Beyond Red State / Blue State: the real American divide

February 2, 2009

 

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.

 

Sharp divisions

 

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:

 

 2008preselectionmap

 

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:

 

  1. The federal preemption of firearms laws upon the states.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 

 

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17 Responses to “Beyond Red State / Blue State: the real American divide”

  1. islander Says:

    Funny, I see a map dominated by gun-toting, gap-toothed, rural rednecks who, by vote for hillbillies at the expense of educated city dwellers.

    • Corporate Monster Says:

      I see a map dominated by intellegent, rational humans that unfortunely has pockets of simple minded trators to this country.

      islander’s response is typical of a entitlement minded, liberal yuppie city rat. I’ve worked in a major city with this type for years.I live far outside in a rural area for good reason. Yes, I’ve heard all the redneck, rural jokes at work. How foolish am I to live out in Hickville, blah blah blah. Well when the power went out on the eastcoast/midwest years ago I had power restored, (That’s right, restored not a generator)at eleven O’clock that very same night it went out. The city slickers homes and where I worked? Days later, it was a week for some people. What happens when the lights go out for a longer period or “The Shit Hits The Fan” in the city? I’m sure things will be much more civil in Hickville. All the lemmings from the city run to the urban areas for saftey or help. When you run islander, remember one thing, We’re all just a of bunch gun toting hicks with food, shelter and power who are not about to give it away to some simple minded liberal drone becuase “I just doesn’t know what to do!! You just have to help me, you have enough.” I don’t and I won’t. Maybe you should read Aesop’s fable, The ant and the grasshopper.

  2. none in particular Says:

    Islander, in a master-stroke of genius you have made thousands of Americans aware of how painfully ignorant you are. even the words you use display your lack of education. You sound like one of the mythical persons you described. By the way, most “city dwellers” I’ve encountered in my consultations are, to use a rural expression, “dumber than a box of rocks”. You, however, are dumber than two boxes. Please have yourself sterilized to avoid contaminating the world gene pool.

  3. brooks Says:

    okay: in general, i sympathize. but i feel like you bailed out before the money shot.

    we all gotta live here, in a limited amount of space, with a limited supply of resources, surrounded by neighboring states with similar dilemmas. how do you propose to untie this Gordian knot, so to speak? and what is your solution to the problem of majority rule?

    ’cause you’re long on rhetoric and awful short on details here, and in the end it sounds like you’re just bitchin’.

    …which is all okay, i guess. that’s one of the many great things about this government-developed, tax-funded, industrially maintained animal that is the internet and World Wide Web. just don’t expect too many folks to take it serious-like.

  4. Bolt Action Says:

    Islander,

    Yes, it certainly seems you “educated city dwellers” have us rural folks figured out. Or maybe not. Having grown up in both a rural and urban environment, and having spent a portion of my adult life in an urban environment in order to act upon my professional pursuits, I can tell you, and everyone for that matter, that the truly uneducated in America live in cities and suburbs. The smartest and most successful people I have encountered are from, and live, in rural America. Us plain country folk generally have a better grasp on life and its challenges. We have both feet firmly planted on the ground, and we look to ourselves for direction. We don’t ‘hope’ for ‘change’ and look to psychopathic talking-heads to lead us out of the darkness and into some utopia. We can take care of ourselves and we place great importance on taking care of our families and helping friends and neighbors when in need. We know how to survive. We don’t tell others how to live or what they should do. We keep to ourselves and respect those around us for who they are and where they’re going in life. You would do yourself a large favor by getting to know us. Because the direction you and your type are taking this country is leading it to disaster, and some day you’ll need our help. And remember, advanced degrees and professional status mean nothing in life, and they certainly are not proof a person is ‘educated’. These things may stroke your ego and make you feel ‘educated’, but we “gun toting, gap-toothed, rednecks” know better. Be careful, because many of the individuals you interact with who hold advanced degrees and professional status in life are “hillbillies” too.


  5. Brooks- thanks for the comment.

    The answer to your question (regarding my solution) is implicit in the column: my suggestion is for urbanites to self-govern at the local level and to not advocate legislation that effects the rights of rural dwellers. The blueprint for this form of self-governing republic has already been written. It’s called the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Unfortunately, this blueprint has become perverted by decades of power-grabbing by the federal government. One result is the rural-urban divide described in this column. But there are many others. And such is the focus of this site.

    Fortunately, many Americans and their honest representatives are slowly waking up to these facts, as evidenced by the recent draft by the state legislature of New Hampshire (posted on this site) as well as the legislation passed by the state government of Montana (as also documented on this site).

    These pieces of legislation imply a heightened awareness among those states that recognize their proper, constitutional powers relative to those permitted the federal government specifically by the Constitution.

    It should be noted that the potential for such regulatory abuses did not go unnoticed by our Founding Fathers. In fact, they wrote quite eloquently regarding the dangers of “tyranny of the majority”.

    That said, it is up to each of us to resist the federal regulatory state and it’s various manifestations. While urbanites are more than welcome to regulate themselves into submission at the local level, the encroachment upon the rights of rural (and many suburban) citizens by urbanites often manifests in the form of laws and restrictions that clearly run counter to both the word and intent of our founding documents and the freedoms the Founding Fathers wrote very directly about. We do not need to guess at the Founders intent, we need only review primary source documents.

    Specifically as it regards the 2nd amendment, while it has many modern detractors, the intent of the Founders is manifestly clear when the primary source documents are reviewed. Even among the most fierce advocates of civilian disarmament, no serious scholar argues otherwise.

    So while urbanites have voted in great numbers to subordinate their right of self-defense to the state, imposing this paradigm upon other Americans is not, as you say, “majority rule”, but rather Tyranny of the Majority.

  6. brooks Says:

    BWS:

    as i said, i don’t begrudge you your opinions; in fact, there’s a lot of truth to what you say. i grew up, and still reside, in a largely rural area, while still earning one of those fancy educations BoltAction seems to think are so ridiculous. i don’t see myself as one of “you and your type” – we are still all americans, aren’t we? “we don’t tell others how to live”? i’m sorry, that’s just not how i see it when the vast majority of Red States are against consenting adults of the same sex getting married.

    …but i’m getting off track….

    there’s a helluva lot of practical problems involved in implementing the kinds of changes you describe. is this “rural deregulation” to be done on a state by state basis? county by county? should taxes taken from urbanites be spread to these more rural areas as disproportionately as they currently are? if not, how then will roads/schools/powerlines/other necessary public projects be funded? should timber sales be as heavily subsidized are they are now? if not, where will those employeed in that particular industry go? and etc.

    i’m not a regular reader at your blog, so forgive me if you’ve answered these kinds of concerns elsewhere. but if you haven’t– well, then, what you offer in response seems like little more than a very wordy version of “get off my land!” and to that i say, again: why should we listen?


  7. Brooks- some of these subjects I address in other columns, but let me first clarify that I am in no way a proponent of “red states”, nor of the Republican party. I am certainly not in favor of the state telling any group of people, regardless of my personal opinions on the matter, what they can or cannot do as it regards their own property or person. So if I have no interest in same-sex marriages or any other diversionary issues used by the state as tools to maintain the statist paradigm. (see my column “Drugs, self-defense and the state”)

    In other words, I am consistent. My position, and that of this site, is clearly anti-statist. While I accept the minarchist label, my sympathies (if not my practicalities) are with anarchists and agorists. [note: the anarchists hate when I say this because they equate minarchy to statism, but you can’t please everyone].

    The purpose of this column was to identify a clear divide, one of many that exist, in the United States today. Based on the # of views and recent comments, I would say it struck a chord. But the real issue is power. Will power belong to the people or to the state? The original plan was for power to belong to the people. The state, encouraged by urbanites (and others) increasingly holds more and more power.

    That said, and all labels aside, I am not a designer of any ideal society. (In fact, I have argued vocally against “design” in other columns). If anything, I am a Constitutional fundamentalist and support Jeffersonian principles. I would like to see a minimalist federal government as outlined in the Constitution. My view is that we need this minimalist federal government because we are living in a world occupied by other militarized states who do not adhere to the non-aggression principal upon which true anarchy is based. I would like to see local government, and the general citizenry, fiercely independent and wary of federal government. Sadly, this is no longer the case in America. Some of this is simply due to complacency and apathy. However, as the people have voted away more and more of their rights through their support of statist, regulating, career politicians, the federal government has become more and more assertive in expanding its scope and power.

    As for tax distribution, I am vehemently against a wage-earner tax (‘income’ tax), and consider it both unconstitutional and immoral. So I have no comment on how this confiscation of wealth is distributed. But I certainly would not seek to redistribute wealth from one area to another, nor do I support subsidies of any kind, whether they ‘benefit’ rural or urban areas. All of this breeds dependence on the state, and there expands state power.

    Take some time reading through the site for a more clear idea of my views, and those of minarchists. As always, I appreciate feedback, comments and questions.

    “When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

  8. brooks Says:

    BWS:

    thanks for your honest response. the first part of my comment was more a snipe against another commenter rather than a reaction to any of your own thoughts. perhaps i’ll stick around and read a bit.

  9. Joel Says:

    Gay marriage seems to have become a litmus test of tolerance. Red states are intolerant because they oppose gay marriage. Yet blue state people are opposed to consenting adults getting married if they want to marry more than one person, or marry their brother or sister. Gay is “hip”, but polygamy or incest is ignorant. It’s consenting adults either way. The hypocrisy of gay marriage advocates is breathtaking.

    Either consensual relationships involving homosexuality, polygamy, or incest are ALL loving and acceptable, or they aren’t.

    Homosexuality is like smoking. It is a proclivity, a lifestyle choice, a habit, whatever. Smoking is not the same as not smoking. In many ways, not smoking is better. Some people are uncomfortable around smokers, some aren’t bothered. Homosexuality and gay marriage are a similar issues.

    Either way, people are entitled to their preferences. People shouldn’t be forced to either support or not support gay marriage. It should be left to manners, not laws.

    • unitsinc Says:

      “Homosexuality is like smoking. It is a proclivity, a lifestyle choice, a habit, whatever.”

      That is dead wrong, and you had some decent points until you said this. This shows you genuinely have no idea how sexuality works.

  10. joker2600 Says:

    I generally agree with the minarchist viewpoint and see no need for the giant wasteful federal bureaucracy.

    I also agree with the localization of government and thanks to BWS perhaps we should have a different type of politcal system based on geographical determination rather than simple population. Proximity capped laws perhaps?

    I have no wish for the government to stop you from living your life as you deem fit, but I would want them to stop corporations or corrupt individuals that may pollute or destroy the environment in which the ruralists reside.

    And I agree with your general tax views as well.

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog today…a lot of interesting thoughts going on!


  11. […] the nation is currently divided, politically, along what can be considered a conservative/rural versus urban/liberal divide (similar to the red state versus blue state division we’re perhaps more […]

  12. Ssmi Auto Says:

    islander

    Yeah we see those “educated city dwellers”
    all the time on late night TV trying to answer those hard questions like Who is the current Vise President or What color light do you stop for! We will see when Obama shuts this country down who will be feeding them selfs and surviving. And who will be standing on roof tops with miss spelled signs saying
    Hlep us we be hugry

    Let me give you a hint rednecks can take care of them selfs!

    • Garreth Says:

      If you’re going to say city dwellers can’t spell or use correct grammar, you should probably attempt to do so yourself.

  13. barbedwiresmile Says:

    For the record guys: I don’t give a damn about homosexuality. I don’t want the government in anyone’s wallet, field, gun cabinet, OR bedroom. You can’t have it both ways: government is either small and local, or large and intrusive. You can’t have government off your back by hurling it onto the back of someone else. That’s not an argument for or against homosexuality. It’s simply a fact that you cannot control the beast of state once it’s unleashed. Modern America should serve as testament to that fact. Shame on those who would empower the state to reulate that which they find personally objectionable- you are no better than the overlords in congress.

  14. unitsinc Says:

    I think most people that have commented here are definitely in the wrong mind set. The original post was made in a pretty tolerent tone, but since then, more than a few people have been doing some serious name calling.

    The country folk call the city dwellers dumb or stupid and unable to survive should there be some sort of disaster. This sort of talk does not do anyone any sort of service at all.

    The city dwellers call the country folk ignorant and backwards and whatnot and that if everyone lived as they did, there would be no society. Again, the mud slinging does no good.

    BWS seems to bring up a few good points, since the country is divided along rural/urban lines, let the local governments be the ones to set those laws. I think that is good for a start relieving some of the tension that has built over this red/blue divide.

    I don’t believe this is a perfect idea for some of the reasons that have already been mentioned(cities make money, rural areas don’t) but this still seems along the right track.


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