Anybody can see that the red areas on the map are, for the most part, rural and suburban, places, or non-places, as J.H. Kunstler would say. They are where extensive motoring is mandatory. We also know that our liberal political base is largely in cities and towns where alternative transport most likely exists. But is it a stretch to infer a cause and effect relationship between driving and libertarianism, toryism, or even republicanism?
..... It is about the rise of the antisocial bastards who believe they should be allowed to do what they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences. I believe that while there are many reasons for the growth of individualism in the UK, the extreme libertarianism now beginning to take hold here begins on the road. When you drive, society becomes an obstacle. Pedestrians, bicycles, traffic calming, speed limits, the law: all become a nuisance to be wished away. The more you drive, the more bloody-minded and individualistic you become. The car is slowly turning us, like the Americans and the Australians, into a nation that recognises only the freedom to act, and not the freedom from the consequences of other people's actions. We drive on the left in Britain, but we are being driven to the right.
Certainly moving about in a metal and glass environmentally controlled room encourages isolation from those around us. In fact the modern luxury car that so many aspire to is simply a device still better at separating us from the world outside. With climate control, sound proofing, interior air filters, a cocoon of air bags and a concert class stereo there is darn little to connect the passenger to the outside world. But can the isolation of driving really turn Brits into, gasp, Americans?
Driving down a typical American suburban collector road during rush hour will convince anyone that most drivers do see the world as an obstacle. And sitting at a traffic light watching them pick their noses, apply makeup, or stuff egg sandwiches into their faces demonstrates the regard they have for their counterparts. These are not members of polite society. Such a civil disconnect cannot be anything but a manifestation of hyper-individualism run amok.
The American example is interesting. Over the past few decades, as car ownership became cheaper, public transport became scarcer, and homes were built further from cities, the populace swung to the right.
I told a conservative friend that I often rode a bicycle to the store. He said, "Around here only the destitute do that." Hmmm.
So there you have it, when we build new roads instead of public transportation systems we also build the opposition. When we don't raise gas taxes to cover the cost of building roads and parking lots we subsidize conservative recruitment. When the cost of the environmental damage, air and water pollution is borne by everyone rather than by those who drive the most we are contributing to the GOP.
Do you agree?