The Washington Post published an intriguing article on the “11 American nations.” These refer to regions of North America “where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.” The national map, broken down by county (in the U.S.), shows the following nations:
1) Yankeedom in the Northeast, known for embracing government regulation over individual liberty.
2) New Netherland, encompassing a tiny region of New York and New Jersey known for attracting historically persecuted populations.
3) The Midlands stretching from the Northeast into Iowa, Nebraska, and surrounding areas. This region is known for supporting the middle class and rejecting government intrusion.
4) Tidewater, consisting of parts of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware, tends to value tradition and authority.
5) Greater Appalachia, including West Virginia, the Smokey Mountains, and Northwest Texas, values individual liberty and tends to be suspicious of “lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers.”
6) The Deep South, stretching from South Carolina down to Florida and over to East Texas, values local control of government, states’ rights, and resists the expansion of federal government.
7) El Norte, consisting mainly of Southwest Texas and the border region stretching to California, values hard work and self-sufficiency above all else.
8) The Left Coast refers to the extreme Western coast, from the middle of California up though Canada, and between the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada. This region is actually a hybrid combining elements of Appalachian independence and Yankee utopianism.
9) The Far West refers to the Rocky Mountain region and Great Plains. Libertarianism and a distrust of large powerful institutions, be they corporations or government, reign here.
10) New France is actually two very distant regions — one in Southern Louisiana and the other in Quebec. These areas feature a high level of tolerance of others and acceptance of government involvement in economic affairs.
11) First Nation is a region of Northern Canada stretching to Alaska, characterized by approximately 300,000 Native Americans who retain sovereignty over their lands.
Behaviorally, how are we to make sense of these 11 “nations”? Easy. These nations involve macrobehavior. Sigrid Glenn (2004) introduced the term to refer to the cumulative behavior of many individuals that have similar behavioral content. If macrobehavior produces a cumulative effect of some sort, Glenn regards the relation between the two as a macrocontingency.
A straightforward example given by Glenn (2004) is the macrobehavior of many people driving to work everyday, the cumulative effect of which may be increased air pollution. In the case of the “11 nations” one cumulative effect mentioned in the article was voting outcomes. The outcome of an election is determined by macrobehavior — many individuals acting in a cumulative fashion with similar behavioral content. The cumulative effect is a change in government.
But given the cumulative effect under discussion, one could extend the relevant macrobehavior to include the lifestyle choices reflected in the “nations” described above. In other words, if a given population prefers to live a certain way, they are likely to vote a certain way, and thus produce a certain cumulative effect at the polls. Macrobehavior can therefore predict future macrobehavior and associated outcomes.
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