Monday, May 30, 2016

It's A Living

America is made up of states, Canada into provinces, but everyone knows it's regions that count.  Which is why this Washington Post piece by Reid Wilson asks "Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?" He's discussing how Colin Woodard, a reporter from Portland, has split North America into a bunch of different areas with common concerns.  Does this analysis hold up?

Here are the choices:

Yankeedom.  This is the Northeast but also, surprisingly, the industrial Midwest.  There are certain similarities the Rust Belt has with New England but this is stretching it.  According to Wilson, the folks who live here are generally comfortable with government regulation and worry more about the common good (the latter apparently meaning to Wilson they're generally more comfortable with government regulation).  Really?  Tell it to New Hampshire, the Live Free Or Die state. Or the folks in the Upper Peninsula. If this is how Wilson starts, do we need to continue?

New Netherland.  Essentially New York City and those in its orbit.  Considered the most sophisticated and most accepting of the historically persecuted.  Really?  There are plenty of other cities that consider themselves sophisticated--Boston and San Francisco come to mind--and plenty that fight to prove how accepting they can be of the persecuted (as long as they're the right kind of persecuted).

The Midlands.  This is probably the most gerrymandered area, going from Quaker territory to Iowa and much of the Midwest.  Here they don't like government intrusion.  I don't know if it's that simple.  And really, have you ever had a taste of Iowa stubborn?  Is it really like areas hundreds of miles away?  And this area includes Cleveland--why didn't they make it into Yankeedom when Detroit and Chicago did?

Tidewater.  This is Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware along the coast.  They respect authority and tradition.  Hmm.  Maybe they've grown closer, but are Wilmington or Baltimore that similar to Richmond or Raleigh?

Greater Appalachia.  We start in West Virginia and go through the Smoky Mountains all the way to a large portion of Texas.  They're or Irish, English and Scottish origin, and are suspicious of Yankees.  There may be something here, but do we really want to mess with Texas?

Deep South. The former land of slavery of always the land of states' rights.  Since they leave out parts of Louisiana and Florida, they may have a point.

El Norte.  Much of Mexico, Southwest Texas, and the border regions all the way west, also rising up into bits of Colorado and all the way up to Los Angeles.  They believe in hard work and self-sufficiency. (Maybe, but more than others?) I think this area does have a different feeling, with an obvious influence of Latino culture.

The Left Coast.  Once you get above Los Angeles, you go all the way up the West Coast to Alaska.  These people came from the east, and are forward-looking and independent.  Well, they may be independent in some ways, but a whole lot of them sure like to vote for big government.

The Far West.  The Great Plains and the Rockies, all the way up to Alaska.  Big open spaces and very libertarian.  I can see that, though I'm not sure if some outposts, like Denver, really fit in.

New France.  This is a split area, including Quebec and New Orleans.  Very egalitarian, pro-government and generally tolerant.  There is definitely a French connection (even if France might thing itself above them), but I wouldn't go too far with that tolerance stuff--especially Quebec.

First Nation.  Northern parts of Canada and sections of Alaska.  These are areas where the original immigrants to North America still hold sway.  It's a lot of land, but not a lot of people.  I don't know much about these areas, but it would seem the European settlers made sure to take most of the warmest places to live.


Blogger New England Guy said...

Colin Woodard I would call more of a popular historian (he also has a good book on the Republic of Pirates which I just finished) than just a reporter(though I do see that's how he describes himself) and the book on the "American Nations" is a great deal more involved than as presented here and - as I recall, the notion about being pro or anti-government was one of several characteristics of the nations and not the defining one.

You can buy it or not but the Post summary somewhat oversimplifies - though I guess he is rebranding his product a little for relevance in light of the upcoming election

2:59 PM, May 30, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will New England Guy change his name to Yankeedom Guy?

4:55 PM, May 30, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

I can't quite tell if I'm GreaterAppalachiaGuy (GAG) or MidlandsGuy (BookerT)

4:23 PM, May 31, 2016  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I'm not a giant fan of the Sox but still no way in hell would I be called a Yankee (I grew up in PA so feel more like a devil-may-care midlander anyway)

4:39 PM, May 31, 2016  

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