11 Nations or 1?



"People choose to move to places where they identify with the values," Woodard says. "Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller."  Woodard


"Nation" is a much abused and misunderstood word in today's America.  Many Americans think the word means country as in "nation-state," a term that denotes a state the boundaries of which include within it just about all the members of a particular culture.  The construction of "nation-states" has often been an obsession .  France is an example.  The present country includes regions that were once culturally dissimilar.  Brittany, Guyenne, Normandy, Savoy were all regions that Louis XIV  and company obsessed over in the hope of absorbing them politically and culturally.  If you doubt that, drive around France and visit weekly village markets for the purpose of listening to them speak.  The record of their ancestral differences is evident from their speech.  "Nation" is  a term implying IDENTITY.  It is not a matter of lines drawn on maps. 

There was an earlier book entitled "The Nine Nations of North America" by one Joel Garreau.  That book had much the same thematic material as this.  I was much impressed with the earlier book and plan to read this one if my cataract surgery is successful. 

There is always a lot of loose talk about "The American People."  IMO that kind of talk is unproductive and largely the result of generations of nationalist (Yankeeland in source?) propagandist conditioning of children in the public and private schools, schools that function largely as training centers for this nationalism and the creation of an electorate that has  utopian expectations of government benevolence.

In spite of this program of indoctrination, cultural differences among citizens of the US persist on the basis of regional culture of various origin, and indeed, as Woodard writes, these differences are growing stronger as the population of the country re-distributes itself.

An example is the movement of large numbers of people from outside the "Tidewater" area into eastern Virginia, sufficient to have made the state Blue (Democrat) when it had long been "Red." (Republican).  pl



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35 Responses to 11 Nations or 1?

  1. chris moffatt says:

    Hard to imagine that woke eastern and southern Ontario has anything in common these days with “the middle”.

  2. Keith Harbaugh says:

    You write of

    … generations of nationalist (Yankeeland in source?) propagandist conditioning of children in the public and private schools,
    schools that function largely as training centers for this nationalism and the creation of an electorate that has utopian expectations of government benevolence.

    Really? I think there is something missing here.
    Consider, for example, the McGuffey Readers, of which Wikipedia says:

    McGuffey is remembered as a conservative theological teacher.
    He interpreted the goals of public schooling in terms of moral and spiritual education,
    and attempted to give schools a curriculum that would instill Presbyterian Calvinist beliefs and manners in their students.
    These goals were considered suitable for the relatively homogeneous America of the early- to mid-19th century, though they were less so for the increasingly pluralistic society that developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

    I was raised in those “Presbyterian Calvinist beliefs and manners”, and can tell you that they emphasized a sense of discipline and restraint, and resisting temptation.
    The entire punishment/reward system attempted to get people to obey those precepts.
    On the other hand, in our more recent culture, temptations are all too often encouraged, and those who succumb to those temptations are viewed as victims who deserve support.
    Perhaps our former Protestant/Calvinist-dominated culture had its merits (I certainly think it did).
    Note also that prayer in the schools was a requirement until it was ruled unconstitutional (Engel v. Vitale),
    largely at the request of the Jewish community.
    If ever there was a disastrous policy change, that was one.

  3. Susan says:

    I don’t mean to quibble but shouldn’t the title be ’11 Nations or 3′?

  4. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    All of that sounds like Yankeeland inspired training to me.

  5. srw says:

    Read the book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America” by Colin Woodard several years ago. In my experience his depiction of the spread of “Yankee Land” from the northeast to as far west as eastern SD, ND, and all of MN is spot on. Besides the numerous Scandinavian and German settlers to these states where Yankeedom values of education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government found ready adherents, a lot of north easterners settled there. In my case, ancestors since the 1870’s include easterners from upstate NY, VT, and RI. The book also stated that “Yankee Land” culture and values also spread to the Pacific Northwest and western California. Can’t readily think of any names I know that came from very far south, probably too cold up in the upper mid-west.

  6. turcopolier says:

    SRW. Didn’t realize it was that old. My Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors marched steadily westward until they reached the marches of North Dakota. Then most of them said the hell with this and rode the Great Northern to Seattle, a western paradise.

  7. J says:

    NYC’s Bloomberg spent money helping to change Virginia from Red to Blue.
    And then you have the redistricting issue of changing the map to suit one’s purpose.

  8. turcopolier says:

    The truth is that old timey Virginians are simply outnumbered now.

  9. srw says:

    Sounds a lot like my ancestors and relatives. Have a lot of distant cousins in Seattle and Oregon. Most of them left SD and ND during the 30’s and dust bowl days (although not as bad as OK, TX, and KS). Some even made it to California.

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What was the Culture of Old Virginie? Can you furnish examples please?

  11. Upstate NY'er says:

    Hasn’t Virginia become Blue because of the Federal government sprawl, capturing NOVA by Federal employees – almost all being Democrats, the party of bigger and bigger government?
    I like the idea of moving large parts of the bureaucracy out of Washington DC/Virginia.
    Expose the pencil neck drones to real people.

  12. Upstate NY'er says:

    That happened in Vermont too.
    The transplants (and their spawn) simply outnumbered the Vermonters who were friendly and welcomed them not realizing that the transplants’ (hippies and white guilt trust funders) goal was to turn Vermont into Cuba with snow.

  13. voislav says:

    The cultural differences between states are more of a narrative rather than reality. County by county map looks completely different, blue vs. red divide is really urban vs. rural. Most of the north is red, except for the big cities. Old South has a surprising amount of blue counties, same or more than the northeast. University of Michigan has a nice set of maps on their site, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2016/
    It’s similar in Canada, for example Ontario has Conservative government in power, led by Doug Ford. So it’s blue only in the sense that that is the colour of the Conservative party, while Liberal colour is red, reverse from the colours in the US. Conservatives were also in power at the Federal level from 2006 until 2015, so throughout the Obama presidency. Again, hardly the solid blue that is typically represented in these types of maps.

  14. Terry says:

    My ancestors started out in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, then Sandwich, then Connecticut, including land grants in Voluntown (King Philips war) before heading to New York. From there west hugging the Great Lakes and the Northern border until they ran into the plains and stopped. Helping to build Yankeeland all along the way, and no use for highly urban areas. Fans of the forest and living close to the land. On the other side it was the Mayflower and much the same story, with immigrants marrying in every generation or so.
    Your comments on Yankeeland are spot on.
    I think part of those cultural zones are people of like values and backgrounds gathering together but also because people were hunter/farmers and stuck to the climate zones where their crops, animals, gardens would thrive, the animals they hunted were familiar, and they had genetics, skills and customs adapted to the climate zone they followed.

  15. J says:

    Democratic candidates ran all but 4 of Virginia’s 40 Senate districts and all but 8 of 100 House districts. The GOP had candidates in just 25 of Virginia’s Senate districts and 72 House districts.
    Was somebody asleep at the switch at Virginia’s and the National GOP or what.

  16. Diana C says:

    As the granddaughter of immigrants who came to Colorado from the Volga and Black Sea areas of Russia, I always felt they came to this part of the U.S. because it provided them a way to continue their particular farming culture and to practice their particular Pietist Christian religion, a form of religion they took from Germany into Russia first.
    My grandparents expected us to become loyal American (U.S.) citizens, but to be first Christians and idividuals.
    Is this the old Melting Pot idea vs the newer Tossed Salad concept of the U.S. that you are describing?
    I’ve been watching on and off the clown show of the impeachment hearings It does frighten me a bit since the stupidity and the ridiculous behavior does seem to represent a drastic decline in our educational systems and our “culture” all across the U.S.
    I put my hope in the home school, charter school, and private school movements. Each of these movements may emphasize slightly different things, but in most of them the values of reading, studying, learning and developing values of hard work and individual responsibility are evident.
    There may be regional differences that are quite noticeable when a person travels across the U.S.; but what I see when I see Trump’s rallies, no matter where he holds them, a quite similar and unified desire to rip control of our politics away from the “normal” that has developed in the New York and D.C. institutions. The old idea of Mr. Smith going to Washington D.C. and remaining Mr. Smith may still be alive in all of us. That is the true idea of American individualism.
    I don’t know how, however, the cities of on the West Coast can survive as they are now. We’ll have to wait and see–though I may be dead before a real metamorphosis happens there. It’s too bad, too, since the scenery is beautiful if one looks only out toward the ocean.

  17. Nancy K says:

    Populations have historically moved across the US and with the cost of living in large urban areas and suburbs so expensive, I believe there is going to be an even larger migration in the future. My father and his family came from Kansas to CA during the dust bowl and depression and my mother’s father came from Oklahoma with his family. I moved to NC from CA 8 years ago partially to live near my daughter and grandchildren and also because it was much cheaper. My brother and part of his family just moved from CA to Texas because financially it worked better for them. Some areas will become
    bluer but it can also work in the other direction.
    Since prehistoric man, there has been migration

  18. turcopolier says:

    Immigration to the state has turned some districts so blu that it is not worth running in them.

  19. turcopolier says:

    The county party maps are interesting but your argument is not. Yes, the north is mostly red. That is because the populations of the rural areas are different culturally from those in the cities. The same thing is true in the South where the blue enclaves are usually minorities who do not share the larger culture.

  20. turcopolier says:

    Upstate NY’er
    i believe I said that, but it is actually worse than that. The immigrant population has spread down both sides of the !-95 corridor to beyond Fredricksburg.

  21. Fred says:

    If you vote the same way in NC that you did in CA you’ll get exactly the same result.

  22. turcopolier says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Virginia it was a culture that tended to be more tribal(i.e., vertically identifiable) rather than organized by economic strata, although there were always people who had a lot more money than others. For example, marriage within lineage groups was common even when the branches of the tribe were not equally prosperous.


    OK, thanks.
    What was the main Protestant Church there?

  24. prawnik says:

    I haven’t seen much intellectual achievement in eastern ND/SD or northern MN.
    Quite the opposite – people don’t like or trust intelligence, and intellectuals are, for better or worse, seen as thinking they are better than ordinary folks.
    Rather, the mundane, stolid and conventional are prized.
    Not a value judgment, just calling it as I see it.

  25. turcopolier says:

    Low Church Episcopal was the sect of the true elites with Presbyterians thick in the western part of the state.


    So Virginia was the best-educated member of CSA? The best generals came from Virginia, no?

  27. Susan says:

    Sorry I missed your response yesterday. What I’d noticed is the map I see shows what are presently Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

  28. Terry says:

    Intelligence is valued but applied to practical/pragmatic skills.
    The Western edge of Yankeeland was populated by those that followed and preferred the frontier life and disliked the bad morals, big city, big egos, and slick ways of the over-governed East (Not my opinion just the one I was surrounded by growing up).

  29. Terry says:

    Because we only have red and blue to choose from. Cultural differences are harder to express in a binary system.

  30. turcopolier says:

    You either did not read the post or are not too swift .

  31. turcopolier says:

    The upper classes were actually better educated than in the North. SC had more Yale graduates than any Yankee State. We had a lot of good officers. If you read “Lee’s Lieutenants” by Freeman you will understand. Thestate militia tradition was much stronger in the South and there were a number of excellent state military colleges.

  32. ted richard says:

    Throughout history all multi cultural/ethnic empires are held together by force of which educational propaganda in schools is but a velvet kind.
    once the center fails in this case washington and their ability to control the narrative aka: propaganda….)(just ask cnn,nbc,cbs,nyt,wash post, et al about how much influence they have lost to control the official STORY) the various cultures within the previously glued together nation fly apart from centrifugal force.
    this was evident as the ussr broke up and is now becoming evident here.

  33. artemesia says:

    Wish you well on the cataract surgery, and assume that means the deriding procedure went well.

    The Charlottesville event was a direct outcome of the systematic migration of New Yorkers and other persons not of the Old South into that charming town. Clinton’s McAuliffe followed, then led. How sad for Virginia.

  34. prawnik says:

    While you are right not to confuse “intelligence” with “education” (and I should have made my point better), what they prize in ND/SD/northern MN isn’t really either.
    Maybe “practical skills” is the word for it.

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