10 November 2012


As a follow-up to yesterday's post on the presidential election's results (by electoral college votes and by the popular vote), here is a visual on the distribution (click to enlarge) ~

It is an interesting exercise to compare the more liberal (blue) states and the more conservative (red) states with another map, this one showing the locations of the nation's top universities overlaid on the voting map ~

There does seem to be a correlation between education and how residents vote.  One might argue that even in those conservative states with a top university, the university town may be a liberal enclave within the state.  One example is Tucson, Arizona.

It is also evocative to compare the voting map with a map of the slave and free states as they existed in 1852 (courtesy of my friend Bill) ~

The boundaries are not precise, since so much land existed as a U.S. territory rather than a U.S. state, but you can see a clear resemblance in the northeast, midwest, and west coast.

So what am I suggesting ~ that conservatives tend to be less well-educated?  That they are racist rednecks harking back to the days of slavery?  Well, yes, in sweeping general terms.  There are, of course, well-educated conservative individuals, and conservative individuals whose attitude toward race is moderate, perhaps even progressive.  But taken as a group, yes, those xenophobic links exist.

As I entered adulthood, I had virtually no life experience with races other than whites.  I'd grown up in lily-white north central Montana, and my first two years of college were at Washington State University, overall an institution populated mostly by whites.  It took two events to broaden my horizons and shape my preference for diversity.  The first was entering the Army for two years.  In 1967 there was a disproportionate number of young black and Latino men in the military, thanks to the culling effect of the draft ~ it was easier for economically-advantaged young white men to obtain a student deferment or a posting in the National Guard, thus avoiding active duty.  I was surrounded by racial diversity, and I was fascinated, and made friends.

The second event was my moving to southern Arizona in 1969, after leaving the military.  The city of Tucson is a healthy mix of white, black, and Latino residents, and here too, I thrived.  My contact with, and understanding of, other cultures widened even more when I became a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  There my classmates were often from other nations, other traditions and cultures by which I felt enriched.

It is a truism I've witnessed over and over, that even the most bigoted person can shed his/her prejudice when a friendship is formed with someone from the "other" group.  The transformation doesn't usually happen overnight.  It takes time to rethink assumptions, to cast aside the bonds of old thinking.  But the results are breathtaking.  From the military, from my education, from my travels, from my contacts on social media, I enjoy friendships with people all over the country, all over the world.  What could be finer?

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