Two Americas.
November 10, 2000 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Two Americas. This election has made even clear the division existing in America between more liberal city dwellers and the more conservative people who live in the country's rural areas. The election seems to say that the division is about 50-50 without either side having much regard for the other. Can this be remedied? Should it?
posted by owillis (30 comments total)
USA Today had a much better map - breaking the country down by county - but I don't know where to find it...
posted by owillis at 11:09 AM on November 10, 2000

It will remedy itself, as the country gradually develops into a seamless gleaming metropolitan expanse, interrupted only by vast sealed hydroponic farms and waste reclamation facilities.

The erstwhile rural dwellers will be reduced to scavenging in the crevices of the metroplex, dreaming of the days when they had a suburban tract house. Maybe they'll even carry a memento of those days, fingering it desperately in times of trouble.

...meanwhile everyone else will glide at 300mph, wondering why their in-car automatic sushi machine has been producing so much maki lately. Not that they hate maki, mind you, but would it have killed the designers to add a noodle machine while they were at it?
posted by aramaic at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2000

Aramaic, I love you.
posted by solistrato at 11:21 AM on November 10, 2000

i cannot wait for the glorious day when aramaic delivers on his promise of brutal dictatorship. i'm with you all the way, even if it means i'll be the first one up against the wall.
posted by lescour at 11:50 AM on November 10, 2000

There aren't 2 americas. There are two political parties.
posted by s10pen at 12:11 PM on November 10, 2000

Oliver, the thing that baffles me is I don't know anyone on the "other" side too well. Half the country are strangers in my life, as I only seem to interact with people that think Bush is a twit.

I don't know what, if anything, can be done about that, but it strikes me as very weird, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

aramaic for world dictator!!!
posted by mathowie at 12:11 PM on November 10, 2000

Confederation. Substitute "canton" for "state", and you're there. Anyone know the name of the Swiss head of state? Didn't think so.
posted by holgate at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2000

I find it difficult to paint such a huge difference between the urban and rural residents on the basis of one election between two candidates. These two candidates are very similar on a broad range of policial views, many viewed the election as a choice between the lesser of two evils and there are a much greater range of views than expressed as simply as a choice between these two men.

I'm not so ignorant that I would paint this country as one great homogeneous mass of voters that randomly pick a candidate, but mapping voters by county and then making broad assumptions is slightly absurd.
posted by mutagen at 12:35 PM on November 10, 2000

If anyone runs across a list of the presidential election returns by county, let me know, and I'll throw together a map or two.
posted by Aaaugh! at 12:39 PM on November 10, 2000

Matt, my mom and brother voted for Bush. The live in Wyoming and North Dakota, respectively.

Their reasons: Bush is pro-military (moreso than Gore, I guess) and my brother didn't want a president who referred to himself as Al. He was going to write-in his friend that went voting with him, but forgot a pencil.

I think my friend in Florida voted for Bush, too.

posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:39 PM on November 10, 2000

The city-liberal/rural-conservative theory doesn't work. Quite a few of the folks who commute from the suburbs to city jobs will tell you they're very staunchly conservative. And there are plenty of states with a majority of people living in small towns who contribute to the popular election of Democratic governors and state congress members (Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri fer cryin' out loud).

What's really mystifying (to me) why these states tend to swing Republican in presidential elections with so much support for local Democratic candidates... Is it a matter of "We've always voted Republican in the presidential elections", or that people view the President as needing a wholly different set of political policies, or that local Democrats aren't the same in policy and action as Democrats operating at the national level?

ahhh... fergetit. I'm voting aramaic next time.
posted by salsamander at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2000

Aaaugh!, are you sure about that? One source I saw says there are over 3200 separate voting jurisdictions (i.e. mainly counties) in the USA.
posted by dhartung at 1:03 PM on November 10, 2000

This urban/rural thing has been going on for a long, long time. Other countries (e.g. France) have similar problems with it. The urban/rural separation, arguably, was largely responsible for the Civil War.
posted by dhartung at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2000

I'll second dhartung's comments. Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech is the emblematic manifesto of the populist movement, begun over 100 years ago and explicitly decrying city dwellers' arrogance and unthinking policies for the rural side of the country. Ironically, back then the rural areas were the progressives and the city folk were the backward-thinking, elite-driven, know-nothing corrupt republican types (no offense meant, of course).

posted by norm at 1:12 PM on November 10, 2000

The conservative (but not neo-fascist) parties in France polls must strongly in center cities like Paris, Lyon, Strassbourgh (I think)... the economic and cultural orientation of the Upper East Side but the voting habits of upscale suburbs.

And the French suburbs are the most radical of all voting precincts ... because that's where the poor live.

(It should certainly be noted that French conservatives politicians are VERY different in tone from American conservatives -- biggest difference is no presence of evangelical Protestantism informing their traditions.)

posted by MattD at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2000

[mathowie] I only seem to interact with people that think Bush is a twit.

Lucky you. Here in southwest Missouri, it's like living in Bush's national headquarters. Everyone at my office and at my wife's office seem like blind Republicans. They won't admit there's anything wrong with any of their candidates. Worse yet, they listen to and adore Rush Limbaugh, often quoting him like he's an authority on something. Gag!

[salsamander] The city-liberal/rural-conservative theory doesn't work. Quite a few of the folks who commute from the suburbs to city jobs will tell you they're very staunchly conservative.

Ah, but the suburbs don't count. I think urban=liberal/rural=conservative is a pretty good assumption. Suburban, however, is a different category, and it's pretty well split between the two.

[salsamander] And there are plenty of states with a majority of people living in small towns who contribute to the popular election of Democratic governors and state congress members

I think a lot of localish candidates in conservative (southern, midwestern) states are Democrats because the Democrats used to be the conservative party, the party of the South. Up until the last 10 or 20 years or so, southern politics has been dominated by conservative Democrats, just because that's what families have always voted for. As the Republicans have become more associated with the religious right and Democrats more associated with pro-choice/gay rights, that trend has been shifting.
posted by daveadams at 1:30 PM on November 10, 2000

Suburban is easily the most conservative since the people there have little to gain from subsidies or welfare programs like urban and rural people do. With almost every southern farmer in the country suffering from drought, it seems like at least one candidate would address issues like that, which are much more important to rural communities than social issues like abortion, etc. There should definitely be a more inclusive progressive party than the Greens, and without the red scare residue that drives people away from Workers'/Socialist parties. Wilson screwed the progressive movement over big time and I think it is just now recovering.... WJB's policies are still very valid, as are La Follette's and Debs'.

The current zeitgeist is very reminiscient of the 1920's to me. Bush could very well be the next Harding :/...
posted by kidsplateusa at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2000

I live in the central valley of california, where a conservative democrat is about as close as you can get to being a republican. My peers/friends who voted for Bush around here did so purely on a religous, pro-life stance. They would probably be upset at me for voting for Nader instead, but they don't know Who he is.

I think there is definately a strong link between rural/suburban/conservative and urban/suburban/liberal.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2000

It's interesting to watch, to drift in topic a tad, that the increasingly urban Texas has enough Baptists to quit the Southern Baptist Convention. Also, today's Tribune shows charts of Democratic voting increases in the formerly-very-Republican suburbs.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2000

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am an urban dwelling Christian who:

-thinks that Bush indeed is a twit,

-who didn't vote because I am irresponsibly cynical about the whole political system,

-who thinks Gore, though smarter, is no better than Bush in the end,

-who harbors hope that compassionate conservatism can bring real change and really help people in poverty lift themselves out of the pit,

-who thinks liberal social policies enacted over the past 50 years have failed miserably, not only not solving the problems of the disadvantaged, but creating new ways for the lower class to become ensnared in poverty,

-who knows for a fact that many compassionate conservatives are not the deceitful devils that so many liberal minded folks think they are (it seems some think comp. conservatism is merely a pretense for the continuation of old-boys-club policies that serve to preserve power and wealth; it isn't. It is an honest attempt to care for people in new ways that don't depend so heavily on a bloated, ineffective government.)

-who thinks that if the followers of Christ would live as they have been called, the widows would all be fed, the orphans would all be taken care of, and the government would have no reason to get involved in caring for the poor,

-who believes that life in the womb is indeed life and should be protected, yet who has friends and family that have had abortions, and who struggles with the tension created by beliefs that indict my friends as murderers,

-who is often frustrated by the narrow minded, self righteous, liberal bullshit rhetoric often spewed here at MetaFilter,

-who is equally frustrated by the bullshit rhetoric spewed by conservatives,

-who believes that education is necessarily "religious" and "moral," and that requiring people who don't want the state sanctioned religion taught to their kids should not have to lend support (through taxes) to the ridiculously ineffective public school system,

-who believes that this country, as a free republic, is not owned by Christians, Muslims, Atheists, agnostics, secularists, Jews (etc.), and should not be in the business of interfering in anybody's practice of those faiths where their practice does not harm others.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.
posted by ericost at 3:29 PM on November 10, 2000

Your statements about education being necessarily religious and then saying religion shouldn't interfere with other's religious practices are diametrically opposed.

Compassionate conservative? Military intelligence.
posted by owillis at 3:47 PM on November 10, 2000

Sure thing, Dan. Making a map shouldn't be too difficult, using a good GIS package along with a decent base map. All I need now is the data.
posted by Aaaugh! at 3:55 PM on November 10, 2000

people who don't want the state sanctioned religion taught to their kids should not have to lend support

state sanctioned religion? Ummm...
posted by Neb at 3:58 PM on November 10, 2000

The county by county election map.

Yeah, Ericost, everything you said was fine right up to religion in education. There is morality without religion. A case could be made that Public Education needs reform, not be abolished because of a lack of support. Placing the blame on underfunded teachers and adminstrators seems vindicative to me.

posted by capt.crackpipe at 4:50 PM on November 10, 2000

I think that ericost is saying that all education promotes a belief system and an ethical stance.

if the one in common currency deviates from your own, you might feel that your tax dollars are being used to support a world-view that is very objectionable to you.

same as someone else might oppose school vouchers because they don't want their tax dollars supporting a religious belief to which they don't subscribe.

posted by rebeccablood at 5:24 PM on November 10, 2000

Thanks for the link to the map, capt. It's interesting to see how geographic features like the foothills of the Appalachians and the Missouri/Mississippi/Ohio river system were dividing barriers between Bush and Gore.
posted by kidsplateusa at 5:35 PM on November 10, 2000

That's a fascinating map. It looks so like a population-density map already that the differences would be particularly interesting.

Nevada's tentative support for Gore makes more sense now. It's such an overwhelmingly Republican place that I couldn't understand how there was even a question which candidate they would pick. The population theory explains it: all the Democrats live in Las Vegas, Nevada's only real metropolis.

posted by Mars Saxman at 9:38 PM on November 10, 2000

Here's a population density by county map for your comparative pleasure.
posted by youhas at 11:34 PM on November 10, 2000

Drat. I still haven't found any good way to download the entire US county dataset. AP obviously has the data, but either they don't want to share, or I just can't find it. There are so many different things one could show with this data. (I even went ahead and downloaded the 1999 county population estimates from the Census Bureau.) It could be fun - if only I could find the information! If anyone has any ideas where to find county vote totals for the nation, please let me know.
posted by Aaaugh! at 2:00 AM on November 11, 2000 has it but probably not downloadable unless you can pull it via html
posted by stbalbach at 10:54 PM on November 12, 2000

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