But Americans have undergone a pretty fundamental transition in the way we identify ourselves geographically. Once we were a country of cities and rural counties, where most people could navigate their way through life using the same battered road atlas, and where they read the same local paper in old age that they delivered as children. Then, with the industrial boom and the advent of highways and suburbs, we became a more regional country, where your political outlook was more likely to be defined by whether you were a New Englander or a Southerner.
And now, increasingly, we’re just a big country, where the economic and social challenges are as ubiquitous, with some minor variations, as the vast array of Walmarts and Subway sandwich shops that stretch from one coast clear to the other. The globalization and technological shift you keep hearing about hasn’t just changed us economically, throwing us into competition against other countries where we used to compete with each other; it’s also nationalized our daily experience, so that we use the same vernacular and hang around at the same malls. We may be more divided by dueling worldviews then ever before, or more fragmented in the media we consume, but we’re far less apt to cling to local allegiance. We find our families spread across multiple states and regions, which we traverse with little sense of unease or alienation.