Democrats & Liberals Archives

Blue State Rebels

The talk of Blue America* is an amusing paradox that was hardly discussed before: Red Staters, who are ostensibly against “big government”, actually benefit from it much more than Blue Staters. Blue Staters, on the other hand, support a strong federal government, but are actually getting screwed by it, both financially and politically. (See this essay in Fortune, for example, but the data are all over). An uncharitable interpretation of these facts is that Blue Staters are saps. If they are, they seem to be waking up. This paradigm shift could have massive consequences.

Right now, Blue Staters are supporting a federal government that is largely out of wack with their values. Logically, the only way they can get their money in alignment with their values is by lobbying for broad federal tax cuts (GO BUSH!) and raising their state taxes. Then they can use their tax money to pay for day care centers in Vermont instead of tanks in Baghbad. This is a vast simplification, of course, because the GOP can selectively defund liberal causes at the federal level. Nevertheless, the basic fact that there is a misalignment between money and values is unassailable.

An interesting question is why this obvious fact has only really been noted now. If liberals are rational agents (haha), they should have realized this years ago. I think the proverbial last straw may have been the bitterness of the 2004 campaign. This passage from the cartoon Get Your War On, written in August, may give a clue. (Remember, it’s a CARTOON, not an essay in the New Yorker.):

You know there was a time when I would’ve been sad to hear that OVER A MILLION MORE AMERICANS ARE NOW LIVING IN POVERTY. But now my reaction is “Good, I hope it’s all those Swift-Boat-givin’-a-f*** idiots!”

The character in this cartoon is angry and mean-spirited, but what he is saying has a grain of truth. What can you do about people who hate you so much for being a “liberal” that they can’t see what is in their own interest?

Now, I actually live in Arkansas, a very poor state in the middle of Red America. Furthermore, I would actually be in a position of having to deal some of the consequences if a lot of federal money was withdrawn from Arkansas. (Not saying that I’m a bigwig; just a cog in the machine.) So I can’t really feel any glee at the prospect. But my hunch is that there is going to be a movement from the Left to go along with plans to defund the federal government.

So all you folks in Red States who voted for Bush beware: You may actually get what you asked for.

*Note that I don't actually live there, physically speaking.

Posted by Woody Mena at November 17, 2004 9:30 AM