The red-versus-blue state narrative is a nice and tidy one that’s fueled in part by the idiotic electoral college system. Too bad it’s not that simple of a story. It was individual states that divided sharply among red and blue in Tuesday’s election. Texas had its strong pockets of Kerry supporters just as Massachusetts had its loyal Bushies (not that the vote was close in either state, but it’s worth noting that these people exist). This election map from the New York Times illustrates the split beautifully.
From my own experience, I grew up in the “ignorant heartland” of Nashville, then later moved to the supposed bastion of enlightenment in northeastern Massachusetts. In Nashville, I lived among well-educated, creative professors and musicians. In my small bedroom community in Massachusetts, I turned out to be one of a rare handful of people who had ever dared to travel beyond New England. Can you guess where I most often encountered narrow-minded hicks? In fact, I still laugh anytime someone with a thick Massachusetts or New York accent asks where I’m from. When I say Nashville, like clockwork, they ask, “Where’s your southern accent?” as if it’s an impossible thought that I could have thrown off the twin shackles of corn liquor and cross burning long enough to learn how to speak without an accent. (For those who fail to grasp my rapier-like wit, I have only tasted corn liquor once and seen crosses burning only in the movies).
I for one voted enthusiastically for Kerry and shudder at the thought of four more dark Bush years. But my vote had absolutely nothing to do with geography. Reality can be awful messy sometimes.