“Why the differences? I’ve long argued that United States politics resolves around the tension between advancing individual liberty and promoting the common good. The regional cultures we think of as “blue” today have traditions championing the building and maintenance of free communities, today’s “red” ones on maximizing individual freedom of action. Our presidential contests almost always present a clear choice between the two, and the regions act accordingly.
The 2016 election was an exception, largely because Mr. Trump did not campaign as a traditional laissez faire Republican. Rather, he promised government would rebuild infrastructure and the manufacturing sector, shield workers from imports and migrant workers, replace the Affordable Care Act with “something terrific” and protect Social Security and Medicare. This delivered critical dividends in rural parts of the communitarian-minded Midlands and Yankeedom, flipping scores of counties that had voted for Mr. Obama twice, most of them in the Upper Mississippi Valley, northern New England and upstate New York.”
By Colin Woodward
New York Times
FREEPORT, Maine — Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most significant and abiding divide in American politics isn’t between city and countryside, but rather among regional cultures. Rural and urban places certainly have distinct interests and priorities, but in our awkward federation their differences have taken a back seat to the broader struggle between our constituent regions.
Sectionalism isn’t, and never has been, as simple as North versus South or an effete and domineering East against a rugged, freedom-minded West. Rather, our true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.
Understanding this is essential to comprehending our political reality or developing strategies to change it — especially as we approach a momentously consequential midterm election.