The American Nations Today

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Ever wonder why the U.S. is such a divided nation these days? According to Collin Woodard in his 2011 book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North Americathe differences and rivalries go back to the founding of our nation.

The map above, taken from a article based upon the book, reflects the boundaries of these different cultures. Woodard qualifies these divisions:

“Before I describe the nations, I should underscore that my observations refer to the dominant culture, not the individual inhabitants, of each region. In every town, city, and state you’ll likely find a full range of political opinions and social preferences. Even in the reddest of red counties and bluest of blue ones, twenty to forty percent of voters cast ballots for the “wrong” team. It isn’t that residents of one or another nation all think the same, but rather that they are all embedded within a cultural framework of deep-seated preferences and attitudes—each of which a person may like or hate, but has to deal with nonetheless.”

Where is your county on this map?  Is it a county that borders another region or is it deeply within a cultural region?

My county (Franklin) in central Ohio borders Greater Appalachia to our south and west.  Woodard says this of our region:

“THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.”

This makes a lot of sense to me as we are surely the premiere “swing region” for presidential elections.  I also find it interesting that “the three C’s” in Ohio are in different regions.  Cleveland is in a little corner of Yankeedom while Cincinnati is deeply in Greater Appalachia. Surely this is why state politics in Ohio is so interesting!

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