North America, Middle America, South America and just America what some uses to mean US o fA.
North America, South America, Central America and Texas.
They sound rather like Europeans, or at any rate, those in the northern half. The “dry country Westerners” might have a certain amount in common with those around the Mediterranean, except for the shooting part.
That bit about the supposed dividing lines always shifting is really something too many people don’t seem to get. In 1976 (which is before I was voting, but I had been born–it wasn’t that long ago), the Republican candidate for President of the United States carried Virginia; Michigan; Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut (!); New Jersey and Illinois (!!); and California (!!!). And he lost the election. (The Democrat carried not only Florida, but also Texas and Mississippi and every other Southern state outside Virginia, along with enough Northeastern and Midwestern states to put him over the top.)
The Republican was Gerald Ford, of course, and the Democrat was Jimmy Carter; the point is, these “red vs. blue” patterns have (more or less) persisted for several decades now, but they’re far from immutable cosmic laws.
It’s not horrible. Free America and Real America sound like part of the GOP alliance: they’re the libertarians and the reactionaries. The “true conservatives” are left out, but I can see why: it seems less and less like they actually exist in large numbers.
I would say that Smart and Just tend to be the same people, however, I could see arguing that some people focus more one way or the other. And, in that case, it could be an attempt to describe the progressive/liberal alliance of the Democratic party. I don’t think it’s quite apt, but it can make sense.
I don’t see any reason that these groups would have any real geographic boundaries. It’s just the urban/rural divide again. It’s not like the 11 nations concept, which at least talks about people from different groups of colonists and where they ultimately settled. There’s no reason to think that there was ever a group of Smart people who settled one place and a group of Free people who settled elsewhere.
There are cultural Americas - New England, the Midwest, the Deep South, Texas, Florida, the West Coast, etc.
Packer’s thesis is largely explained by a rural and urban divide, and by rural and urban politics. Not completely. But enough for me.
There are economic Americas, Americas divided by hobby or by history, Americas divided by ethnicity, language, religion, food, sports and seasons. There are many ways to describe a complex melange.
I think this is a lot less off base than the other typologies that seem to come around every 5 years or so. Even though there are fewer typologies it seems like most people can fit into most of the descriptions of one category, whereas in previous categorizations some of their specifics seemed way off base.
Of course it isn’t perfect and anything like this is bound to be overly simplistic. It just isn’t as bad as they usually are.
The country was built on competing interests. North vs. South, of course, but the “West” has always been in opposition to them. What people who aren’t historians forget is that the definition of “West” changes almost every generation. “West” was western Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Indiana, then Missouri, then a jump to California, then Kansas, then Texas, then the places in between Texas and the coast. Most of the splits were economically more than culturally driven but the overlaps were enormous.
The categories in the OP are political groupings. This being the US, that means that ultimately there are only two groups that matter, Democrats and Republicans, and one dominant group with some smaller allied groups within those two parties. All smaller groups end up being part of an alliance dominated by the two largest blocks. What happened is that the largest block in the Republican Party lost that position when Trump rose to power, and now the members of that part of the party are in the phase of having to decide whether they’ll adjust their principles and join with the new group or leave the party, the same way the Dixiecrats did back in the day when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act.
Yes, presumably the smart and just Americas are stand ins for the moderate and far left parts of the Democratic party. By and large I don’t think that these two parts actually disagree all that much in terms of policy goals, the disagreement is more over tactics. Should the system be reformed gradually or is immediate radical change is needed? The difference seems to be largely generational with the idealistic younger liberals demanding instant change, while the older liberals are more focused on the art of the possible.
I think you’re correct about this. Us older liberals (and I’m only 44!) remember how going with someone like Michael Dukakis was a recipe for failure while a mere four years later a more moderate Bill Clinton had much greater success. My guess is that even in 2020 the same would have applied. Trump would have wiped the floor against Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
I think the typology is pretty accurate, although I don’t think it’s a sorting-hat kind of thing, but rather one of those radar chart sorts of things where everyone has a value for each of the “four Americas”, with most people having a strong peak in one of them.
I mean, I know LOTS of people who are either Just America with Smart America secondary, or the reverse with Smart America first and Just America second (@Buck_Godot’s tactical concept really), and I know a lot of people who are also Real America with a smaller dose of Smart America (most suburbanite Trumpers fall into that category, for example).
All of these are about as scientific as dividing the world into any number of races. You can put lines anywhere you want and apply logic to them, but someone else can put the lines in different places with just as much logic.
Or you can plot people against the different axes of the Political Compass:
Come to think of it, there is a political realignment going on in the British electorate, as in yours. It’s more than just urban vs. rural, more small towns vs. big cities, “left behinds” vs. “go aheads”. This was working in favour of Brexit and the headbanging wing of the Tories, but a surprise result in a by-election in a strongly and traditionally Tory seat suggests plenty of their traditional supporters may now feel they’re the ones being overlooked.
I’ll note that Packer actually isn’t saying there are “Four Americas” in the same sense as the “Nine Tribes.” His article title doesn’t clearly match its text, in the text of the article it’s more clear he is saying there are four major ideological “narratives” of what America is and how it should be. He doesn’t necessarily treat these camps as tribes of people per se, they are ideological in nature and thus the degree to which individuals hold these collections of opinions that fits their world view in one of these narratives will vary. I do think he kinda hit it on the head from that perspective.
If you had to name two major narratives dominating the Republican party, one of them is definitely the “Real America” shit, and I think the most prominent other one is the “Free America” faction. That faction clearly comprises less people, but it’s still probably the most dominant “narrative about America” in the party after the “Real America” narrative.
The Democrats are likewise in my opinion accurately pegged as being first the party of “Smart America” i.e. the Clintonesque meritocrats who value expertise, education, and prize jobs and lives built around attainment that requires those things. And probably the second most prominent narrative in the party is the social justice movement that Packer broadly calls “Just America.”
Is it perfect? Nah. Is it useful? Eh, maybe. I found the Nine Tribes stuff useful and I think it had a lot of flaws too. Articles like this aren’t going to change society, they just tend to establish a framework for thinking about things and there’s been a lot of them over the years, I think they can be useful and I think the article was well done.
That’s very wide of the mark. Both sides place high value on social identities, but in different ways. One side cares about nationality, religion, and probably race (but they wouldn’t admit the last). The other cares about race, gender, LGBT status, etc. Both have become obsessed with purity of belief and will quickly turn on anyone who doesn’t toe the party line.
That’s not true. Leave won in large northern cities, in the Midlands including Birmingham, and the Welsh valleys. Remain won in London, Scotland, and to a lesser extent NI. It would be more accurate to describe it as a divide between poor and neglected post-industrial areas, and the wealthier service-oriented capital(s).
The ‘red wall’ seats lost to the Conservatives in the last general election are defined similarly and mostly voted for Brexit in the referendum.
His 4 Americas theories doesn’t seem take into that non-voters are the largest block of voting age Americans.
In the recent Pew report on voter breakdowns, they even surveyed non-voters on their 2020 preferences. Those surveyed who didn’t vote indicated a preference for Biden by a double digit margin.
I hope I’m remembering that right.
The problem I have with the political compass as usually depicted is that there are more than two axes of political viewpoints. One not expressed in the two dimensional version, for example, is attitude to foreign affairs, with interventionism at one end and isolationism at the other. This axis is, I think, independent of the economic and social axes commonly presented.