Since the election, I’ve seen a lot of so-called “progressives” saying incredibly insulting things about people in the “red states”... people who live in states that went to Bush in the Electoral College. I’ve read calls for secession, calls for cutting off federal funding to those states, calls for letting the people there drift into theocratic fascism on their own without the benefit of the enlightened folks in the cities. “They hate smart people,” I’m told. “They’re all evangelistic cult members. Klan members. Screw ‘em.”
The whole “red” or “blue state” thing is ridiculous, of course, an artifact of the Electoral College. It shows nothing of any importance, lumping liberal enclaves in with depopulated deserts or reactionary luxury suburbs. It’s somewhat more instructive to look county by county. Let’s look at, say, Washington County, Utah, probably one of the most homogenous counties in one of the strongest Bush states. It’s in the extreme southwestern corner of the state, in an area known locally as Dixie, and not just because of the climate. Its main settlement is St. George. It’s populated by Mormons and retirees both groups that trend conservative and a few people living on the Shivwits Paiute reservation. Bush got 82 percent of the vote in Washington County. Kerry got 16 percent.
Bad news, right? Look at it this way: In one of the most conservative counties in what is likely the most uniformly conservative state in the US, 6,371 people voted for a Massachusetts senator who had been repeatedly called “the most liberal person in the US Senate.” I’m betting not a one of them got a visit from a MoveOn volunteer or a Kerry for President staffer. It’s not like Utah was ever considered to be in play. And 16 percent of Washington County residents voted for Kerry anyway.
Take that number in one of the most conservative counties in the US, and multiply it by however many counties went red, and thats a lot of liberals and progressives and even environmentally aware conservatives to write off.
And if youre still ready to break ties with the red counties, I have a few follow-up questions for you.
Are you really ready to write off the majority of endangered species in the US, which tend to live in less-settled areas?
Are you really ready to cede control of drinking water quality to the corporate hog farms and gold mines and clearcutters operating upstream?
Are you ready to abandon the red county disenfranchised, the farmworkers and miners and small farmers, just for voting differently than you wanted them to?
Doesnt it bother you that what youre advocating is, essentially, an urban colonialism?
What, precisely, do you plan to eat?
Thank you Sara
This issue marks the departure of Earth Island Journal intern Sara Knight, who has lent her skill and enthusiasm to the previous two issues as well. Sara leaves us in order to go to South America, or New Jersey, or UC Berkeley. She hasnt figured that one out yet. Well miss her. Tempering our grief at Saras departure is the arrival of a whole troupe of new interns, Lisa Katayama and Katie Renz and Chris Keyser. This issue and the usually overworked Journal staff has benefited immensely from their labor.
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