The difference is no longer about where people live, its about how people live: in spread-out, open, low-density privacy — or amid rough-and-tumble, in-your-face population density and diverse communities that enforce a lower-common denominator of tolerance among inhabitants.
This dynamic is hardly new. It reminds me of what happened during (or even precipitated) the decline of the Roman Empire. In that time, the empire’s elite migrated from the cities, establishing their fiefdoms in the countryside, beginning a thousand years of what we know refer to as the Dark Ages and the era of serfdom.
While the cities of Europe remained as centers of commerce, they had little influence or political standing until the onset of the Renaissance. This divide seems to be coming to American society, and the political struggle we face as a result will come to no good whatsoever.
For myself, I prefer the urban environment, but as it stands today, American cities remain all-too-dependent upon Federal and state largesse, which given the narrow margins of recent elections, remains far too vulnerable to political whims. It’s a house of cards, with little obvious consensus between opposing parties to keep it propped.