Why Our Country Is So Starkly Divided

Although Donald Trump’s election as President in 2016 was a fluke in the sense that the three purple states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania barely carried him over the finish line with a total three state margin of just 77,000 votes, it also reveals the stark division of our country into red and blue pieces (see first map):

  • As of the November 2018 national elections, 30 states (see second map) now have both legislative chambers controlled by Republicans, 19 states have both controlled by Democrats and only one state – Minnesota – has a split legislature. (Nebraska, the only state with a unicameral legislature, is in the Republican group.)
  • We’ve known for some time that the red–blue divide is to a large extent rural–urban, with minorities, who usually vote Democratic, packed into cities while Republicans are more evenly spread out and thus dominate the rural areas.
  • Would you rather drive a Prius or a pickup truck? Would you rather eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes or chicken curry and vegetable biryani?  According to the authors of Prius or Pickup, how you answer these questions reveals a lot about how you vote!
  • The political analyst, Christopher DeMuth, distinguishes between the elite “anywheres” who are not especially tied down to any one particular geographical location and the less educated “somewheres” who are more likely to live where they grew up. The “anywheres” are well educated, articulate and mobile and well positioned to influence the administrative state and the judiciary.  The “somewheres” are more beholden to their congressional representatives for political support.  As the federal government grows ever bigger and more complicated, and Congress willingly forfeits more of its power to the administrative state, the influence of the elite “anywheres” is strengthened at the expense of the non-elite “somewheres”.

The less educated, more rural “somewheres” are revolting and have, for example, demanded restrictions on immigration and foreign trade which they see as threats to their traditional way of life.  This has turned them into avid supporters of Donald Trump who has adopted their wishes as a major part of his agenda.

Summary.  The nationalism springing up all around the free, democratic world is a natural reaction by the non-elites to the increasing complexity of modern society and the growth of government to deal with this increasing complexity.

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