Friday, October 18, 2013

Where is crazy?

It's easy for a liberal like me to conclude that there's something psychogenic in the water to my north. Michele Bachmann, one of the nuttiest nuts of the far right, a fact-challenged, mean-spirited demagogue, has been elected four times to the Minnesota Sixth Congressional District. It changed shape before the 2012 election, but she still pulled it out.

So I wonder about that place up there. And I wonder, where exactly is the crazy coming from? Here's the answer, more or less:

To be fair, this is also a test of the MaPublisher Web Author tool. I'm not as impressed as I hoped: you'll note that there are voting districts that you can't get data from on rollover, and there were issues with export from Illustrator. But it's good enough for here and now.

There is texture to the district: rural Cokato and Luxemburg Townships are up close to 70% for Bachmann, and the areas that include St Cloud State and the twinned College of St Benedict and the University of St John all track in the mid 20s. But there's a lot of 45-55, both in rural (lean toward Bachmann) and town (lean away) precincts.

Bachmann squeaked out an overall win in 2012 over Jim Graves, 180,131 to 175,923. So it's not as simple as "how can level-headed Minnesota keep sending that nutbar back to DC?!?"

So here's a bigger-scale question: why does farm country breed the kind of attitude that permits Bachmanns? And not just farm country but farms themselves: the small towns vs the townships are distinctly tilted further away. I'm a city boy, and I just don't get it, even when I talk with rural classmates. Is there something fundamental about farming that makes the kind of society I live in here in Minneapolis abhorrent in and of itself? Or does it work the other way around: the sort of person who thrives on egalitarian, diversity-driven-ness tends to flock to the city? In a mobile society, like finds like?


Marshall Massey said...

“...Why does farm country breed the kind of attitude that permits Bachmanns?”

Well, as a start: Farm country is the home to a more ordered, traditionalist, predictable society and culture than one finds in cities, and farmers want that defended. Which includes not only a defense of mores and of cultural tics, but also a defense from meddling by outsiders with alien values. Bachmann plays on all of that, does she not?

natcase said...

She does. But it's interesting to me that it's not just farm country, but farms specifically. The rural towns are all noticeably less tilted to Bachman than neighboring rural townships. I think there's something impatient of nuance in farming: farmers don't have time for subtlety and debate; they have stuff to do that will die if they put it off. This from a very small sample of farmer friends. It's so much bloody work, and so much of it is less about getting along with diverse people, and more about dealing with crap right here. That's my theory for this evening anyway.