Thursday, October 10, 2002

On Red & Blue
As the Quote of the Day reveals, I am interested in what people have to say on the idea of America and what we as a citizenry are (and what we may evolve into). I've heard it said before that Tiger Woods or a Vin Diesel are going to be the future face of America: of mixed race and identified with no particular one. I think one of the greater trends happening today is the increase in the numbers of people who either refuse to answer demographic questions based on race or check the "Other" box and leave it at that. The faster this country overcomes its obsession with race the better.

Furthermore, the view of America (particularly held by the Europeans) post 9/11 has been highlighted in press reports and such, particularly the nonsensical view that we are cowboys, unenlightened, unsophisticated, etc. It is in this environment that a few writers have ventured to describe the prevalent American character - what is happening demographically, culturally, geographically, socially, etc. I think one way to look at it is to remember how the Electoral Map looked like during the Bush/Gore race for President. The Blue states for Gore were located on the fringes of America - the West Coast, the Northeast. The Red states that went for Bush were from the geographic center: the agricultural West, the Heartland, the SunBelt. Since these areas also are seeing the greatest increases in population growth (while the Blue/Gore states of the Northeast and Industrial Midwest are shrinking in population), its interesting to identify what may be the underlying factors behind this Blue State/Red State divide. Since I'm a New Englander, its even more interesting to view this relationship because I feel in many ways New England is a lot less similar to the rest of the country. (In terms of politics, idea of individualism, land usage & growth issues, religious affiliations, etc.). New England may have been the cradle of the American Revolution, but it is pretty much the casket of the American evolution right now. By this I mean the dynamism and evolution of American society will be predominantly decided by movements/actors residing in the expanding Red States of the Midwest, the SunBelt, and the Rocky Mountain West. Think about it, look who we elect and who lead us:

Sen. Tom Dashle (D - Majority Leader): South Dakota
Sen. Trent Lott (R - Minority Leader): Mississippi
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R - Speaker of the House): Illinois
Rep. Dick Armey (R - House Majority Leader): Texas
Rep. Tom DeLay (R - House Majority Whip): Texas
Rep. Dick Gephardt (D - House Minority Leader): Missouri
Rep. David Bonior (D - House Minority Whip): Michigan
President George W. Bush: (R) Texas
President Bill Clinton (D): Arkansas
President George H. W. Bush (R): Texas
President Ronald Reagan (R): California
President Jimmy Carter (D): Georgia

Clearly, many of our leaders come from the Midwest, the West, and the South. New England is hardly represented nor influential in the political guidance of this country. (Save for brief flirtations with shaky types Ted Kennedy or Mike Dukakis). The fact is, America is decided out there. In suburbs and hinterlands not close to NH. In this regard, I am indifferent. While on the one hand I would sure like to be relevant, the flipside is that New England can enjoy its own pace and its own environs without too much disturbance. This is reassuring.

For an interesting read on the changing face of America and the evolution (and perhaps revolution) underway in the Red States, I highly recommend the lengthy and detailed account written by David Brooks on the American creatures he has termed Patio Man and the Sprawl People.


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