Imagine being brought up on an intellectual diet of right-wing talk radio and then taking your first trip to Europe, having been taught for your entire life that France is a moldering socialist pigsty — except there are no pigs, because everything’s run by the Taliban, and it’s basically Afghanistan with fancy cheese. And then you get to Paris, and it’s — Paris, rather than Hotel Rwanda or even The Elementary Particles. Or consider Los Angeles, for that matter: A lot of the places in the United States you’re supposed to hate if you’re a good conservative turn out to be pretty nice in a lot of ways, too. There are a lot of young, smart, ambitious people moving to those left-wing hellholes, for some reason. They aren’t going to New York for the weather, and they aren’t going to California for the low taxes and reasonable cost of living.

But imagine being able to combine what people like about New York and California with low taxes and a reasonable cost of living. You want a winning political agenda — there it is.

Conservatives are not going to win urban-minded culturally curious people over to our way of looking at the world by telling them that they want all the wrong things for themselves, that anything of apparent value they find in New York, California, Chicago, Boston, Austin, etc., is only fools’ gold. I am writing this from Beverly Hills (oh, the rigors of book publicity), which doesn’t entirely represent the sort of life I’d want for myself or my family, but who could say there isn’t anything to like about it? My friend Glenn Beck once wrote a book called The Real America, which on its cover had a prairie scene with a picturesque little barn. But Beverly Hills is as much a part of the real America as Muleshoe, Texas — and there is no future in trying to build a political coalition that makes a loyalty test of preferring the latter to the former. If conservatives are going to write off the parts of the country where the people and the money are, and where the growth is, we are going to lose. We are ceding that ground in small ways and in big ways.