Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nether Regions

American regionsI’m having a relaxing day watching football on TV, because today’s Notre Dame game against Southern Cal isn’t until 7:30 pm. It’s the first night game here in something like twenty years, so the place should be rockin’! (I.e., people will have more time to party.) We’ll head out in a little bit to grab a bite to eat, and hopefully hook up with my sister her husband and some friends who will be tailgating. GO IRISH! It’s supposed to get down to the low 40s (F) tonight, so I’m dressing in layers, and I’ve got a scarf and gloves. (I shall fluff them before leaving. Private joke!)

I read a really interesting article today: “A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party” by Colin Woodard. It’s fairly lengthy, but I found it a fascinating read. It’s got several things I love, like politics, history, and regional differences. What Mr. Woodard posits is that our political terrain is much more complicated than north vs. south, or the coasts vs. the heartland. He divides the country into eleven distinct political regions, and relates the popularity of the tea party to various regions.

These regions have shifted and changed over our history, and although it’s a slow process, it does happen. Mr. Woodard believes that the unique psychological, historical, and nationality makeup of the regions forms their political leanings and whether they accept or reject tea party ideas. I think it’s obvious that he’s not enamored of the tea party, and he lays out his reasons for thinking that it will not be a lasting phenomenon, or at least not win over the majority of the country.

I found the entire article really fascinating, and I would tend to agree with most of it. I found that the map was accurate at least for my area. People often make remarks to me about Indiana being such a Republican-leaning state, and overall it is. They wonder how I can stand it. Well, the counties closest to Lake Michigan and the Chicago area are Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and my county, St. Joseph. We all tend to lean and vote Democrat, for the most part (in the rural areas of the counties, not as much). I think it has mostly to do with the strong manufacturing and union presence in these counties. The county immediately to my east, Elkhart, is strongly Republican, as are the counties to my immediate south. The larger cities and college towns also tend to lean Democratic. So I’m floating in a little blue sea amidst an ocean of red!

Indiana, according to the article, seems to have three different political attitudes or regions: Yankeedom (that’s me), the Midlands, and Greater Appalachia. Based on migration patterns and the history of settlers over the years, this makes a lot of sense to me. I can’t speak to the accuracy of what he writes about the other regions, really, because I’m not as familiar with those areas. If you live in those areas (and you have the time to read the article), do you agree with the assessment of the author?

I also found it fairly encouraging, because I don’t think the teabaggers are going to take over the country. They’ve driven the debate to an unwelcome extent, even to the point of harming the country’s recovery in order to damage President Obama. I think this small faction had some legitimate things to say about government spending (although I still wonder where they were when President Bush was driving up the deficit with two unfunded wars and an unfunded prescription drug program), but they’ve pretty much jumped the shark, and the majority of Americans recognize that and do not approve. The tea party has had their moment in the sun (I hope they made sun tea while they were at it), and the world has moved on.


  1. It's interesting that the Southeasternmost part of Louisiana is distinguished from the rest of the deep South.... I do think New Orleans is significantly more progressive than the rest of the South!

  2. I'm glad you are safely in your little blue sea.

    I won't underestimate the opportunism of the tea party or overestimate their itelligence. They will agree with almost anything that allows them to attack Obama. These debates have certainly made a mess of the Republican party which may be one of their back ddor tatics after all.


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