social hierarchy provide consistency and predictability in your life.  In a city, agreed-upon rules and social agencies provide the same effect.

Given how much the world has changed since the 19th century, it’s surprising to me that we still define ourselves in terms of these political labels.  I consider myself both a conservative and a liberal.  I completely believe in the value of conserving social institutions that have served us well and been tested over the centuries: things like the rule of law, and clear property rights, and strong families.  And I completely believe in the importance of providing care and protection for everyone in society, regardless of wealth, race or background.

I think new labels are going to be needed.