It’s interesting, in so many of the election post-mortems, how it is blithely assumed that part of the country has grown more conservative, more separated from the Enlightened parts. (Check out the RSS feed from the New York Times referenced here.) Very strange, given just how liberal the U.S. would look today to visitors from times only decades in the past.

I’m from North Carolina, a Red state with Blue cities. I was born in the rural Red part, and I remember something about the state where I grew up and still live. No matter where what political color you were, what mattered in such important factors as where you went to school — just back three decades ago — was the color of your skin. (That’s still true in a lot of ways, thanks to neighborhood schools, magnets, school transfers, white flight, and a million other reasons, but it isn’t explicitly a legal matter anymore.)

Am I really to believe somehow, living in a state that now has integrated schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and marriages, that the whole state became more religiously conservative, more out of touch than when I was growing up and hearing folks who seemed otherwise normal spouting racist nonsense and trying to back it up with the Bible?

Wow, a couple of elections and a divisive President — elected through slightly less, then slightly more of the popular vote — apparently mean a lot more to our country’s stability than I was thinking. Tell you what, why don’t we play along at home with the new national game? Why don’t we go around believing and telling others that half of the country is crazy and un-American? Does it matter to what party you belong for you to play the game? Apparently not.

Republicans and Democrats, each acting like the other side is stupid, or immoral, or unpatriotic, or crazy…then bemoaning the lack of “bipartisanship” because the other folks — whether they’re talking about the stupid, or immoral, or unpatriotic, or crazy ones — just won’t work with them. 🙂

It would be tempting to observe that we’ve fallen into an era of Springer politics, except for two things. First, it belies the sense of history I try to keep, since past American citizens would probably laugh at our divisions now. Second, I have a feeling Jerry Springer, having been an actual politician, probably has a more nuanced view.

I’m also enjoying the throwing about of the labels “progressive” and “conservative” in connection with the two parties. Don’t those two adjectives/nouns denote verbs…actions which are opposed? Can anyone tell me how “conservative” got ceded to a party that isn’t really interested in conserving anything? In the same vein, it could easily be argued that both parties are interested in progressing to somewhere they think is a better place.

Maybe my disconnect is that I’ve noticed the “progressive” and “conservative” labels seem to apply more to people — specifically, their individual beliefs and desires — than to the parties for which they vote. Are there truly that many folks who can say they agree with every plank of their party’s platform? Probably not…but we vote for the party that makes more sense to us, given what we think is important, and we try not to think about how poorly those two choices really fit what we want and need.

I read laments each day now that we’re split into two countries — into our separate states, colored Red and Blue, and that situation worsens every election — by folks who should know better from their own experiences. If NY is Blue, and Blue means irrevocably Democratic, then why Pataki/Giuliani/Bloomberg? If NC is Red, meaning “We’re all Republicans down here, y’all,” then why a hundred years of almost uninterrupted Democratic governors?

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Maybe I’m just tired of seeing maps. 🙂