A Not-So-Political Divide

Partisan divide explained by geography

Lahari Ramini, Staff Writer

Blue and red, donkey and elephant, liberal and conservative, and–the most common of all–Democrat and Republican. People are meant to fall into one of these categories, right? This may not always be the case.

In order to better understand this division, it is essential that we take a new and broadened view of the problem. A new look American politics theorizes that our division may exist due to the urban-rural dichotomy in our country.

“The biggest difference between the two parties is the urban-rural divide. Politically, rural is generally inward-looking. Urban is very diverse and cosmopolitan,” Lee Drutman said, an expert on the science of politics.

The idea that Drutman is proposing is that the division in our country isn’t always the political party we identify with, but more so what kind of city we live in.

To delve into the heart of this division, we need to recognize that there are distinct differences among urban and rural communities in our nation.

The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed nearly 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns. Nearly 7 of every 10 rural residents say their values differ from those of people who live in big cities, including about 4 of every 10 who say their values are “very different.” This is only a generalization from a surveyed sample, and it should be considered that it isn’t true of everyone.

Most rural communities have sluggish environments and economies. Rural areas have been affected by a shrinking workforce as people have left towns or stopped looking for work, while the workforce has grown in suburbs and cities.

On the other side, the urban areas in our country have big, booming economies, and more and more young people moving to them every year.

Additionally, this separation seems to run through our country during elections. The cities who typically vote liberally seem to be the urban technopoles of the country, while the ones who vote conservatively seem to be small rural communities.

For example, a study by the New York Magazine revealed that the state of Idaho is predominantly “red” and has voted Republican in the past ten elections. Hillary Clinton only gained about 27.5% of the statewide vote. If we were to zoom in on Idaho’s voting patterns of this election, we would see that Hillary Clinton acquired 75% of the votes in Idaho’s capital, Boise.

There was a similar occurrence here at home, too. A look at the official 2016 election results of our state displays that the most populated counties in Nebraska, Douglas and Lancaster, had a majority vote for the democratic candidate.The others had a majority vote for the republican candidate.

Throughout our entire history, we have lived with the division of Republican and Democrat. This division is difficult to rid our country of, but acknowledging our urban-rural differences could change that. People can understand the people around them, and connect us as a society.