This Week’s Mtg: Red Versus Blue — The Cultural Divide

This one was also Steve’s idea, and he’ll lead us again.  Why do another one on the red/blue divide?  Why not?  It’s the core issue in American politics.  But, also, so that we can focus an entire meeting on maybe the biggest – and least bridgeable — difference between the two warring sides: Culture.   

Remember that old leftie slogan, the political is personal?   Well, one sense in which it’s true is probably different than the way they meant it.  Most people don’t think about politics a lot or in a systematic way (why should they?).  Thus, regular people, unlike professional political types, don’t have well-developed ideologies.  Instead, their political opinions stem from their personal philosophies, which in turn are derived in large part from their cutural values.  Since the U.S. is so diverse culturally,  the fundamental cultural differences beget huge political differences.  Religious v. secular.  Hierarchical v. communitarian.  Old-fashioned v. modernist.  “Conservative” versus “liberal,” when you think about it.  Roe v. Wade.

So, let’s focus this week on the varieties of American culture, and how those differences have aggravated our political divide, the divide that, in our last two blue/red meetings, we have largely attributed to ideology ior structural factors like economics. 


Here are some to get you started.  Like last week, these are mine and I’ll add Steve’s later.

American Cultural Differences —

  • The 12 States of America:  An amazing interactive map breaking down American communites into 12 types, based on which demographic group dominates.  From “evangelical epicenters” to “moneyed burbs” to “tractor country.”   The map can be a little misleading, IMO, but it’s useful in helping illustrate our regional cultural differences.
  • Interactive map showing “good” and “bad” social indicators for all 50 states (crime rate, teenage pregnancy, income, HS grad rates, etc.)

The Cultural Divide Itself —

  • Basics of the red/blue cultural divide, by the (opinionated) authors of a recent book, Red Families Versus Blue Families. 
    • Shorter and sweeter summary here.
    • NPR interview with the authors (listen or read the transcript).
  • There’s even a cultural divide in pop culture tastes; e.g., Republicans love NCIS while Democrats prefer CSI Miami!
  • Policy differences:  The red/blue cultural divide is especially pronounced on family policy, on whether and how to extend government help to women and their children.  Also, the new GOP war on abortion (rights) in Congress and the states.

Come one come all.

UPDATES:  More links from me that I’ve linked to before for our tea party discussions:


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