After years, no, decades, of wondering why all American voters don’t think and act the same way I do, I finally found something approaching an answer. We are NOT all alike. Imagine that. I’ve understood for a long time the whole “diversity” theme and how we are all different flowers in the bouquet or vegetables in the stew, etc. But the analysis by Colin Woodard in a new book called American Nations is really enlightening.
I am definitely a Yankee, by birth and by temperament and worldview. But there are many more Americans who are NOT. Thus my never ending frustration with political points of view on everything from the value of public education to protection of the planet to peaceful solutions to problems, and the dignity of every human being. In fact, the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism read just like the description by Woodard of the Yankee mindset. That’s partly because Unitarians were instrumental in molding the political views of many in the Northeast. That’s where women’s suffrage was born as well as the anti-slavery movement.
From what I understand, William Greenleaf Eliot and his family moved to the St. Louis area in the decades before the American Civil War hoping to bring Yankee enlightenment and problem solving to the Midwest. They created some cornerstone institutions which continue today such as Washington University, but they were not able to avert a Civil War. I think I understand better now why many in southern parts of the U.S. still value their Confederate traditions. Our priorities and values go all the way back to the culture that created us. Missouri was divided during the Civil War, and Woodard divides it between “Midlands” and “Greater Appalachia” on his map.
I look forward to reading the entire book soon. I’m not sure if knowing all this about our past cultures and value systems will motivate me even more to help change public views and elect progressives, or if it will give me the reason to finally quit politics altogether.