The recent mid term elections in the United States have given President Barack Obama a resounding slap in the face. It seems that Americans, swept away on the tide of hope and change that Obama represented a scant two years ago, have now drawn a collective breath and are wondering out loud "what were we thinking?"
It's natural for a sitting president to endure a downturn in his fortunes at mid term, but the loss of over 60 seats to Republicans in the House of Representatives, grimly hanging on to a Democratic majority in the Senate, and watching most Governorships go to Republicans, even in the so-called blue states of Michigan and Illinois rank as a stern repudiation in the "Audacity of Hope."
What does all this mean?
As the map above indicates, the U.S. is a severely divided country. When one listens to Republican politicians and pundits on the major networks, it becomes clear that what happened in 2008 was an abberation. Democrats do well in the north-east and the far west coast, where urban liberalism seems to exist if not flourish, but the rest of the nation is staunch Republican bible-belting, gun toting, family values preaching, my country right-or-wrong, socialist fearing rubes who deserve each other. The term "Jesusland" is an apt one. If one ever travels to this part of the world, one encounters more churches that you can shake a crucifix at. Baptist preachers easily cross over the line from church into state in their pulpits here, and the belief in a manifest destiny of a God loving crusade has its most ardent devotees here.
The one problem with the above map is the designation of the rest of the continent as "The United States of Liberty and Education." The intent here, of course, is to show that the north-east US and all of Canada espouse liberal ideals and a clear separation of church and state. It is supposed to be progressive rather than conservative, open-minded rather than rigid, and free from bigotry, suspicion of collectivism, and worship of the gun. It is rather flattering that, despite the "United States" designation, it includes all of Canada.
Not so fast !
The electoral map of Canada to the right shows a slightly different interpretation of how the continent lines up. The dark blue, which is the dominant colour, represents support for the Conservative Party, which happens to be the governing party in Canada. Red is Liberal and Orange is the "socialist" NDP party. The light blue is the peculiar Bloc Quebecois, a nationalist Quebec only party.
Do you see much red on the map? There is some, but don't be fooled by the large swatch of it in the north. Those are sparsely populated ridings. You have to look hard for red or even orange in the south of Canada, where most people live. Our politics is sharply divided, too. Liberalism seems to lodge only in urban areas, hardly visible on the map: Toronto, west Montreal, Ottawa, and some of Vancouver, where most Canadians live, are liberal red or NDP orange. Conservatives rule the roost in the hinterland.
So, the truth of where Jesusland exists is this. Take just about all of the southern and mid-western United States: throw in Alaska, eastern Washington state, eastern Oregan, and north-eastern California: add parts of border states in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota: throw in the entire province of Alberta: stir in the interior of British Columbia, southern Saskatchewan, western Manitoba, and lots of rural Southern Ontario. Toss in the Yukon and North-West Territories, where hunting and trapping are still the favourite sports. Forget about Quebec entirely: please, just forget about Quebec !! Shake vigourously. Pour out onto the world. What do you have?
God help the rest of us !!