I've always found a certain appeal to localist ideas, but it's most certainly not how I lived my life. I grew up in Southern California, lived for seven years in Texas, and now live in a small town outside Columbus, OH, a little over a hundred miles drive from MrsDarwin's family in Cincinnati. There are ways in which my west coast upbringing makes me not fit elsewhere as well, but at this point California feels a bit alien to me as well. So at this point I'm arguably more American than any particular regional designation within it. I really like the small town we live in, but I have to admit I find it hard to get very excited about city and county elections.
I think Joseph Moore is onto something that it is to an extent this breakdown in local ties (both due to heavy participation in the national entertainment culture and due to frequent moves) which results in people identifying more and more with the nation rather than their city or region. Though I'd point out this isn't strictly a city driven phenomenon. One of the big national movements which moved us along the path to a larger and more intrusive national government (and more identification with national politics) was the agrarian progressive movement of the last of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th. William Jennings Byan led a national movement which sought progressive national government policies which would help farmers against monied interests, at a point when farmers tended to see railroad fees and commodity prices as major sources of injustice. (From a Catholic standpoint, this tradition of supporting government running of the economy to protect small agricultural concerns is a something one sees in the social encyclicals.)
Another interesting point is the difference between the US and a lot of the "old world" countries in terms of what the nation is founded on. Joseph Moore says:
In a book that I can’t lay my hands on at the moment (buried in The Pile) on the Paris peace conference, they mention the problem with Wilson’s plebiscite idea: the people in the villages in the disputed areas didn’t think of themselves primarily as members of a nation, but as members of their villages. That they spoke German or Polish or Czech might incline them to identify with other speakers of those languages, but didn’t necessarily mean they thought of themselves first and foremost as members of a nation comprised of speakers of that language. I wonder how the votes (assuming they took place – did they?) would have gone if it had been presented thus:For various historical reasons, the nation states that formed in Europe were what is most properly referred to as "nation states", states built to provide a country dedicated to a specific "nation" in terms of race, language and culture. This basis in turn created tensions right from the beginning. For instance, Poland as it existed after 1920 had significant minorities of Germans, Russians, Ukrainians and Jews, as well as the ethnic Poles after whom the country was named. These ethnic groups proceeded to be fault lines both in domestic politics and as the country was invaded, occupied, moved, and ethnically cleansed over the following 30 years.
1. You can vote to be identified primarily with speakers of your language. If speakers of your language win the vote, you get to keep your village, and all speakers of other languages will be driven out, presumably to live among speakers of their languages. If you lose, YOU get driven out and lose everything. You are voting that the interests of villages are second to the interests of nation-states.
2. You can vote to leave things as they are, to hell with some progressive’s desire to divvy up everybody into conveniently managed nation-states. If so, everybody has to be cool with everybody else in the neighborhood, but everybody gets to stay and keep their stuff. You are voting that the interests of nation-states are secondary to the interests of villages.
While the US certainly has a degree of shared language and culture, it does not have this ethno-national component to nearly the same degree. But it's also not exactly a classicl supranational empire on the model of the Austro-Hungarian empire.