Political landscape has a lot to do with geographic landscape | Politics in Focus

Every year, when I travel to visit my friends and family in eastern Washington and Montana, I’m shocked to see how geography affects political attitudes.

Every year, when I travel to visit my friends and family in eastern Washington and Montana, I’m shocked to see how geography affects political attitudes.

Have you ever looked at a map of red and blue states during presidential elections? Blue states (Democratic) consistently hug the populous West Coast and the large urban areas of the Northeast while the Red states (Republican) are consistently found in the agricultural Midwest and South.

Geography plays a big part in these political divisions as it has throughout American history. From our nation’s birth there have been geographic/political divisions.

New England, home to hard, rocky soil and short growing seasons, helped to create people who were interested in business and commerce; those people represented the first American political party, the Federalists. They favored a strong central government with high tariffs on imports to protect infant American industries.

The South, on the other hand, had long growing seasons, large, slow moving rivers, and rich, fertile soil more conducive to labor-intensive agricultural crops like tobacco and cotton. These geographic conditions encouraged the use of slaves to provide the labor. The South, eventually, along with the frontier West, became the Anti-Federalists, then Democrats, who favored farmers over commerce and trade and states’ rights over a strong central government.

The post-Revolution middle states, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey as examples, had a combination of large rivers like the Hudson, good for commerce, and warm growing conditions and better soil for agricultural crops. They were a blending of these two polar North/South tendencies, both politically and economically.

Even though the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century changed how things were done, Democrats have always traditionally favored what has been called the “common man.” That characteristic, with some exceptions, has held true throughout the history of the party. Today, because of the enormous demographic changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, the “common man” (and woman) now predominantly lives in modern cities. It is where the poor are more closely concentrated and more easily seen than in the rural areas. City dwellers come to expect government services like garbage pick-up, waste treatment and water.

Many city dwellers hold government jobs. Today, they also tend to work for employers and industries that have located in or near large cities to take advantage of the large labor pool. Poor immigrants also congregate in the cities to work in the factories and businesses. The high numbers of workers and poor rather than employers has made cities more Democratic.

Republicans, the modern descendents of Federalists, are still prosperous business owners and now favor less government control and fewer taxes because those higher costs take away from their profits.

The leaders of political parties are very much aware of these demographic tendencies and plan their campaigns and shape political voting districts to get as many of their type of constituent out to vote as they can.

Each side appeals to issues that interest people who vote for them: Democrats are going to push issues where the government is more involved in the lives of people, giving them services they might not be able to afford for themselves, where the Republicans are going to emphasize less government control and taxation – issues that benefit their socioeconomic group.

Thus we see, and can predict with reasonable accuracy, how certain areas and regions will vote. Geography does influence politics.

 

More in Opinion

Holiday season romance

It’s only 11 days ‘til Christmas!

Our current ‘Gilded Age’ benefits only the super wealthy

More than ever, the wealth gap separates our country.

I’ll never think about trains the same way again

“At birth, we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.”

Is Inslee prepping for a presidential run?

He may be a long shot, but so were several of our previous presidents.

Living life deliberately | SoHaPP

Bonney Lake resident Sue Z. Hart will be doing some laughter therapy Dec. 8th at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Enumclaw library.

The future simply borrows from the past

People can examine the same point in history and come up with completely different interpretations.

‘Logical fallacies’ help each of us defend our arguments

Everyone uses these strategies to some extent.

Thank you for all the support

We are thankful to live in such a loving community.

Sharing a delicious Thanksgiving tradition | Wally’s World

The family gatherings and traditions may have changed, but the food is still delicious.

Most Read