Furthest Right

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

About two in three Americans say they prefer to live around people belonging to different races, religions and income groups. In reality, however, survey research shows that people are increasingly clustering together among those who are just like themselves, especially on the one attribute that ties the others together — political affiliation.

Nearly half of all Americans live in “landslide counties” where Democrats or Republicans regularly win in a rout. In the 2008 election, 48 percent of the votes for president were cast in counties where President-elect Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won by more than 20 percentage points, according to the Pew Research Center.

The clustering of Democrats in Democratic areas and Republicans in Republican areas has been intensifying for at least three decades: In 1976, only about a quarter of all Americans lived in landslide counties. In 1992, a little more than a third of America was landslide country.

“Americans tell survey researchers they prefer to live in diverse communities, but this country’s residential patterns suggest otherwise,” said Paul Taylor, who directs the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project.


People want to live around people like them.

That way, you always know what behaviors will be rewarded, because you share values with others.

You also know you’re a target, because others have roughly the same abilities, so if they want what you have it’s easier for them to earn it just as you did.

They also like the idea of communities which organize themselves according to values, so children don’t get exposed to things their parents don’t want them to see.

Everyone is like this.

But our public fiction of wanting “diversity” — I’m speaking of the ideological kind here, first and foremost — makes us deny that when we speak out loud.

But in private, our actions speak louder than words. How many liberals live in truly mixed-race communities, or choose to live near Republicans?

I thought so: very, very, very few.

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