Glenn Smith at Blog of the President has this observation about partisan divisions on the basis of geography:

Even after four years of punditizing the blue state, red state phenom, it’s been too little noticed the extent to which Republicans have revived the old Confederacy. Accurately, the fight is once again between the Blue and the Gray, not the blue and the red.

Little noticed? Perhaps not in the world of political activism, pundits have not played the your daddy was a slave-owner/yankee cracker cards. However, historians have noted how north/south divisions have perpetuated themselves by shifting into different fields of political conflict, from slavery to states’ rights, labor relations, economic policies, foreign intervention, works programs, civil rights, internationalism … until we get to our current division. And we use the legacy of slavery to draw critical (sometimes partisan) attention to Southern politics.

Calling the red states a revival of the Confederacy is a bit much–indeed, Southern Republicans advocate types of cultural unity that have no equivalent in American history (no one will like it when I say this, but it resembles the Jacobin instincts of French republicanism). Perhaps what is interesting is that the divisions between north and south have been politicized and that people are choosing where they live on the basis of their political identities. This view is further problematized when historians consider that civil rights, the most recent contentious debate about racial equality, was a debate within the Democratic Party as well as in the public sphere.

But this model does not explain everything. The most obvious thing is the redness of the Rocky Mountain region. Geitner Simmons is exploring the relations between the South and the West–he might have some explanation of the strength of the Republican Party in the West. I also think that both parties are thinking of ways of reaching across the north-south divide, looking for charismatic politicians that can capture the imagination of people in hostile territories. On the left, John Edwards and Wesley Clark are examples; on the right, Mitt Romney, Rudi Guiliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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