I ran an item in my most recent column in The Union (reproduced below) in which I noted a study by the Brookings Institute that tried to explain the great political divide in this country.
Brookings developed a profile of every Congressional district in the country, and concluded that districts represented by Republicans showed less vigorous economic activity, economies dominated by agricultural, mining and other labor-intensive jobs, and a population that was poorer and less well educated than people found in districts represented by Democrats.
Local conservatives didn’t like what they read. Local blogger George Rebane, who likes to believe he occupies a lofty perch when it comes to political commentary, labled his rebuttal to the item “‘Democrats good, Republicans bad’–Propaganda Central.”
That’s a misrepresentation of what I wrote–I made no value judgements, I just noted Brookings’ take on the political divide. Rebane apparently doesn’t like being lumped in with poorly educated, working- and middle-class families that toil in 19th century industries.
Rebane’s Ruminations regular Scott Obermuller, who decamped from California to more remote Idaho, chimed in with a lengthy screed proclaiming districts represented by Democrats harbor loafers, the homeless, and welfare bums, and that many smart, hard-working Republicans reside in these districts. Nothing I wrote below suggests otherwise.
Todd Juvinall, who has never let his own ignorance deter him from expressing a firm opinion, complained that Brookings is not to be trusted, and pleaded with Rebane to provide links to studies done by the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute to refute those evil liberals.
Read what I wrote and decide for yourself:
One of the reasons we have such a sharp political divide in this country is that Democrats and Republicans have less in common than they ever did. When that’s the case, they don’t see problems the same way, assuming each recognizes a problem exists. Some statistics compiled recently by the Brookings Institute illustrate just how sharp the divide is. For example:
–Democrats dominate the most productive parts of the economy. House districts represented by Democrats generate over 63% of the nation’s gross domestic product, with Republican districts making up the rest.
–Household income shows a similar divide. A decade ago, median household income was about the same in each party. Since then, it has jumped nearly 17% in Democratic districts while declining 3% in Republican strongholds.
–Political partisans aren’t likely to run into each other at work either. Democrats represent districts with the biggest clusters of professional jobs, including tech hubs around Silicon Valley and Boston. Nearly three-quarters of jobs in digital or professional industries are in Democratic districts.
By contrast, Republican districts hold a growing share of the nation’s agriculture, mining and low-skill manufacturing jobs, many of which do not require a college degree, have lower pay and are more exposed to overseas competition. (No wonder Trump is fighting a trade war.)
–The two parties represent different kinds of places in the U.S., another reason they’re not likely to intermingle. Once, the parties were geographically intertwined, but the Tea Party revolution in 2010 wiped out Democrats in rural and working class districts in the Southeast and Midwest while the 2018 mid-terms ousted Republicans from many suburbs.
–Finally, people with college degrees are more concentrated in Democratic districts than in Republican districts. Democrats represent all 17 Congressional districts with the highest concentration of college graduates.
Just call us the Divided States of America.