People who live in crowded places tend to appreciate government. It’s the thing that sets boundaries on public behavior, protects them from burglars and cleans the streets. If anything, they’d like it to do more. (That pothole’s been there for a year!) The people who live in empty places don’t see the point. If a burglar decides to break in, that’s what they’ve got guns for. Other folks don’t get in their way because their way is really, really remote. Who needs government? It just makes trouble and costs money.
The Tea Party is so Empty Places. Do you remember that Tea Party rally in Washington last year over the budget crisis? (That would be the spring budget crisis as opposed to the many other seasonal versions.) “Nobody wants the government to shut down,” began Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, diplomatically. “Yes we do!” cried voices from the crowd.
The Empty Theory made a lot of sense when the country was full of isolated farms, but it lost its mojo when the farmland filled up with suburbs and we elected a long series of presidents who were, to one degree or another, Modified Crowded. But now Empty is making a comeback, less an expression of physical reality than a state of mind. People living on Social Security and Medicare in a 400-unit condo development built with federal subsidies can march to their congressman’s town-hall meeting and demand that he get government out of their hair.