When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

November 19, 2004



Well, I realize that the Democrats' recent reflections concerning secession are rather whimsical (as is Ryan Sager's contention that it's a step in the right direction). But lest anyone take this proposal remotely seriously I'd like to point out that had the Democrats won a previous election many consider directly analogous to 2004, the election of 1864, the country probably would have split (or rather remained split). The South would have indulged slavery for a few decades longer, and might even have entered WWI on the side of Germany. It's also the case that by 1896 the same sophisticate vs. rube geographic political divide existed in roughly the same pattern as the 2004 red/blue divide, except that it was the Republicans who were the sophisticates and the Democrats who appealed to populism and traditional "aw shucks" values. There have always been times when the sosphisticated observations of the blue people have restrained the excess naivete of the red people, just as there are times when the good sense of the red people have kept the blue people from servile liquifaction in their excessive esteem for things Continental. But realistically, although as a culture we owe a great deal to Bodine and Montesque, we owe hardly a thing to Rousseau.

I'd also like to note that the graphic of the red/blue map is deceptive. Not only are there a lot of red people in the blue areas, and visa versa, but there is a deep and growing consensus in the country that is obscured by this recent electoral split. My impression is that the 2004 election wouldn't have even been close but for two things: the blatantly partisan machinations of the mainstream media to steer public opinion, and the fact that no WMD stockpiles were found in Iraq (which, to many, is the only possible justification for war). No one seems to point out the red/blue breakdown during the Reagan/Mondale election, because there was only one blue state. And Minnesota would be hard pressed to come up with a foreign policy of its own.

Daniel Elazar created a regional characterization of political culture in the US that probably has a great deal more staying power than the electoral breakdown in any given year, and in that typology the upper Midwest has a great deal more in common with Oregon, Washington, Main and Vermont than with the individualistic culture of the lower Midwest, or the traditionalist South. But that, again, obscures what most recent polling identifies as a growing consensus in the country around three *basic* values: equality of opportunity, individual responsibility and anti-statism, and religious sectarianism (or the open competition between religious groups for converts). It is those three values that define both the red and the blue areas of the country, though they may be interpreted somewhat idiosyncratically. What's more, there has been little change in how Americans view these values since we first began modern polling in the 1930s. And though the values are warped and distorted by "anti-American American Left," like Michael Moore, even those folks have a great deal less in common with France than they realize. Moore travels to France, but he doesn't even consider living there. Over the broad course of history it is these three basic core values that keep the nation, and its people, together through political upheavals that tend to toss the political parties right across the whole spectrum of allegiances and issues the way houses are tossed around by cyclonic storms.

As for the Urban Archipelago thesis, any typology that equates Denver with San Francisco is suspect. In fact, I think the only other area of the country that's similar to San Francisco in terms of political culture are a few precincts in southern Oregon, within the Ashland city limits (where they hold the Shakespeare Festival)... which are surrounded by a sea of red that includes Medford and Grants Pass. There are a lot more Oaklands than San Franciscos in the US.

The Democratic Party is at a tipping point right now, and probably can't afford to take a single further step in the direction of San Francisco's idiosyncratic political culture if it wants to ever win another national election.

I tend to think Sully has gone a bit nuts. He needs to talk to a few of the gays I know living in southern Oregon, who haven't the slightest interest in what they refer to with some amusement as "gay marriage." For them, as for their straight neighbors, the issue is US security and foreign policy. And if you ask them why they left the insufferable intolerance and bigotry of the San Francisco "community" you'll get an earful.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

Launched by Demosophist at November 19, 2004 06:13 PM

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