Much has been made of the red state / blue state divide. First publicized in the mainstream media during the 2000 election, this concept has now engrained itself in the American political psyche. On the face of it, this method of analysis seems to make sense: certain states contain more voters who align themselves with one of the major political parties than others. Where it’s close, wedge issues or current events can ‘swing’ a state this way or that. Over time, demographic shifts can also ‘swing’ a state into one camp or other.
Urban vs Rural: the great divide
The problem with the red state / blue state method is that it fails to examine the more fundamental dynamics at play. The most important factor in determining which way a state will go is the proportion of its urban population to that which is rural. States with multiple, dense, urban areas will tend to vote ‘blue’ while those with a greater proportion of rural and semi-rural voters will lead, ‘red’. The center in this analysis is always the suburbs, which are sharply divided.
The divisions and issues at play here are a matter of what’s important to each group. Rural voters tend to be against civilian disarmament (‘gun control’) for both recreational and practical reasons. It’s not much good calling animal control when you’re 20+ miles from the nearest town and the fox is in the chicken coop. Rural dwellers are also more likely to hunt for both sport and meat. Land use regulations are another important issue as rural dwellers often live and recreate on or near the land to be regulated. Because rural dwellers come into contact with each other less often, they are less likely to want to regulate their neighbors by supporting various bans of this or that item or action. Generally speaking, rural life is inherently less statist. In the suburbs there exists roughly half of the electorate that sympathizes with these positions.
Urban dwellers, on the other hand, have a host of issues more important to them based on their lifestyles. And this is as it should be. It is also one of the reasons we have local government. The problem is that urban dwellers and their suburban sympathizers routinely go farther than simply voting their interests: they vote against others, in the form of civilian disarmament, land use issues and a host of petty bans and regulations.
The tyranny of the majority
And so is the rural dweller increasingly threatened by the tyranny of the urban majority. The greater this majority becomes, the more even the ‘red’ party becomes more responsive to its interests. This dynamic will continue until, as in so many European countries, there exists no political voice for rural America. Good examples of this dynamic in play are rural states with one or two large urban centers. Colorado, for example, is a state where the overwhelming ‘blue’ voters of Denver and the vast suburban corridor north to Boulder, have imposed their will upon the rural dwellers who occupy the overwhelming majority of the states land. Wyoming, conversely, lacks the dense urban core of a Denver and, subsequently, has remained ‘red’.
This chart highlights the urban/rural divide:
One coin, two sides
In this manner do we see both major political parties as two sides of the same statist coin, the ‘red’ party espousing a minimalist state only to extent that is politically expedient.
While I struggle to find examples of a ruralist ‘agenda’ being foisted upon our cities, I need not look far to see the opposite. While driving home along a miles-long stretch of seldom travelled road, the rural citizen struggles to understand why he cannot take that cell phone call from his wife. He struggles to understand why his favorite ATV trail has been closed down or his favorite deer track or fishing hole now off-limits. Most of all, he cannot understand why his pistol, shotgun or rifle is perceived as a threat by those urbanites miles (or hundreds of miles) away. What he does see, increasingly, are spandex-clad urbanites out for a bicycle ride in the country hills, recreational ‘tourists’ out for a hike shooting suspicious looks at his dogs, and debates on the political channels determining what ‘infrastructure’ projects are deserving of his tax dollars.
The rural resistance
So he votes for the party he perceives will defend his interests, and his freedoms. But what happens when neither party defends his interest? Then he is forced ‘underground’, whether it’s the seemingly innocent violation of a host of petty bans, regulations and restrictions or the more serious matter of retaining his ‘assault’ rifle or high-capacity magazine. It is in this matter that the state incrementally trains the citizen in anti-statism. The more heavy-handed the state, with its ATF agents and SWAT teams, with its petty regulation-enforcing police and arrogant municipal courts, the more entrenched the resistance becomes, and the more divided our people become.
And so there will be no answer to this division, no ‘bi-partisan’ solution, until the urbanites of this great nation restrain themselves from imposing their will upon the ruralists and their suburban sympathizers. One thing, however, is certain. There will come a time when the rural dwellers of this nation will no longer submit to the state. In this regard, several issues loom on the horizon:
- The federal preemption of firearms laws upon the states.
- Increasing calls for stricter ‘CAFE’ and other automobile regulations that make it more difficult for rural dwellers to purchase, fuel and maintain the vehicles necessary for rural life.
- The continued allocation of bailout funds in sharp contrast to overwhelming popular sentiment against such measures, and the likelihood of such funds being spent disproportionately in urban areas.
- Increasingly stringent land use regulations enacted by politicians who are largely unaccountable to those who live, work and play in close proximity to those lands.
These issues are set in sharper relief by the election of our first, unabashed, dyed-in-the-wool, urbanite (some may say ‘metrosexual’) president. Regardless of ones ‘politics’ (in this country, a euphemism for one brand of statism or another), it is already clear that there exists little sympathy for issues important to citizens of the vast rural stretches of this country:
“It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” –Barack Obama
I send out this warning to the American left, the statist right and to urbanites across this land: Stay in your cities and regulate yourselves. Empower the local state apparatus to the extent you feel compelled. Pass the laws and restrictions and bans and regulation that you feel is important to your lifestyles. But do not encroach upon ours. Stay out of our lives and our way of life. Respect our choices, as we respect yours. Do not seek to regulate us or unleash the powers of the state upon us. Regulate your locality in the way you see fit, but do not attempt to force those regulations upon us. The time is coming when we can take no more, when we will resist you. Do not set the divisions of this nation in any sharper relief. Do not force us down a road that will be to everyone’s detriment.
And so I repeat the Barbedwiresmile anti-manifesto:
Those of us who respect liberty and the individual, those of us who respect the fundamental human right to own property, to own the means of self-defense and to resist the tyranny of the majority (or of the individual) will resist you. Those of us who respect our ties to the land, who respect the circularity of nature and the intrinsic human ties to the soil, we will resist you. Those of us who respect the hand-made and the local, the wood over the iron, the organic over the genetically engineered and the individual over the collective will resist you. We will resist you utilizing every means possible, at every corner and every step of the way. We will never surrender. And when your technological, ‘designed’ utopia begins to enslave its children, when your ‘benevolent’ leaders give way to your tyrants, we will be there to save you.