Category Archive 'Red State vs. Blue State'

18 Oct 2017

Blue State Versus Red State

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Four city council members in Ann Arbor, Michigan knelt for the Pledge of Allegiance after their meeting was called to order on Monday night.

In the prosperous home of the elite University of Michigan:

Blunt Force Truth:

5th Ward councilmen Chip Smith and Chuck Warpehoski were joined by 1st Ward council members Sumi Kailasapathy and Jason Frenzel in taking a knee when it came time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the city council meeting, M Live reported.

Warpehoski said his decision to kneel was an “act of attention, concern and respect.”

“I can’t speak to what is in each person’s heart, but for me to ‘take a knee’ is an act of attention, of concern, and of respect,” Warpehoski wrote on his website ahead of Monday’s meeting and also stated at the meeting. “And it is in that spirit that I take a knee at tonight’s City Council meeting: out of respect for the aspiration that we be a nation ‘with liberty and justice for all,’ with full attention that we fall short of that ideal in many ways, and with humble dedication to continue to work that the promise of the pledge may be fulfilled.”

Kailasapathy said during the meeting that she was kneeling for the pledge in order to demonstrate she was committed to upholding Democratic values.

“For me, taking a knee is also showing solidarity with the group of people who have been doing this at the national level,” she said.

The demonstrations reflect the NFL national anthem protests that began last year. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last season in order to draw attention to racial injustice. Some other players in the NFL followed suit, but it didn’t become a national phenomenon until late September of this year after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should not tolerate kneeling during the national anthem.

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Meanwhile incoal mining country, Josh Stowers delivers the national anthem for his workmates before his shift underground in West Virginia every day:

11 Mar 2017

Do It! Do It!

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Kevin Baker, in the New Republic, concludes that the Left really is screwed politically nationally, permanently limited to political control of its one-party-state metropolitan satrapies. The Clinton Archipelago, he concludes, cannot literally secede, but the answer he proposes is de facto secession. The rest of us are supposed to become upset when the liberals shut up, go away, and start leaving the rest of us alone. What a nightmare!

What are we in Blue America going to do about it? What would it mean to remove ourselves as far as possible from the federal government?

For starters, we now endorse cutting the federal income tax to the bone—maybe even doing the full Wesley Snipes and abolishing it altogether. We will raise our state and local taxes accordingly to pay for anything we might need or want. We ask nothing more from you and your federal government. Nothing for infrastructure, or housing, or the care of the poor and sick—not that you gave us much, anyway. All we want is our money, and you can keep yours, dollar for dollar.

No more Obamacare? Hey, that hot mess was tricked out the way it was mostly to appease you in the first place. Since we have nearly all of the country’s leading hospitals, medical schools, and medical research institutes—and a much healthier population, one that’s happily short on automatic weapons—I’m sure we’ll come up with something better.

Go ahead, keep on voting against your own economic interests to satisfy your need to control other people’s bodies, sex lives, and recreational habits. We’ll be creating cities and states that will defend gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and sensible gun control against your intrusive federal judiciary.

Still think FEMA is some kind of liberal welfare scam? Poof—it’s gone! We will never again beg the people you elected to office to help us in the wake of what should have been considered national tragedies, such as September 11 and Hurricane Sandy. Meanwhile, best of luck with all those tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and—all new!—Oklahoma fracking-earthquakes you always seem to be having.

What’s the matter with Kansas? Who cares! This is the good thing about a divorce—the chance to get all of your crazy, deadbeat in-laws out of the house. How can we save Detroit? Hey, she’s your baby now. Didn’t you say something about the private sector, or maybe casinos, or that mortgage loans guy who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers? I’m sure that’ll work out just fine for you.

With all the extra money we’ll have, we can set up our own Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid systems once Paul Ryan manages to “privatize” them for you Trump Staters. And what city is all that privatized money likely to come to, on its way to the markets? Oh, right, New York, which you hate so much! All those extra Wall Street bonuses and dividends will really help the local economy.

What’s more, as a quick glance at the electoral map will tell you, almost all of blue-state America is now concentrated in three contiguous clusters: the East Coast from Maine down through Virginia; the West Coast, along with Nevada and Hawaii; and the Rocky Mountain zone of Colorado and New Mexico. Disastrous as this allocation is when it comes to winning our country’s fatally antiquated Electoral College (is there another republic in the world, or indeed the history of the world, where a party has won a national election by nearly three million votes and still lost everything?), it’s perfect for developing highly efficient, cutting-edge regional networks in everything from transportation to clean energy to health care.

Under the New Federalism, you won’t have to engage in political convolutions to try and reconcile your conservative ideology with your extortionate demands for yet another federal handout. Take Amtrak’s “Acela corridor,” which your commentators like to deride as the route along which we elitist liberals all supposedly live. Fact is, the Northeast Corridor is the only part of our national train system that makes an operating profit. But every year, your Trump State congressmen threaten to pull the plug on Amtrak unless it continues to guarantee daily, money-losing service to all the little towns out on the prairie, in empty, SUV-loving red states like Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas. Then you go right back to fulminating about how much Amtrak costs. This is the legislative equivalent of Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles holding himself hostage at gunpoint to fend off a lynch mob.

Go ahead, end your federal Amtrak subsidies. In their place, we will build fantastic, new high-speed rail systems of our own. They’ll run past our state-of-the-art wind farms, fiber-optic networks, and highways that recharge our self-driving cars as we travel. We also don’t want you to bother us about money to repair your Trump State airports since, as you always claim, we will just be flying over them anyway.

There are still a few kinks to work out, of course. What to do, for instance, about the likes of Illinois and Minnesota, blue states adrift in a red sea? Or all those individual “blue cities” trapped in red states, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, or Cleveland and Columbus? We’ll need to reach cooperative agreements with them to exchange goods and services as needed. They will become stops on our new information superhighways, or on our superfast rail networks, or self-driving highways. Our cool new trains and cars will glide past you all the faster, now that we don’t have to stop in between. Be sure to wave!

A much weightier problem will be ridding ourselves of the Trump States within, our own rural counties full of angry right-wing voters, convinced that their money goes to support welfare queens in the cities even as their last, visible means of support crumble away. Considering how susceptible they are to fake news, one strategy might be to recruit those Russian hackers to create shiny new web sites extolling how wonderful things are in, say, West Virginia, or rural Arkansas. Perhaps, in a historic reversal, it’s time for a mass migration from urban North to rural South, of Trump voters flocking to Red America in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

Whether you stay or go, we’ll be reaching out around the globe to recruit the most talented, intelligent, and ambitious individuals we can find to come to our America. Actually, we already do this, thanks to institutions from Silicon Valley to the University of Chicago, MIT to Wall Street, Hollywood to Broadway. Oh, and be forewarned: We will also be coming for your best and brightest in Red America, offering them free rides at many of the finest universities and research centers in the world. But don’t worry: You’ll still dominate college football!

Read the whole thing.

13 Mar 2016

“I Can Tolerate Anything, Except the Outgroup”

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trump-rally-cancelled
Anti-Trump demonstrators confront Trump supporters in Chicago.

Scott Alexander reflects on American tribalism and the paradoxes of contemporary liberal tolerance.

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: “None at all”.

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.

Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?”

The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!”

And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!”…

Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, saying that “it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other”. Nazis and German Jews. Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. Hutus and Tutsis. South African whites and South African blacks. Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia.

So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, don’t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward. …

The people who are actually into this sort of thing sketch out a bunch of speculative tribes and subtribes, but to make it easier, let me stick with two and a half.

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)

I think these “tribes” will turn out to be even stronger categories than politics. Harvard might skew 80-20 in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans, 90-10 in terms of liberals vs. conservatives, but maybe 99-1 in terms of Blues vs. Reds. …

The worst reaction I’ve ever gotten to a blog post was when I wrote about the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve written all sorts of stuff about race and gender and politics and whatever, but that was the worst.

I didn’t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man. One commenter came out and said:

    I’m surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the “intelligent, reasoned and thoughtful” group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.

This commenter was right. Of the “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people I knew, the overwhelming emotion was conspicuous disgust that other people could be happy about his death. I hastily backtracked and said I wasn’t happy per se, just surprised and relieved that all of this was finally behind us.

And I genuinely believed that day that I had found some unexpected good in people – that everyone I knew was so humane and compassionate that they were unable to rejoice even in the death of someone who hated them and everything they stood for.

Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall – made of these same “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people – the most common response was to quote some portion of the song “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead”. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like “I wish I was there so I could join in”. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a “c’mon, guys, we’re all human beings here.”

I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of “yeah, so what?”, combined with links to an article claiming that “the demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous”.

And that was when something clicked for me. …

[M]y hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe. …

One of the best-known examples of racism is the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” scenario where parents are scandalized about their child marrying someone of a different race. Pew has done some good work on this and found that only 23% of conservatives and 1% (!) of liberals admit they would be upset in this situation. But Pew also asked how parents would feel about their child marrying someone of a different political party. Now 30% of conservatives and 23% of liberals would get upset. Average them out, and you go from 12% upsetness rate for race to 27% upsetness rate for party – more than double. Yeah, people do lie to pollsters, but a picture is starting to come together here.

(Harvard, by the way, is a tossup. There are more black students – 11.5% – than conservative students – 10% – but there are more conservative faculty than black faculty.)…

There was a big brouhaha a couple of years ago when, as it first became apparent Obama had a good shot at the Presidency, Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

Republicans pounced on the comment, asking why she hadn’t felt proud before, and she backtracked saying of course she was proud all the time and she loves America with the burning fury of a million suns and she was just saying that the Obama campaign was particularly inspiring.

As unconvincing denials go, this one was pretty far up there. But no one really held it against her. Probably most Obama voters felt vaguely the same way. I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking people’s heartfelt emotions of patriotism. Aaron Sorkin:

    [What makes America the greatest country in the world?] It’s not the greatest country in the world! We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about.

(Another good retort is “We’re number one? Sure – number one in incarceration rates, drone strikes, and making new parents go back to work!”)

All of this is true, of course. But it’s weird that it’s such a classic interest of members of the Blue Tribe, and members of the Red Tribe never seem to bring it up.

(“We’re number one? Sure – number one in levels of sexual degeneracy! Well, I guess probably number two, after the Netherlands, but they’re really small and shouldn’t count.”)

My hunch – both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify “America” with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically “American” things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics – guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.

That means the Red Tribe feels intensely patriotic about “their” country, and the Blue Tribe feels like they’re living in fortified enclaves deep in hostile territory.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.


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