If Americans tried to reorganise their boundaries along the lines of the article's map, they would probably stop "coming together" and start "moving apart" in the course of a few generations. In the short term, though, it would probably ease a lot of the pressure currently felt.
Germany is another federal state made stronger by having internal boundaries that don't reflect historical identities (Bavaria being the weakness), and which has been able to foster a unified national identity in the past seventy years despite excluding Austria and losing much territory.
Canada's borders are more ... logical and accurate (visible in the map), and their federation is much weaker for it. The long border with the culturally similar US probably contributes to the weakness of Canada as a federal state.
In terms of division of power between states and federal, the Canadian federal government has much more power than the US federal government.
After I learned more about it, I was quite surprised at the level of autonomy that US states have.
However, in practice, Canada provinces tend to be more powerful than US states, perhaps because there are fewer of them. In both countries, the federal government tries to intrude using means such as conditional transfers of funds - taxing the citizens of states/provinces and only giving back the money if the state/province does as they wish. In Canada, this is most notable for health care, which is supposedly a provincial responsibility, but which the federal government meddles in extensively.
Yeah, that's super annoying. For an example here in the states: "In 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required states to raise their ages for purchase and public possession to 21 by October 1986 or lose 10% of their federal highway funds" .
This is especially true for language. Linguistic division within countries is often a source of tension, even in smaller countries. In larger countries, it is almost assuredly going to lead to tension, especially so during times of hardship. This is why the United States must remain an English speaking country. Major regional linguistic differences would quickly fuel secessionist energy in the US, given how much diversity already exists even with relative linguistic homogeneity.
Just to harp on the language point a bit more: language is the soil in which culture grows, and a unified culture is critical for any functioning entity, whether that be a family, a corporation, a club, or a country.
Wouldn't the former East German region also reflect historical identify with a hard borderline? (albeit on a short time scale)
I think this shows the importance of linguistic unity in cultural unity and therefore national unity. Germany's "strong federal state" (which is pretty decentralised in practice) is likely also a result of this.
Of course, some people like to turn "is" into "ought", resulting in the problems of the 20th century when some people tried to make the German national borders match the linguistic border.
> The Deep South was established by English slave lords from Barbados and was styled as a West Indies-style slave society, Woodard notes. It has a very rigid social structure and fights against government regulation that threatens individual liberty. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina are all part of the Deep South.
The pro- slavery rigid society that somehow values individual liberty? Would anyone be able to explain how that works?
My cynical reading is that describes an attitude of “if you let someone else tell you what to do that makes you a peasant, so when we do it it’s fine because we do it to peasants, but when other people do something much milder to us that’s evil because it means treating us as peasants.”
Aristocrats have often given me that impression, no matter the era or region.
 feudalism had actual slaves, in addition to serfs, but I’m not claiming deep wisdom here — only personal impressions and the metaphors I use to make sense of the world.
That is why the Reconstruction of the South was so painful; it was essentially a social and political revolution by top-down administration to add bureaucracy and consolidate the economy into larger farms and industrial owners/laborers.
.. but by implication non-landowners were second class citizens, and nonwhite people were unpersons?
> Social customs somewhat enforced neighborly behavior in place of regulation
Yes, but remember that half of the adult population everywhere was a second-class citizen simply because of their gender. The idea that some people don't deserve as many rights as others isn't an aberration we can lay at the feet of the plantation owners.
I think this describes neither medieval Europe nor the antebellum US South. Certainly in Europe, a king needed no 'bureaucracy' to take anything he wanted from anyone at any time. Lords could largely do the same with impunity, since they had the power to do so and were largely immune from prosecution due to the heavily politicized courts prior to the rise of heavy industry in 1700, after which non-lord authorities like commercial barons arose, and demanded better legal representation.
IMHO, the US south never really lost that same feudal sensibility, that titled folk deserve greater power / immunity than commoners and the demi-people below that. Before modern telecommunications which enabled enforcement of federal law, that mindset allowed ad hoc laws like Jim Crow to displace formal legal codes in the courts and enabled the segregationist inequality that persisted until the 1960's. I believe that even today that value system lives on in hearts and minds, even if the courts are shaped by it much less.
Years ago I saw a book on the history of extending the franchise in the US. One story stuck with me. In some early close vote to extend franchise to those (white males) with wealth but not land, one proponent described his decision as something vaguely like "If I thought for a moment, that the US would every be anything but an agrarian nation, I would of course share my colleagues concerns, and oppose this measure. But thankfully...". Franchise extension by misjudgement. I wonder if that's a pattern?
It only valued individual liberties for free individuals, like slave owners. Slaves are by definition not free individuals, so the right to individual liberty by definition didn't apply to them.
It's practically tautological if you substitute the word "liberty" with "freedom".
The useful comparison is just up the coast, Massachusetts was almost the opposite, a theocracy of busybodies. Where a town council could re-arrange people's living arrangements if they thought X was a bit of a loner wanting to be out in the woods. And of course enthusiasm for every detail of the approved religion was not optional.
Yes, that's what being a slave is.
> The tautology is
I still don't know what you're trying to say here. Do you think that all slave-holding states had a strong belief in individual liberty? Saudi Arabia is a good counter-example, not much tradition of writing tracts about the virtues of greek democracy there. No, the princelings sure jump when the big man says jump.
When people say that the Cavaliers were into individual liberty, they aren't saying the blindingly obvious fact that non-slaves generally preferred not to be enslaved.
> The pro- slavery rigid society that somehow values individual liberty? Would anyone be able to explain how that works?
Obviously, it fails as a universal. Freedom that operates on the basis of economic, political, or physical coercion of others isn't freedom at all.
Which would be fine in a more mature system, because the basic question in any political organisation is where to place the trade-off between individual freedom and personal responsibility to others.
The US model is all for individual freedom, but has real issues with the concept of personal responsibility to others - which it fails to solve by pretending the problem has never existed, and is irrelevant.
Slaves were definitionally not free under the law - their bodies were property of masters, just like farm animals were. If those slaves escaped their owners, they were legally allowed to be hunted down and returned.
That is a fundamental difference than the sweatshop, railway, or other workers, even though those workers were also abused by their employers. They still had the option to walk away, even if it meant accepting the destitution as a result. Lots of them did walk away and starve. Some toiled away as workers generation upon generation. A few went on to build great wealth and influence, as is evidenced by the rise of the early industrialist families of the United States.
> Are starving workers freer than well fed slaves?
Absolutely, and that doesn't excuse a system that lets free workers starve, just as a full stomach does not excuse the enslavement of humans.
2nd amendment rights are stronger than ever. 4th amendment rights issues kinda peaked about 10 years ago, and although Snowden certainly shined a bright light on some shady things, I would hardly call it a “big push”, given the backlash and the fact that the public doesn’t seem to be going along with it.
I’m much more concerned about the entire public’s outright willingness to broadcast every facet of our lives right out in public for anyone to see (what the IC would call “open source” intelligence) than any spying the government is doing on our private information.
The short story is that they valued the unlimited freedom for a single individual more than the general freedom of all individuals. In a sense, it's the finding and feeding utility monsters on the theory that that will maximize utility for society.
"Don't tell me what I can and can't do with my property!"
These people would have to have considered slaves people in order to extend individual liberty to them.
Same way as in classical Greece (both Sparta and Athens, etc.) and Rome - slave-holding aristocrats value their own freedom highly, will fight and die for it.
Actually, that led to hatred of monarchy and use of republican forms with class equals. But 'sic semper tyrannis' wasn't a servant's battle cry.
This was apparently a really important question amoung European liberal democrats (which is a broad group ranging from constitutional monarchists all the way to social democrats) in the 19th century. Many of the more conservative liberals were really worried about balancing equality and order in a way where the state still made sensible decisions. I guess, pre-civil war America makes an interesting case study comparing North and South.
I listened to a BBC history podcast discussing this question with some depth, maybe you can find it useful as well .
Yet it’s a very striking fact that the language that to our ears sounds most “libertarian” in the Founding generation tended most often to issue from those most committed to slavery. By contrast, the Founding Fathers who sound most “statist” — Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams — tended also to be most hostile to slavery.
This disjunction is more than some odd little paradox of history. It is a resounding klaxon warning of the enormous gap between the 18th century mindset and our own. Samuel Johnson jeered at the American colonists: “How is that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” Johnson’s accusation of hypocrisy is obviously well-founded, but there is something more going on here than hypocrisy. It was precisely the intimate awareness of the horror of unfreedom — and possibly guilt for the denial of freedom to others — that inspired the passionate concern for liberty among so many slaveholders. When Patrick Henry said that he would rather be dead than share the fate of the 75 slaves he owned, he was not engaging in metaphor. But he was also not expressing 21st century libertarianism.
Frankly I dont really see the contradiction. You can have a 'rigid' social structure and still frown upon the interventions of external forces such as government on that social structure. Not liberty in general but specifically liberty from government.
One thing described it's history, another - current state of affairs.
Also, many of the Midwest states are less Yankeedom and more Heartland.
Also, Dallas is Greater Appalachia and not Deep South yet Houston is Deep South and not New France?
Also, LA is El Norte and not the Left Coast?
Was this map based on 200 year old data?
Like most states, Pennsylvania's rural areas tend to be more conservative and support Republicans. The resulting political map of Pennsylvania is therefore a red "T" in the center of the state with the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas a strong blue.
Colorado as a Far West state makes little sense- where the people live is mostly Left Coast, with El Norte in the Southern part of the state.
My feeling is that Michigan probably has most in common with Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Maine and the rest of New England. I'm not sure it's a Yankee kind of thing though. More of a shared culture based on the environment, lakes, hunting, and exposure/familiarity with large forests.
I wonder how, in a parallel universe, such states combined with Ontario/New Brunswick/Newfoundland would end up looking like, as a nation surrounding the Great Lakes and North Atlantic coast.
Sorry I'm rambling.
It's a good attempt, but needs data backing. I remember another article that took daily commutes and then Voronoi Diagram'd them into a few 'states'. Can't find the link though.
I'm a part of the French revival movement in South Louisiana to help preserve the culture. Most French speakers are 60+ years old, which is sad. Before about 1970, children suffered corporal punishment if they spoke French in school. Blame it on the Anglo-protestants.
There isn't much French spoken in Nouvelle Orleans anymore. Same goes for Baton Rouge. This largely happened after Reconstruction: some of the Yankee leadership who took over were just as xenophobic as Southern slave-owners. I'm not trying to defend this change in leadership having to occur, it was necessary to make sure the South didn't try to keep slavery alive. Unfortunately, nationalist leadership was much like today's conservatives in wanting the only official language of L'etats Unis to be Anglais.
South Louisiana is highly underrated though, especially the city of Baton Rouge. Weed is decriminalized, there's an incredible symphony orchestra, plenty of art museums, and damn good food. But it's much more "American" of a town than New Orleans or Acadiana.
Here's a hilarious article explaining the division between North and South Louisiana:
Anyway, laissez les bons temps rouler, vous-autres!
One of my goals next year is to learn French. Do you speak French?
Do You Speak American? (2005)
There's definitely a big cultural distinction between the Boston/DC corridor part of the east coast states and everything else in those states. DC has more in common with Boston than DC has in common with other parts (e.g. Indiana) of the "midlands" panhandle the map has it occupying. The fact that there's a line smack through the DC metro itself is kind of a wtf. There should probably be "left coast" dots for the counties that Denver, CO and Austin, TX are in. Maine North of Portland has more in common with Quebec and western Pennsylvania than it does with anything in Southern New England. If those are my gripes based on my personal experience then I would wager the areas with which I have no experience are similarly inaccurate.
Edit: Just confirmed with people from Michigan, Indiana and west Virginia. They all had some pretty raised eyebrows at this map.
Edit2: Asked some Mainers, one called the map "bold".
I was impressed with the north/south divide in Missouri and the east/west divide in Tennessee. However, I wouldn't put Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego in El Norte. The author may have had better reasons though.
SLO, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego are El Norte?
Look through the descriptions of the regions. Some are lauded for 'valuing education', 'hard work', etc. Others are tied to slavery, are "intensely suspicious", and so on.
This is a bunch of sorry tropes that don't hold water. It would have been just as easy to characterize the lauded regions as homeless poop-havens and the other parts 'eco-friendly' because the tree-to-human ratio is so much better.
But the Upper Midwest (sans Chicago) is way closer to the rest of the Midwest than it is to New England. It has its own distinct flavor compared to the Lower Midwest. But not in "Yankee" way--more like "pre-Canada."
I think the division can be pretty broad. I live in Boston, and I've sometimes heard comparisons of North Shore vs South Shore to be culturally rooted in Puritans settling North, vs Pilgrims settling in South. Generally genetically the same but a little different starting point, culturally.
Woddard's take on Trump victory