Response to leftyladyfrommo (Original post)
Fri Nov 2, 2012, 11:25 PM
kurt_cagle (515 posts)
7. Red vs. Blue
Red America is a mixture of Deep South slave gentry (mostly from Southern England) who originally settled the area after coming north from the plantations of the West Indies along with Scots/Irish that settled throughout the Appalachians and from there spread up the Mississippi and Missouri River deltas. They had an uneasy alliance, and the Appalachian settlers generally tended to oppose anyone who was in authority. The Libertarian strain of conservatism mostly derives from the Appalachian settlers, while the Deep Southerners tended to be Aristocratic Monarchists. The other strain of conservatives came from the Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, later New York (when the British effectively captured the city), who were generally socially liberal but fiscally conservative.
Blue America comes from the Yankees - Massachusetts Calvinists, Puritans and Pilgrims, Pennsylvania Quakers and Dutch Amish, German Lutherans. The Tidewater regions of the East Coast tended to be Gentry, with plantations but also with an early history of indentured servitude instead of slavery. Slavery did become institutionalized in both by the mid 18th century, and Maryland was actually a slave state that sided with the Union, holding an internal referendum in 1864 to abolish slavery. West Virginia separated as a free state (the Appalachian regions generally were more sympathetic to slaves) just before the Civil War. Even after the Civil War, Northern Virginia was much more like Tidewater Maryland, generally being more liberal, while downstate and inland Virginia was more like the Southern plantation states. The German Lutherans occupied most of the Northern Midwest, there was a streak of Quakerism that ran through the central part, and then you had the Appalachians run through the south (which is reason that both Illinois and Pennsylvania tend to have three distinct geoethnicities.
On the Pacific West Coast, you had a mixture of Lutheran Swedes and Norse, Yankees from Boston, Northern English and Scottish settlers of a later set of generations, as well as an admixture of Chinese and Japanese brought to work the railroads. Further south (in SoCal) the mix was more heavily influenced by the remnants of the Spanish Empire, Appalachian miners in the Gold Rush, and New York financiers looking to establish a West Coast base, with San Francisco being the dominant city until World War II, at which point a combination of the Naval bases, Hollywood and the ports in Los Angeles and San Diego brought in a lot of GIs and their families (with many of those GIs for the most part representing the Appalachian warrior clans). It's one reason why NorCal, Oregon and Washington are more liberal than SoCal, though as immigration from Mexico and MesoAmerica continues, that's changing as well. It's also one reason why the Coastal regions in these states are generally far more progressive than the drier, higher inland regions.
Texas is the other oddball. Texas itself was one of the few regions in North America to be a fully declared country for nearly a decade before being annexed by the United States in 1845 (Vermont and Hawaii are the other two). It was not a strong slave state simply because Texas was ill-suited for the agrarian slave economy of Georgia or Alabama, but it was considered a slave state, and after the Civil War, many of the aristocrats of the Old South fled there to settle in the East Texas region. When the value of crude oil as a fuel source became evident, many of these same people became wealthy through the oil deposits on their lands. While parts of the state are beginning to trend blue (primarily in the Houston/Galveston region) on the strength of immigration and coastal urbanization, some parts of the state will likely always remain deep Red.
Most of the Blue regions in this country are now coastal. While not always the case, even in "Red" states there's usually a border of bluish purple near the coasts, and inland rivers and lakes (including the five inland Seas of the Great Lakes) tend to be bluer than surrounding areas. It's an interesting question of whether political values are shaped by urbanization, which tends to cluster around waterways, or whether blues tend to be drawn to the coastal regions and settle into urban communities. However, the correlation is very strong. My suspicion is that it's probably a mix of the two - agrarian farming communities form in areas where there is large expanses of tillable land or at least grazing areas, and such communities typically tend to be more conservative and slower changing, while at the same time you get more cultural mixing along the coasts, and people migrate there to be a part of that more dynamic, malleable world.
At least that would be my guess.
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