Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled, Maine-centric programming here at Open Season to make a few observations about the U.S. presidential contest.
As many of you may know, my recent book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, argues that there's never been one America, but rather several Americas, each with its own founding ideals and takes on the great American policy questions: what is the correct balance between individual liberty and communal freedom?; what is the right relationship between church and state?; what does it mean to be "American"?
It also argues that the political differences between these regional cultures can still be seen on today's political maps, including the "blue county / red county" maps of most every closely contested presidential contest of the past two centuries.
Skeptical? You may find the results of the recently completed 2012 presidential primaries sobering. It's the subject of my essay in the new issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is now available online for your reading pleasure. In short, regionalism played an overwhelming role in the G.O.P. contest, and revealed continued weaknesses for President Obama in the region I call Greater Appalachia.
This paradigm - and this all-revealing map of the "nations" - has been getting renewed attention of late. Last week on Slate's "Political Gabfest" podcast, the magazine's chief political correspondent, John Dickerson, recommended American Nations to Obama and Governor Romney as they prepare for the general election. Steve Kornacki at Salon weighed in further on what is now being called "Obama's Greater Appalachia Problem," perhaps pivoting off earlier discussions from Alec MacGillis at The New Republic, Politico's Charles Mahtesian, and Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish" at The Daily Beast.
Regionalism: national pollsters and political consultants ignore it at their peril.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled, non-self-promoting programming.
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or email@example.com
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or email@example.com