The (Not Very) United States

The eleven different sub-nations within the US.  Click image for a larger image.
The eleven different sub-nations within the US. Click image for a larger image.

One of the fictions foisted on us in the name of greater federal government is that the US is a collection of 50 similar states, and that national/federal laws of a ‘one size fits all’ are both appropriate and necessary.

The reality is very different.  Indeed, there are massive social discontinuities within single states, let alone across all 48 lower states, plus Alaska and Hawaii (which still seems to half regret having joined the rest of us).

I travel some around the western part of our great nation, and it always strikes me that not only are there huge differences between, for example, CA and its neighbors, OR, NV and AZ, but also with each state.  In California we have the Mexican dominated south, the formerly hippy and now high-tech Bay area, but also, if you go inland, there are some conservative counties with gun friendly policies, including some where the county sheriff is happy to issue concealed carry permits to anyone who asks.

In WA, the state is fractured by the Cascades – a very liberal western group of counties, and a much more conservative eastern group of counties, who feel terribly disenfranchised.  Political matters are decided in the left-wing metroplex stretching from Bellingham down to Olympia, leaving the greater part of the state – geographically but not economically or demographically – out in the cold (quite literally so in the winters!).

These disruptions within our nation and within individual states come as no surprise to us.  We see it every presidential election, for example, and we consider it painstakingly if we are choosing where to locate a retreat.  It is reflected in the repeated and unlikely to ever succeed moves to split states into two, or to blend parts of two states and make them into three or more new states.  Most recently, in late 2014, a petition for a ballot measure in California to split the state into six separate states narrowly failed to gain enough signatures.

A recent article in the Tufts University Alumni magazine suggests that the US as a whole can be segmented into 11 different clustered subgroups, with each subgroup sharing generally similar values and views.  The article includes a fascinating map showing, county-by-county, where the groupings are.  We could point out that even some counties are far from uniform in nature, but for the purposes of a general vague mapping of these different value groupings, that is probably as close as one can get – leastways, without a multi-million dollar federal grant to research it further!

The most interesting point, for me, was that the increased mobility of our population was actually making these groupings more extreme, rather than mixing everyone up more.  Because it is easier to relocate these days than it was in the past, people are choosing to relocate to areas with like-minded folk, and when you think about it, that’s one of the core concepts in choosing a retreat location.

The area of greatest interest to us is essentially an extension of the region sometimes referred to as the American Redoubt, and in this article, termed ‘The Far West’.  Of course, the article did not adjust its regions for considerations of how best to survive TEOTWAWKI, so for us, their Far West region is a starting point to then refine and narrow down.

The author’s point is not so much to show and map these different regions, but to consider the implications of their existence.  He says that as long as there is such a pronounced lack of homogeneity in our country, it is difficult for consensus driven federal government to effectively address the often opposite wishes of different parts of the country.

Think for example about abortion.  That’s something most people have an opinion on, and it is pretty much an either/or issue – you’re either for or against ‘a woman’s right to choose’/’the rights of an unborn child’.  There’s not really a compromise that could be created that works for everyone in the nation.

The same for gun control, and for all manner of other moral and value related issues.

Unfortunately, the author uses his findings as a base for a long discourse on violence and, by implication, how it should be controlled, but for our purposes, simply look at the map, read the descriptions of the eleven different regions, and then follow the national trend – relocate to the region that feels most like ‘home’ to you.

Chances are, when you do, you’ll find us already there!

3 Replies to “The (Not Very) United States”

  1. Julia Morales

    Ha ha, glad to see that most of California is included with “The Far West”: we’ve been trying to tell people that for years, it’s those liberal nutcases on the “Left Coast” who are responsible for all the anti-job, anti-farming and anti-human policies, that everyone thinks of when they think of California!

    The rest of us would LOVE to secede, keep the mountain water for the farmers and let the coast get theirs from the ocean! I’m sure the “Six Californias” or bills like it will continue to keep on coming up; but no doubt, once there are enough signatures, the powers that be in Sacramento will just find some other means to keep it off the ballot.

  2. Bedford Forrest

    Good article, its true that a “one size fits all” does not work, this along with a betrayal of the Constitution is why the South left the union and created its own country.

  3. Julia Morales

    Update: we are following your advice, & relocating to an area that feels like “home” – northern Alabama, part of the “Greater Appalachia” region listed above. I would agree with the map-writer’s assessment; in addition to the abundant water, sun, & fertile soil – coming from drought-ridden California, this was a major factor – the everyday self-reliance of the local citizens can be seen in the abundant vegetable gardens that dot the area, “city” and rural alike (I put city in quotes because Huntsville is one of the most green, spread-out and UN-citylike cities I have ever seen!)…even “city” houses are mostly surrounded by 1/2 acre or more of green grass which could easily be turned into gardens, and the main reason many people don’t bother to grow gardens, is because they are already inundated by the free veggies provided by their neighbors. If something should happen to the “city” water system – and you don’t happen to be near one of the major rivers or numerous springs, ponds and streams – just set out a rain barrel and it won’t be long before you can fill it. As in Pennsylvania, the deer are more numerous now than they were when the settlers first arrived, due to the abundant crops to feed on…which is why AL has one of the most liberal deer seasons in the US: “one deer per day, for the 30-40 days deer season lasts” [per my real estate agent.] Crime is extremely low, because everyone is assumed to have at least one gun in their home. My daughter (who already lives there) said during the last major storm in which they lost power for about two weeks, there was ONE attempt by someone to rob a mini-mart: the owner pulled out a shotgun & shot the perpetrator, no charges were pressed, case closed. She also witnessed that everyone was extremely polite and helpful to everyone else; people were constantly asking her if she or her family needed anything…wood, food, water, warm blankets, you name it. In other words: rather than turning upon one another and fighting over supplies, people shared and helped each other…made possible because many if not most people in that area keep root cellars and stores of canned goods, bulk supplies and emergency foods, as a way of life.
    In all fairness, from what I have read, many people in New York & New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy (& this past winter in Boston) also helped each other, and tried to maintain a “we’re all in this together” attitude. Hopefully that will continue, and more people than before will see the expediency of keeping at least several weeks’ of emergency supplies on hand. Good for them, I hope it continues to all work out. But me, I’m heading for where the summers are warm & moist & the winters are very mild, and the countryside is full of good, hard-working, staunch conservatives like ourselves.

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