The Maps That Show That City vs. Country Is Not Our Political Fault LineRoundup
Colin Woodard is the author of “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most significant and abiding divide in American politics isn’t between city and countryside, but rather among regional cultures. Rural and urban places certainly have distinct interests and priorities, but in our awkward federation their differences have taken a back seat to the broader struggle between our constituent regions.
Sectionalism isn’t, and never has been, as simple as North versus South or an effete and domineering East against a rugged, freedom-minded West. Rather, our true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.
Understanding this is essential to comprehending our political reality or developing strategies to change it — especially as we approach a momentously consequential midterm election.
Tracing our history, I’ve identified 11 nations, most corresponding to one of the rival European colonial projects and their respective settlement zones. I call them Yankeedom; New Netherland; the Midlands; Tidewater; Greater Appalachia; Deep South; El Norte; the Left Coast; the Far West; New France; and First Nation. These were the dominant cultures that Native Americans, African-Americans, immigrants and other vital actors in our national story confronted; each had its own ideals, assumptions and intents.
comments powered by Disqus
- How the Black Power Movement Influenced the Civil Rights Movement
- Nine books to read for Black History Month
- A Bittersweet Homecoming for Egypt’s Jews
- Institutional racism and minimal recognition: Inside Du Bois’ complicated history at Penn
- President Trump's Take on Parasite Echoes an Old Debate Over the Role of Non-American Films at the Oscars
- Gordon Wood Reviews Mary Beth Norton's ‘1774’ for the Wall Street Journal
- Black Perspectives Reviews Black Banking and Women Financial Power Brokers
- A lost history, recovered: Faded records tell the story of school segregation in Virginia
- H.R. McMaster book `Battlegrounds’ coming out in April
- Trump loves ‘Gone With the Wind.’ Historians, not so much.