Monday, February 27, 2006

Midwest vs. Great Lakes

I found some confusion in the comments here with regard to what constitues the "Midwest." The Midwest is a predominately farm region composed of states on the Great Plains, south of Canada, north of Texas, east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi river. It is a largely rural, poor region with few significant cities. Moreover, it is also the most reliably conservative area of the nation -- other than Iowa & Missouri, a Democratic nominee has failed to capture any of these states since 1964. Hell, these states didn't even vote for Roosevelt or Truman after 1936.

The Midwest is really composed of all of the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. I would add Oklahoma, although many would call it southern. Note that Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and northern Texas could also be considered to be thge midwest. Texas has too much of a self-contained identity. Although it is also arguably southern, it's just Texas, asscrack of the union. Colorado, Wyoming and Montana all have strong identities as Western states, so I would consider them Mountain West rather than Midwest, evn though the bulk of those states is composed of high plains.

The Midwest is rather distinct from the Great Lakes region, which is a mainly industrial region composed of states with a Great Lakes shoreline that is east of the Mississipi, west of the Appalachians, north of the Ohio River and south of Canada. The Great Lakes region is pretty much the Big Ten states, minus Iowa and PA -- Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. These are some of the bluest states in the nation; only Indiana is reliably red and Ohio generally votes with the winner, R or D.

We have some of the largest cities in the nation (Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul) and are the most heavily industrialized and unionized section of the country. We have some of the finest universities (Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin, Chicago, Minnesota), most of them fine public institutions. Do not confuse the Great Lakes region with the Midwest. It raises the dander of this Michigander.

As to coastal elitism, I really haven't experienced it from West Coasters -- they're a pretty laid back bunch. East Coasters, on the other hand . . . Many is the time on one of these sites when a fellow progressive has treated me and my brethren like some kind of Green Acres bumpkin because I'm from a "backwater midwestern" state -- even though metro Detroit has more people than most eastern cities. There is a certain elitism; why I cannot say, given that NYC is hardly some recreated Emerald City (although contrary to Mr. Baum's character, I still say that the Emerald City is better than Kansas, but I suppose that's my Great Lakes elitism).

At any rate, this analysis is rather clumsy because it is on a state level. Regions often go beyond states. I'd extend the Great Lakes region to portions of all states touching the lakes, including the Erie to Pittsburgh section of PA and the Buffalo to Rochester section of NY. In addition, the western portions are clearly Midwestern. As to Indiana, outside of he Gary-Ft. Wayne section, it seems to embody the worst crackerism of the south and the worst hickesque elements of the Midwest, with none of the charm of the former nor the pitiable economic rot of the latter. That is, it's the worst of all possible worlds.

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