Bouncing back from a few weeks of vacation in the last month, I believe this column from March of 2015 is as pertinent now as it was then, maybe even more so. There is a good deal of Red State vs. Blue State noise out there; hopefully, this incredibly well written piece from last year will help keep these arguments in their proper perspective. Back with more fresh hell next week…
“There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” — Mark Twain
America’s favorite author didn’t like fibs, and he certainly had a problem with fibs that seemed to be backed up (facetiously) by math. That said, he would likely have a hard time with the premise of an interesting column published last week by our left wing friends at the Daily Kos.
Called “Religion, Racism & the Consequences of Republican Policy: Poverty, Obesity, & Incarceration.” Google the piece, take a look.
In case you don’t have a computer handy, I can sum up the major points of the article, which is designed to have you believe that states dominated by Republican voters are suffering from a collection of maladies brought about by their conservative policies. The piece focuses on Southern states, which they maintain:
- are the most religious
- are the most evangelical
- have the most racists
- are controlled by Republicans
- have the lowest wages
- are the most impoverished
- have the highest regional use of food stamps
- have the highest rates of teen pregnancy
- have the highest rates of obesity
- have higher rates of heart disease and stroke
- have higher rates of cancer mortality
- have fewer high school graduates
- have fewer residents with college degrees
- have the highest rates of incarceration
Damn… who knew Georgia and South Carolina qualified as “Hell with gnats, and good barbecue?”
There are some subjective claims here that, while interesting to speculate about, are impossible to validate. I find it hard to believe there is a quantitative scale that can measure the “spirituality” of a given region, Sunday service attendance notwithstanding. Some of the best and most God-fearing people I have ever known refuse to step a foot inside a real church, while lunatics like Charles Manson, Rev. Jim Jones and David Koresh are all self described “church leaders.”
As far as how many “racists” are in any one place, the source material in the piece was based on objectionable “tweets” made after President Obama’s 2012 re-election. If the material is to be believed, there were virtually no “offensive” tweets made in the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming or South Dakota during the period the study was conducted. Either that, or there is no cell service or computer lines in that part of the country.
But let me concentrate for a moment on the numbers that are hard and fast, and put to twisted use in this outrageously flawed essay.
In the state of Georgia I will be happy to agree with the premise that we have a problem with a few of the categories, specifically, teen pregnancy, the high school graduation rate, the number of residents with college degrees and the incarceration rate. But as a resident of one of the most conservative counties in this conservative state, I can tell you these ain’t problems in my neighborhood (or voting precinct).
So where are all the dropouts, poor folks, illegitimate children on state relief, and incarcerated people coming from? They are here in Georgia, no doubt, but they are also hailing from the neighborhoods (voting precincts) of the most consistently liberal voting blocks in the region.
Go the websites of the Richmond and Columbia County Boards of Elections and pull up the precinct by precinct voting records in the last four presidential elections.
Take a good hard look at which precincts vote overwhelming Democratic (some areas to the tune of 90 percent and better), then compare them to the precincts that have the highest percentages of Republican votes (usually in the neighborhood of 75-80 percent). As you assess your data, a stark reality emerges.
It won’t take you but a moment to realize that the better the neighborhood, and the education system, and the lower the crime rate, the more likely you are to be in a Republican stronghold. Inversely, if you are in a crime ridden area, with horrible education stats, and a high rate of public assistance directed at one parent households, congratulations, you have landed in Democrat Central.
Ironically, the wealthy tend to be more diverse in their political beliefs than the poor. There are way more upwardly mobile folks in the South voting Democrat than there are slum dwellers voting Republican. There are anomalies, of course, but the trend is clear.
Okay, so how does Daily Kos (and the rest of the left wing world, for that matter) get off telling us how terribly we compare to the rest of the country when, clearly, the standard bearers of the Democratic Party appear to be the people who are statistically “dragging us down?”
Talk about gall.
I say with clear conscience and absolute certainty, if every hardcore Democrat got up and left the great states of Georgia and South Carolina, every single “stat” the left slams us on would reverse, and we would be listed at the top in almost every category where we are currently deficient.
Conservatives (and especially the GOP) are not perfect by any stretch but, in this neck of the woods, we are the ones more consistently paying the freight and, for the most part, supporting the poor. We do it despite their lack of political support, and we do it despite the failures of the Welfare State as we know it.
Yes, the Red States have baggage, but the majority of it is Bluer than Blue.