Regionalism

Olvlzl seeks to rebut arguments made by conservative pundits that American liberals are all New England elitists.


My experience with New Englanders, and the record would tend to prove it, is that we generally aren’t regionalist snobs, certainly no more than others. There is a problem with New Englanders being favored by the first in the nation primary but that’s true of any place in the country and is in the process of being fixed. There are bigoted idiots everywhere and there are great public servants everywhere too. This isn’t an exercise in regional self-congratulation but to kill the myth. Maybe that can be sent to the toxic waste dump with the rest of Broder’s foetid crock of exercised at a distance, more common in the punditocracy than in the People, pseudo- heartland, self-satisfaction.

Actually, it’s not so much about New England as about big, cosmopolitan cities. Kerry wasn’t just from New England – he was from Massachusetts. Vermonter Dean managed to come off as significantly less arrogant, though it’s probably more due to his style of pandering than due to his home state (Dean is actually as much of a Vermonter as Bush is a Texan; he grew up in the Upper East Side).

As a general rule, oligarchs like nothing less than people telling them to stop oppressing people. In their view, that is in fact tantamount to oppression. The quintessential regionalist in American history isn’t the frontiersman, but the slaveholder, who genuinely believed it was tyrannical for Northern activists to abolish slavery.

Plus, fascists tend to just loathe cities. Part of it is because urbanites don’t generally vote conservative – for example, Berlin was one of Hitler’s weakest areas when he ran in free elections. Another part of it is because the last thing any right-winger likes is a dynamic region, where innovation trumps tradition and where nonconformists can thrive. Yet another is that in the US, the big coastal cities tend to have too many immigrants to register within the average conservative’s comfort zone.

On the other hand, the importance of regionalism in US politics is overstated. The Northeast is as solidly Democratic as the Southeast is Republican, and it’s not because people in New York vote for Presidential candidates based on how close to New York they live. The Midwest, where both parties have a fighting chance, doesn’t really vote for people based on whether they’re from Massachusetts or Texas.

So it’s entirely possible that the “Kerry lost because he’s a Northerner” meme only circulates because it sounds like some special insight. “Kerry lost because he ran a crappy campaign” requires pundits to be able to know what makes for a good campaign and acknowledge that it’s not all about the voters. Concocting some mythical Evangelical backlash and writing about how Kerry was too secular for the electorate (even though his gay rights position is to the right of 60% of American voters) is truthy.

2 Responses to Regionalism

  1. SLC says:

    The last two Democrats to win presidential elections were both Southern governors.

  2. SLC says:

    Kerry lost because of the swift boat smears. This was an example of Joseph Goebbels best known advice. If you tell a lie and repeat it often enough and loud enough, eventually people will believe it.

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