Fellows' Presentation

Fault Lines: How the New Geography of Prosperity and Partisanship Is Remaking American Politics

Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2018–2019 Fellows' Presentation Series

Lecture by Jacob S. Hacker RI '19

Free and open to the public.


As a fellow, Jacob S. Hacker is completing a coauthored book, “Fault Lines: How the New Geography of Prosperity and Partisanship Is Remaking American Politics.” In it, Hacker and Pierson argue that, in today’s knowledge economy, the dominant fissure in American politics is between high-growth urban areas and the rest of the nation. Populous metro areas are becoming richer and more Democratic; small towns and rural areas, relatively poorer and more Republican. These two coalitions—“blue” and “red”—are linked to different economic models and electoral strategies. Increasingly, they exercise unified control in states where they’re strongest, further embedding these models and strategies. What makes this clash particularly explosive is that our political institutions penalize urban places: Blue America may be economically strong, but for a variety of reasons, it is politically weak. Thus, America’s economic future depends on the degree to which the urban knowledge economy can be made compatible with America’s distinctive political order.