What did we learn from the election? We learned there is a great divide in this country. Here’s how I characterize it.
The 15 largest Metropolitan areas in America heavily favored Kerry over Bush (11 to one with three split)
The 15 smallest counties in America heavily favored Bush over Kerry (13 to one with one split)
The 15 largest counties favored Kerry over Bush (eight to four with three split)
The ten richest counties in America were split (three for Bush, three for Kerry and 4 split)
The 20 most literate cities in America favored Kerry over Bush big-time (13 to two with five split)
Among the 20 most educated states it was a rout: they favored Kerry over Bush (15 to 6 (there were two ties))
The 20 most educated cities were smart enough to favor Kerry over Bush (15 to two with three split)
The 15 healthiest states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Dakota, Washington, California, and Oregon) favored Kerry over Bush (11 to four). Call it a benefit of lots of oxygen to the brain.
It gets worse, a friend sent me a map of the United States labeled: “Pre-Civil War Free vs. Slave States.” At the time the map was done, a lot of states were territories. There was the Kansas Territory which included part of what is today called Colorado, the Nebraska Territory which included part of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Utah and New Mexico were territories and were much bigger than they are today.
The map divided the states and territories into three categories: (1) Free States and Territories; (2) Slave States and (3) Territories Open to Slavery.
The whole point of the map is that if you lay those breakdowns over a map of the United States labeled “2004 U.S. Presidential Election Results” you get a not very surprising result. Slave states (with the exception of Maryland) went for Bush.
Free States, with the exception of those parts of the Nebraska Territory that are North Dakota and South Dakota, and with the exception of anomalous Iowa, went for Kerry.
Territories Open to Slavery went to Bush. That is incendiary stuff. One must take great care in presenting material of that nature.
So again, what does all this mean? It means that the bigger the city you live in, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. It means that the more educated the city you live in, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. It means that the more literate the city you live in is, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. The healthier the state you live in is, the more likely is that it went to Kerry. But none of this is scientific. It is amazing to me that the most educated cities, the healthiest states, the most literate cities, and etc. are disproportionately represented on the east coast, the west coast, and in the Upper Midwest.
All those statistics are fun, but what it comes down to is this: The South, the Bible belt, and the Mountain States went for Bush. It should be noted that it is tougher to get oxygen in the mountains.
The East coast (above the 38th parallel), the Upper Midwest, and the West coast all went for Kerry.
There is a historical significance to this divide.
It’s fundamental to the makeup of our nation. At least one man gets it. Karl Rove.
Karl Rove determined what appeals to rural folks (I’m told now it’s the big three God, guns and gays) and he also figured out how people are distributed – enough to determine that his message would play well in the part of the country where it needed to play well in order for his guy to win.
So here’s what I think the message is: the more urban the setting, the more diverse, and the more expansive your world view. If empathy is a guide to our decisions, if humanizing a subject can influence how we think about it, then living in major metropolitan areas changes people. Whenever I go to New York, I always think that if every American lived there for two years, it would change the world. Whatever ism you’ve got, whatever phobia, you would overcome it in a sea of diversity – religious, ethic, national, sexual, physical, mental, educational, gender, age and political diversity.
By contrast, if you’ve never actually met a Muslim, or never lived next door to a wonderful couple who happens to be gay or lesbian, if you don’t know anyone who is an Iraqi or an Iranian, it is much more difficult to empathize with those who you do not encounter.
In fact, I’ve been completely shocked by some of the things I’ve read in the conservative blogosphere. People speak openly about being disgusted by homosexuality, and people talk openly about us America as a Christian nation.
One of the most popular bloggers in the conservative realm, wrote the following homophobic vitriol just the other day:
…your assumption is that we conservative Christians want to establish a theocracy. Far from it. In the same manner libertines want to be left alone, I want to be left alone. I don’t want their perversion in my face. I don’t want them suppressing my right to express disgust. I don’t want them making a mockery of the foundation of marriage or bulldozing the values I hold dear…
Unrelated news flash: Nikki Hilton is annulling her August marriage. Let’s see, four months, nope, no mockery there. No bulldozer either. At her current pace, she can get married 3 times a year for another 50 years, and as long as she doesn’t try to marry a woman, she can count on the support of the state and the (silence is) complicity of conservatives everywhere – they’re too busy with “the gays."
Later, in reply, another conservative wrote:
… We are a Christian nation, and I will not apologize for it. I also will not take my Christianity (not religion) and hide in a closet, so no one ever has to know or hear the word Christian or God. If you don’t like it, too bad! Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power unto salvation…”
If anybody doesn’t like living in a Christian nation such as America, they are more than able to move elsewhere, instead of telling me that I can’t speak about God and Christianity…
Read these quotes
and more here (quotes are from the comments).
I must be candid. I think these feelings are born of an impressive ignorance. We are all products of our environment, and if your environment is intolerant, limited, ignorant and homogenous, it impacts you. See the above.
Two concluding thoughts: First, do I think that urban folks are better than rural folks? No.
Do I think they have an advantage over their rural counterparts? Yes.
Why? Well, I think it’s because they have more information; I think they’re nurtured better by their environment.
Which leads me to my second point: I think that as the information age expands, there is a potential for the world to change. There is the potential to be more informed, and I think that the more informed you are, the less likely you are to be hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray. Which is my way of saying, the less likely you are to vote for Bush.
Although, the conservative blogosphere proves my information-age theory wrong every single day. In fact, it shows that there is a unlimited capacity to whip ignorance into a nice frothy frenzy that’s easy to sell and (so it seems) even easier to drink.
Does all that selling and drinking sound familiar? Think Karl and the 2004 Election.