Skip to comments.One Nation, Slightly Divisible: A Report from “Red” and “Blue” America
Posted on 12/03/2001 6:03:55 PM PST by rface
Sixty-five miles from where I am writing this sentence is a place with no Starbucks, no Pottery Barn, no Borders or Barnes & Noble. No blue New York Times delivery bags dot the driveways on Sunday mornings. In this place people dont complain that Woody Allen isnt as funny as he used to be, because they never thought he was funny. In this place you can go to a years worth of dinner parties without hearing anyone quote an apercu he first heard on Charlie Rose. The people here dont buy those little rear-window stickers when they go to a summer vacation spot so they can drive around with MV decals the rest of the year, for the most part they dont even go to Marthas Vinyard.
The place I am talking about goes by different names. Some call it America. Others call it Middle America. It has also come to be known as Red America in reference to the maps that were produced on the night of the 2000 presidential election. People in Blue America, which is my part of America, tend to live in big cities on the coasts. People in Red America tend to live on farms or in small towns or small cities far away from the coasts. Things are different there.
Everything that people in my neighborhood do without motors, the people in Red America do with motors. We sail; they powerboat. We cross-country ski; they snowmobile. We hike; they drive ATVs. We have vineyard tours; they have tractor pulls. When it comes to yard work, they have rider mowers; we have illegal aliens.
Different sorts of institutions dominate life in these two places. In Red America churches are everywhere. In Blue America Thai restaurants are everywhere. In Red America they have QVC, the Pro Bowlers Tour and hunting. In Blue Americawe have NPR, Doris Kearns Goodwin and socially conscious investing. In Red America the Wal~Marts are massive, with parking lots the size of state parks. In Blue America the stores are small, but the markups are big. Youll rarely see a Christmas store in Blue America, but in Red America, even in July, youll come upon stores selling fake Christmas trees, wreath-decorated napkins, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer collectable thimbles ans spoons and little snow villages.
We in the costal metro Blue areas read more books and attend more plays than the people in the Red heartland. Were more sophisticated and cosmopolitan just ask us about our alumni trips to China or Provence, or our interest in Buddhism. But dont ask us, please, what life in Red America is like. We dont know. We dont know who Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are, even though the novels they have co-writtenhave sold about 40 million copies over the past few years. We dont even know what James Dobson says on his radio program, which is listened to by millions. We dont know about Reba or Travis. We dont know what happens in the mega-churches on Wednesday evening, and some of us couldnt tell you the difference between a fundamentalist and an evangelical, let alone describe what it means to be a Pentacostal. Very few of us knows what goes on in Branson, Missouri even though it has seven million visitors a year or could name five NASCAR drivers, although stock-car races are the best attended sporting events in the country. We dont know how to shoot or clean a rifle. We cant tell a military officers rank by looking at hi insignia. We dont know what soy beans look like when they are growing in a field.
All we know or think we know, about Red America is that millions and millions of its people live quietly underneath flight patterns, many of them are racist and homophobic, and when you see them at highway rest stops, theyre often really fat and their clothes are too tight.
And apparently we dont want to know more about that. One can barely find any books at Amazon.com about what it is like to live in small-town Americaor, at least, any books written by normal people who grew up in a small towns, liked then, and stayed there. The few books that do exist were written either by people who left the heartland because they hated it (Bill Brysons The Lost Continent, for example) or by urbanites who moved to Red America as part of some life-simplification plan (Moving to a Small Town: A Guidebook for Moving from Urban to Rural America; National Geographics Guide to Small Town Escapes). Apparently no publishers or members of the Blue book-buying public are curious about Red Americas eyes.
[[The next section is called, Crossing the Meatloaf Line]]
I encourage everyone to go to their local library and get hold of this issue. I say it is a great article.
Maybe I'll get around to transcribing the next section some other day. (This section probably amounts to 2% of the entire article)
Ashland, Missouri (Red America)
Thank you for posting this, I know transcribing is hard work.
The Atlantic Monthly has a summary of the piece that might be useful to those who are curious, followed by some debate that will make you laugh between normal people who might fit in here at FreeRepublic and loonytunes who clearly come from blue regions and who have never visited a red one. Check out http://forum.theatlantic.com/WebX?.ee71cdc for amusement if you have a minute.
I found this rather interesting from the exerpts they post on the Atlantic Monthly site:
"In Red America people eat meatloaf, dine at Crackerbarrel, shop at Walmart, attend Church and participate in Church-related activities regularly, live near family, obtain minimal educations, hold conservative views on issues like homosexuality and abortion, and enjoy a close-knit community life. "
While lots of this is correct, the "minimal educations" is factually incorrect. Christians (as a group in America), for example, are slightly better educated than the national average.
Jersey City (Close-enough-to-Ground-Zero)
Yeah, like the 20-year-old American Taliban and his flakey bi-coastal parents who paid his way over to fight for them.