Mainly we were talking about the election, immigration, the cycles of class friction through American, the strategic and economic implications of TPP, and so on. But near the end, Chuck (whom I know from his days as editor of Hotline, part of the Atlantic combine) asked me where I’d like to live next.
The premise was: over the years my wife Deb and I, plus our kids when they were little, had lived in a sequence of foreign spots, reporting on what seemed interesting. What and where would be interesting next?
I hadn’t been expecting the question and just said, without thinking, “the interior of the United States.”
By “interior” I meant a shorthand for the places other than the handful of big coastal cities that dominate media awareness and the sense of chic: Boston to DC on the East Coast, Seattle to LA in the west, a courtesy extension to Miami and San Diego, and a smattering of others. Basically this media-mind-map creates a picture of the United States as if it were Australia, with the action all happening along the rim.
Of course a sense of excitement about the rest of the country reflects what Deb and I have been reporting in our travels these past few years, but it actually is something I believe more strongly the more I see. If you were traveling the country wide-eyed and mainly tuned out from the national political news, you would think this is a big, interesting, diverse civilization, in the process of dealing with and beginning to solve the many ills of the era.
Much as I wasn’t expecting the question, Chuck wasn’t expecting the answer, but we agreed and went on to some of the political and economic ramifications thereof.