In the You Are Where You Live thingy my zip code comes back with Brains and Money listed as the first description of the neighborhood, which is Urban Uptown.
1. Shop at Nordstrom
2. Support the arts
3. Read Business Week
4. Listen to all-news radio
5. Drive a Jaguar
Guilty as charged but it's my husband who reads Business Week.
Ethnic Diversity: High Asian
Family Types: Mix
Age Ranges: 45+
Education Levels: College Grad+
Employment Levels: Professional
Housing Types: Homeowners
Well, we're not Asian but the rest applies.
We're also listed as Young Digerati (much of which fits),
When the Fundrace 2004 Neighbor Search made the rounds, I of course plugged our address and zip code in. Almost everyone in our neighborhood contributed to a Democrat. When I plugged in the zip codes for our 2 past addresses, they turned up much more mixed and were weighted toward the Republican side. Probably it's a suburban/urban thing. They didn't fit us as well on the Prizm breakdowns either. You may or may not be where you live. Let us not forget people choose to live in areas for all different sorts of reasons. We'd have been more at home in Berkeley or SF, but we lived in the far east suburbs because Jordin worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and anything else would make for a really awful commute.
This has all reminded me I intended to do more about the cool political map that made the rounds a while back. The Ten Regions of American Politics. I've lived in 5 of those regions (Upper Coasts, Southern Comfort, Farm Belt, Appalachia, and Sagebrush). I grew up in, and spent the most time in Southern Comfort and so I want to talk a little bit about it.
The part of Southern Comfort I grew up in was northeastern Oklahoma. I've always maintained that the eastern half of Oklahoma has more in common with the south than any other region while the western half is distinctly tied to the rest of the west. Part of it has to do with the climate, geology, and geography. Eastern Oklahoma is low, wet, and warm. As you go west the land rises sharply until the panhandle is up there on the caprock with the panhandle of Texas and bits of southeastern Colorado. The land becomes drier, colder and windier as you go west. The prairie nature is far more evident. I used to tell people that actually the northeastern part of the state has lots of trees, but when I traveled more it became obvious to me that it only had lots of trees in comparison with the rest of Oklahoma. Still, it's hillier and has more vegetation. (For comparison Tulsa in the northeast corner is 800 feet above sea level; Guymon in the panhandle is more than 3000 feet above sea level.)
Here are some things from Commonwealth's description of the region they call Southern Comfort.
Currently the most Republican region in the country, Southern Comfort follows the Gulf Coast from Fort Myers, Florida, west to Houston.
Religious conservatives are especially influential here; some of Pat Robertson's highest vote totals in the 1988 Republican primaries came from Southern Comfort.
More recent political notables from Southern Comfort, all Republicans, include Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority leader in the US House; senator and former majority leader Trent Lott of Mississippi; former senator Phil Gramm of Texas (who switched from the Democratic Party after Reagan swept this region); and US Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, who, as secretary of state, certified George W. Bush's 537-vote win there in 2000.
In Democratic primaries, voters in Southern Comfort generally support the most conservative of the viable candidates - which, in the past, has always been a Southerner like Carter or Clinton.
Prizm uses the categories Old Milltown and Bedrock America, among others, to describe the town I grew up in. It's describing the place now, but it's pretty accurate for the past as well. The town's population is listed as just over 38,000. When I was growing up there, conventional wisdom said it was 40-45,000. I don't find it unbeliveable the population has shrunk, but I can't find 1960 census data online except at the county level.
In 1960 I was 8 years old and we'd been living in that town for a little over a year. We had moved there from a farm approximately 30 miles away. Farming wasn't paying and my parents wanted good schools for me an my sister. That farm was pretty primitive, no running water, partial electricity, no indoor toilet. You'd think I'd be happy to move away, but I hated living in that town. Of course, as I got older I'd have hated the country more, but I wasn't happy about the change.
What was it like growing up in northeastern Oklahoma in the years 1952-1970? Last June I read Jane Haddam's book Sombody Else's Music and kept having flashbacks. I wrote it up in my Live Journal since I didn't blog then. The entry is here and I'll include a couple of quotes in here as well
" 'I never did see the point in books. You can get anything interesting on television or go to the movies for it.... He's odd, I told you. Just like she was. And you know what they do when they're odd these days. Columbine. And that place in California. They kill people.' "
It was almost as if they didn't believe the things they saw and read, as if they thought all that was fiction and that in reality everybody on the planet lived exactly the way they did. Or ought to."
It was the most stifling thing you can imagine. No, more than that. The people in that place really did believe, as in the quote above tht everybody lived the way they did and if they didn't they ought to. It wasn't so much the denial of other ways of living, thinking, existing as simply refusing to acknowledge they were even possible. I cannot tell you how very glad I am I no longer live there. Of course, all my family still does and I get accused of unpleasant things by several members of my family on a regular basis, mostly because I've made different choices with my life than they would. I think differently and value different things. Narrow-minded doesn't even begin to cover it. There's a right way to do things and it's the way my pastor/god says to do them. Different isn't interesting, it's wrong, scary, bad, possibly evil. The place didn't have a Chinese restaurant until sometime in the 70s.
So you see, I have some sympathy for poor David Brooks after the takedown Sasha Issenberg did of him in Philadelphia magazine. He may have exaggerated and/or distorted some of his claims but the phenomena he describes sound so very very familiar to me. My family have all voted Republican for as long as I can remember, in spite of the fact that many of them are registered as Democrats. (It's a southern thing.) Most of them supported Wesley Clark in the Democratic primaries, if they supported a Democrat at all. Not much was known about Clark and so they were able to make him out what they wanted him to be. The state went for Bush last time and I'm betting it does again. As I have mentioned here before, my mother firmly believes that Bush has not lied, but has had very bad advice. He wouldn't do something like that you see. It can be awfully hard for people who are decent to understand that sort of indecency. And of course, they get their news from one or at most two sources. The local paper and the local tv news. All of which, in Oklahoma, are dead conservative. It isn't that they aren't interested, but most of them are so busy earning livings and raising families that they haven't time to spend hours online, if they know how, finding different viewpoints. I'm extrapolating from my family to the state/area as a whole, but I think they are not unrepresentative. My mother's family is quite large so there's a fair sample size. All the way from my uncle, and his kids who use the N word when talking about black people, to my mother who watches C-Span and CNN.
These are the people who make up the 'heartland' and whose minds and hearts we have to change in order to effect real change in the direction we're heading. Right now I don't much see it happening though last time I was visiting I did discern a few faint signs of hope. There was even an editorial in the Tulsa paper questioning the Iraq war. They're not stupid, most of them, but they are decent and, in some respects, politically naive. They believe that most people including politicians are good people, like them, and that all the bad stuff they are hearing, therefore, must be lies. Because they wouldn't do that; it'd be wrong. They tend to believe in the goodness of our elected leaders and think what those people tell them is true. They think our political leadership can be trusted not to misuse the powerful tools The Patriot Act gives them. Because they wouldn't. However, if you can convince these people they've been lied to, manipulated, used, and abused they will get very very pissed off. It can just be very hard to accomplish.