Geopolitical Lessons

I’ve got two characters: Farmer Joe and Inner-City Jane. I have a theory why they tend to vote the way they do when it comes to elections. You can almost always tell the blue counties from the red counties by whether they are rural or city; I think I know why.

Farmer Joe lives on his land. It was his father’s land. His nearest neighbor is three country blocks away, roughly three miles. He works hard to till the land and harvest the crops. He earns just enough money to keep his family comfortable, cover the property tax and give a little to the church. He’s hoping for a good crop next year in order to hopefully replace his old 1987 Ford truck. His little town has little diversity. It’s either corn or beans. There is not an overabundance of options. There is one Chinese and one Mexican restaurant in town. They have about five traffic lights in the entire area. They don’t need to depend much on the municipal systems to fix things. Joe composts and burns a good portion of his trash. Farmer Joe is independent individual. His entertainment is the simple kind: he enjoys fishing, watching NASCAR and a good tractor-pull. Joe likes things the way they are. He has no urge to change a thing.

Inner-City Jane lives in an apartment building. Her apartment just big enough. She fills it with her knick-knacks to make it feel like home. Her nearest neighbor is Bob, who is only a thin wall away. Bob likes heavy metal. Her hallway is filled with friendly people and occasionally the families invite her over for dinner. She’s surrounded by diversity. There is the Polish couple two floors down. A Chinese family on the bottom floor. An Albanian with great stories lives beside her. Jane does a few waitress jobs and likes to play her guitar on stage when she gets a chance. She lives on tips and earns enough to just get by on Ramen noodles and spaghetti. When she does get a good tip or a birthday gift from her grandmother, she loves to see musicals in the theater. Her favorite is “Phantom of the Opera.” She doesn’t own a car and must depend on the bus system to get anywhere. She’s surrounded by constant change and has learned to easily adapt.
So, now that you know where each comes from, it is pretty easy to see their platforms. Joe hates welfare. If an individual can’t earn their own way, they don’t deserve a handout. Jane has had to survive off the kindness of others. She knows there are people out there that just need a leg up.

Joe has no problem with the Iraq war. They are over there, far from his home. None of his neighbors are getting hurt. Jane’s neighbor in 7B is Iraqi and has family still at home. The impact is much closer.

Joe doesn’t really need much from the government. Good roads and decent schools. Jane needs a lot from the government.

Jane has learned to get along and co-exist with a multitude of cultures and belief systems. Joe has had much less experience with these things. He knows his way and his land and it works.

Joe only knows one definition for marriage. Jane has seen love of all kinds.

Yes, I know I am using very stereotypical individuals. The starving artist versus the chiseled farmer. More often than not, though, stereotypes are pretty true. If they weren’t, we’d change them.

My theory still holds despite the characters. It is one’s experience with the world that shapes political leanings. That is one reason a college campus is always considered liberal. You have a large group of different people. They have to co-exist. This builds tolerance. You have an abundance of culture, art and debate. An idea doesn’t pass through the academic system unscathed. Religions normally take a hit because of this new encouragement to question. The status quo is always in a state of flux. Change is a liberal trait.

So, where does your vote come from?

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