Friday, October 10, 2008

On My Mind: Blue States and Red States

With the election less than a month away and the economy going down the tubes, I'm trying to keep my anxieties at bay, but one thing I've figured out is living in NYC, I am really out of touch with so-called "middle America." NYC feels a lot more like home when I think about all those places in America that aren't like NYC.

I've been staring at the electoral map a lot (this one from CNN is my favorite), trying to make sense of how the country got so split between the coasts and inland, and then just for fun, I counted all the states I've spent any real time in (airport layover do not count!). The big number? 23--mostly in the West, South and Northeast. I've never set foot in that region from Idaho down to New Mexico, the Dakotas to Kansas. It's no wonder I'm so out of touch with the people who live there.

I guess it's easy to be a cynical East Coast liberal and say, why the hell would you want to go to those parts? There's nothing but farms, mountains, cattle and corn. But I sat down and looked at the list of states I've missed. Some of them have some really cool stuff that I'd like to see. Like all those gorgeous slopes in Colorado and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming and the beautiful beaches in South Carolina and the amazing glaciers in Alaska. I have to admit there are other states I haven't heard much about - like what's there to do in Montana or North Dakota or Nebraska--look at fields and mountains?

I figure if I know more about the people and places that make up this country, I'll have a better understanding of what America is and maybe I'll be less blindly frustrated at the people from the red states and more sympathetic. When I have time, I'll have to take a road trip to find out.There's always a complex reality behind stereotypes--and that goes both ways.

In the meantime, I thought I'd pass along my new favorite site for electoral polls: One thing that is bringing the country back together, as least from what the polls indicate, is the economy. We all seem to agree: it's painful to see the stock market at levels it was at in 2003.

If you're reading this from outside of NYC, yes, even in NYC, we're feeling the pain. When I do my household shopping these days, I check myself. Do we really need this? I turn out lights I'm not using. I cook every night. City Guy likes to order pizza once in a while, and the other day, I suggested I buy him a microwavable pizza the next time I went grocery shopping. He thought that was pretty funny. I can't even think about shopping for clothes. My dad's birthday's this month, and even dear old dad is getting a less extravagant present this year.

Boy, the holidays are going to be fun. I bet if there were a Walmart in NYC, they'd be making out like bandits right about now.

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