Why Red and Blue?

fearWhy are some States red and some States blue? Is there a feedback mechanism in politics that promotes and maintains polarization? One candidate is fear.

Why is NY-23 predominately Republican when NYS is predominately Democratic? The answer is fear–Western NY politicians thrive on it.

    • Fear of domination by urban interests.
    • Fear of firearm restrictions.
    • Fear of minorities.
    • Fear of each other.

ithacaCurrently NY-23 politics is dominated by suggestions that we fear Tompkins County liberalism, socialism, immigration, the SAFE Act, taxes, those struggling with poverty and low wages, and the unemployed. These fears are actively promoted with political advertising, Tom Reed’s for example:

    • Martha Robertson and Nancy Pelosi are two of a kind. The two liberals spent this weekend together, advocating failed, big government policies across Western New York. (actually, they were celebrating and affirming women’s rights)
    • Once again, our Second Amendment rights are under attack. Liberal politicians from Albany to Washington are working to curb our rights and penalize law-abiding citizens.
    • Martha Robertson claims to support our community yet she continues to unfairly punish working families by voting for drastic tax increases, burdensome regulations, and reckless spending in the legislature.

red blueFear also works to maintain a sea of less populous red States with a fringe of more populous blue States. Red State politicians maintain their offices by fanning fears or eastern elites and California liberalism. Red and blue struggle over Federal spending–which States win and which States lose.

Fear may explain regional differences on abortion and climate change. In less populated red regions, politicians, seeking election by fanning fear of depopulation, promote opposition to abortion, while fear of environmental pollution and global warming leads to support for limiting greenhouse gases in more populous regions.  The oft echoed argument against big government reflects fear of one’s neighbors–something that urban residents have learned to live with while rural residents have not.

How might the tendency to concentrate red and blue in disjoint regions be reversed? Perhaps all or some representatives to Congress ought be elected at large. At large representatives would reflect a national consensus of the public interest rather than regional interests. At large election would counteract the tendency of local politicians to become entrenched in office. At large representatives, drawn from a nationwide pool of candidates, ought to have superior qualifications to those having only local renown.

© William Hungerford – July 2014






About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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8 Responses to Why Red and Blue?

  1. BOB McGILL says:

    Fear might noy be the only reason. For example the Blue states are also experiencing a BRAIN DRAIN 🙂


  2. josephurban says:

    I agree with the author. The urban-rural differences are much more pronounced than many regional differences. Urban areas tend to be more democratic, more tolerant of differences, much more diverse ethnically and contain more centers of culture. The rural areas tend to be more republican, more traditional and change-averse, more church-going, less diverse culturally and ethnically.

    Take the gun control issue as an example. While in rural areas guns are an integral part of life, based on hunting and target shooting that is not the case in urban areas. In urban areas gun are much more likely to be associated with crime and gang violence. So city folks cannot understand why rural folks get so upset at the slightest mention of gun control. And rural folks don’t understand what it is like to live in neighborhoods where gangs use loose gun control laws to terrorize some areas.

    I think the “blue” state-“red” state ideas spread by the press are an example of lazy reporting. it is easier to label than to investigate. Every state has democratic and republican areas. Even the strongest “red ” state will vote 40% “blue” and vice versa. Hardly an overwhelming stat when you think about it.


  3. Barbara Griffin says:

    The Republican base thrives on fear, because they have nothing constructive to offer the public. The corporate media takes the message and runs with it. Sensationalism sells better than facts, after all…and it distracts people from knowing what’s really going on.


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    The democratic base tends to thrive on welfare and entitlements ! 🙂


  5. Maureen Harding says:

    Great article Bill! Reminds me of my anthro class on Witchcraft and Magic and the “Evil Eye”. Conclusion is that people use “fear” to make sense if those things that do not understand when undergoing change. Unfortunately, the GOP uses this phenomenon to exploit their fears for one purpose only…to win elections. Those who accept change more easily actually have more faith. A definite oxymoron here.


  6. Deb Meeker says:

    I wasn’t aware that corporations were the Democratic base. Corporations, through tax loopholes and subsidies receive the largest share of “entitlements”.


  7. josephurban says:

    Good point, Deb. I guess if someone repeats something often enough many people believe it. The US has a very long history of giving “entitlements” to some corporations. In the form of cheap resources, tax breaks and anti-labor laws.


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