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Old 05-23-2012, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Jefferson City 4 days a week, St. Louis 3 days a week
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Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
That isn't true. Both Illinois and Ohio have far more smaller cities that are more blue collar that vote Democratic than any comparable area of Missouri.
You still couldn't get these states to vote liberal without their major cities and that's a fact. Ohio's political balance comes as a result of the rural areas balancing out with the urban parts.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:56 AM
 
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There's a pretty informative and well-articulated book called "The Middle West" by James Shortridge that explores the concept in great detail, including a lot of maps on how people identify and self-identify the midwest.

The biggest misconcetion is that the midwest is a term invented to describe a different region than the "far west" or "the west". The word "middle" in middle west refers to the middle of the north/south axis of the settled west in the last half of the 19th century and early 20th. It is the middle as opposed to the "northwest" (Wyoming, Dakotas) and "southwest" (Oklahoma, Texas).

In essence, the original midwest was Kansas (which, as a territory, extended all the way to the front range), Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa, and they are the core states that get included in every definition of the middle west that has had any truck in the history of the word.

What's easily lost on current generations is that rural subsistence existence was the de facto American dream for a large part of its history. America was (and remains) largely a nation settled by rural peasants, who moved to cities because of the economic necessities imposed by industrialism and market capitalism, not because they thought museums and nightclubs and entertainment options for bourgie kids were what they needed to live contentedly. Because the midwest exemplified that dream, the term was adopted by or applied to the upper plains and great lakes states as a way of adopting some of the cultural cache that the word midwest held, and as a reflection of their own bucolic and largely rural environs. What's more, a lot of people here seem to have very little understanding how much of this continent was prairie -- which is what most people mean when they say plains -- at the time of white settlement, and where the treeline stopped. Most of Illinois, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and the northern and western halves of Missouri would be totally indistinguishable from one another.

The "Great Plains" vs. "Great Lakes" dichotomy is trotted out over and over here by a few people with a pretty obvious agenda, but those kind of labels confuse geography with culture, and despite its nebulous and often dynamic definition, the midwest is a cultural region. Not a mono-culture, but none of them really are, unless one drills down to the most atomistic deviations. The "East Coast" includes Bangor, Maine and Baltimore. "Appalachia" includes northern Alabama and New Hampshire.

And using red/blue maps as a measure of culture is painting with a pretty broad brush. Barack Obama won 41.4% of the popular vote in Kansas. That means if you are in a room with 10 random Kansans who voted in 2008, 4 of them voted for Obama. That's only monolithic for pollsters, and is largely a function of having no large cities, since it's only real city is in Missouri. If you moved Moltnomah Co. across the river into Washington, Obama would have lost Oregon. But that doesn't mean Coo's Bay isn't part of the Pacific NW because it's voting records don't square with Seattle's, and the fact that the Sand Hills didn't vote the same way as Sandusky doesn't mean they aren't both midwestern, either.

Last edited by SPonteKC; 05-23-2012 at 11:10 AM..
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