Ouch…MyBrain Hurts From Trying To Figure This S@#$ Out

Update: A friend reminded me of this piece the other day and, quite frankly, it is just as true now as it was the day I wrote the damn thing so I decided to update it and it put it “back into circulation” so to speak.

A couple of weeks back a buddy of mine named Andrew pulled one of his now famous MSN-Messenger based blitzkrieg attacks on me.

He logged on, he linked me some seemingly obscure .jpg file, cracked an “oh man, this makes me cry inside” and logged off faster than a fat kid pounces on the last jelly doughnut.

Pretty much your typical Friday morning exchange between the two of us.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I really took a close look at what it was he had sent me.

It was kind of mind-boggling…to say the least.

To my mind’s dismay my friend had sent me a do-it-yourself-one-map-has-it-all collection full of data on recent election trends on a state by state basis.

I mean this monstrosity had it all.

You ever wonder how a states average IQ translated into its voting tendencies?  Well, now you know.

Ever find yourself thinking “are those states crying about ‘welfare moms driving Cadillacs’ pulling their own weight in the big scheme of things?”  Well wonder no more, that’s covered in what I now affectionately refer to as the “Map of Gloom & Doom“.

Have you found yourself questioning just how much religious beliefs come into play when choosing policymakers in some states/regions?  Yeah, you guessed it, that’s in here too.

Now like I said, it is literally a ton of info to digest so I am going to run through it piece by piece and toss in my two-cents worth along the way.

These are just my observations, what I glean from it and in reality nothing more.

The first thing my eyes were drawn to was the phrase “The Real Welfare States” in the upper right hand corner of the thing.  It takes a look at how much federal assistance each state receives in correlation to how much tax money it provides, as well as how those states voted in the 2008 presidential election.

In short, it shows what states “give more than they get” or “get more than they give”.

All but one of the top 18 “give more than they get” states, almost 95%, voted for Barack Obama in the ’08 campaign. The lone GOP stronghold to make the top 18 was the great state of Texas. I’m willing to bet vital parts of my anatomy that all that oil money down there led to a huge chunk of those taxed dollars and is the sole reason Texas found its way into the group.

Now conversely, of the 31 states which receive more than they contribute, 21 states voted Republican in 2008.  That number of almost 66% is actually being kind on the grand ‘ol party since a quick glance at the list of “blue states” in that group shows us Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana found themselves uncharacteristically voting Democratic that year.

Now this isn’t to say those states are comprised of loafers sitting around, drinking their yoohoos in their underwear while munching on cheetos in mom & dad’s basement as they watch Jerry Springer all day.

A big factor in this equation are the actual economies/per capita incomes of these states.  Obviously if a certain state only has the ability to earn so much money then it can only be taxed so much.

But this leads me to another one of those unexplained mysteries of the universe that has always perplexed me.

I, for the life of me, have never been able to understand why the deep south so consistently votes against its own self-interests.

One look at two maps in the lower left hand corner (titled “Income Inequality By State” & “% of People In Poverty”) shows that the parts of the map you damn near always see voting “red” on election nights are the ones who have the greatest disparities in terms of wealth with nearly one-fifth of their populations living below the poverty line.

Not coincidentally, the data found on the map located in the center-left of this beast (titled “The Collective Bargaining Rights Of Public Employees”) shows that these states often times are ones who have either no rights or very limited rights for said employees.

It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize winning economist to figure out that unionized workers earn higher wages, something we should all keep in mind as we watch the events unfolding in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana right now.

So if they aren’t following the mantra “you vote with your wallet” then what is the driving force behind their voting tendencies?

Many have long argued that the GOP has been successfully employing Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” for decades now.

In short, this refers to the late-20th century Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism among Southern white voters and appealing to states’ rights.

Though the “Solid South” had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party’s defense of slavery prior to the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many Southern Democrats were alienated from the party following the African American Civil Rights Movement, the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, and desegregation.

The strategy was first adopted by “Tricky Dick” in the late 1960s and continued through the latter decades of the 20th century under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

But I think that is only a part of the equation, though a sizable one at that.

My eyes could not help being drawn to the data found on a map (titled “State of the States: the importance of religion”)located in the middle of this chart/diagram/Smörgåsbord of information.  Oh my, so much dark green in those southern states.

The dark green, of course, indicates those states in the union are the most religious states by their own admission.

Now this isn’t in and of its own a bad thing.  Those who know me best know that I am a spiritual person, I just have issues with organized religions as institutions.  I do believe in God, I try to live my life in what many would label as a “christian way”, but I truly believe that my relationship with my God is between him/her and me…and absolutely nobody else.

It really doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the most religious of states finds itself voting Republican at such a historically high clip.

Hell (no pun intended), all one has to do is to listen to the rhetoric coming from the mouths of so many GOP leaders, icons, pundits, and personalities to figure out that the Democratic Party has been branded as the one for “Godless heathens”.

There are a litany of what we deem as “social issues” that seem to drive many of these faith-based voters and quite frankly, we all know them rather well.  Abortion, the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, birth control education and stem-cell research are but a few of the major players in this part of the political universe.

And while I won’t tell people what they need to place priority on when coming to important decisions like “who do I want to give the launch codes to?”, I personally try to leave my spiritual beliefs out of it the best I can.

I don’t believe in abortion…but don’t think I have the right to tell another human being what they can or cannot do with their own body.

I don’t believe in a governmental “recognition” of any form of marriage.  I think everyone should operate under the same type of marriage contract that we are asking homosexuals to operate under.  I know that is heresy to some, but I like my politics to be pragmatic.

Because of that pragmatism I think that offering abstinence only birth control education is nothing more than the moral equivalent of giving a drunk guy a loaded gun in a crowd and saying “be careful now, you wouldn’t want to hurt anyone” whilst crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

I also don’t believe in the creation of embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting stem-cells and I am wary of using existing excess embryos for the same purpose, but I have zero problem with the use of adult stem cells or existing embryonic strains that have already been harvested and are literally just “sitting”  there collecting proverbial dust.

I just have HUGE issues with me, or anyone else for that matter, making such profound decisions, ones that affect hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) based primarily on our interpretation of what the scriptures say.

Say what you want, disagree with me if you will, but I don’t see a huge difference between a political system based on that and one based on that dastardly Sharia Law.

In the end public policy based on religious doctrine is what it is, there ain’t no putting lipstick on a pig and callin’ her a prom queen.

Amazingly enough, after having sifted through this big ol’ pile of data and debating what the heck it exactly means I STILL found myself eyeballin’ charts/graphs full of information I could process.

I had often wondered where all these “liberal elitists” lived, somewhat amused by the misguided notion that they all could be found in about three square blocks in Manhattan or the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco.

Well a couple of the maps/charts in this great, big bag of goodies covers this.  Kind of.

In the bottom right corner we find the cleverly titled chart “US Election 2004: Results listed by average IQ”.

IQs aren’t the end all of intelligence obviously so take it for what it’s worth, BUT I have got to say that I was absolutely blown away by what I saw.

We clearly see an ocean of blue as Kerry supporting states accounted for 18 of the top 24 states in terms of intelligence quotient, while the red states who threw themselves behind ‘Dubya filled in a mind-numbing 30 of the bottom 33 (including 100% of the 26 worst performing) states on this dubious list.

Continuing on this topic the map near the middle of the graphic (“Brookings Institute “High School attainment, ages 25 and older, in 2008”) offers up a couple of observations for me.

One, how far have we come that we have to set the bar at “ages 25 and older” to this criteria in order to not look quite so bad?  I mean really?  25?  Why didn’t they just push it all the way out to the retirement age already?

Two, that same little “collection of states” (minus Oklahoma and Virginia) once again finds itself bringing up the rear on education related issues.  The states voting for the GOP averaged out at about an 18% failure to graduate rate, while the “liberal elites” voting for the party of the jackass clocked in closer to 11%.

I was completely flabbergasted by the map in the upper center of Andrew’s creation that showed the list of states where an abnormally high number of children died from maltreatment is almost identical to the list of states that claimed to be “highly religious”.

I really had a hard time digesting how a group of people could simultaneously claim to be a “god loving Christians” while this was happening in their own backyard.  Even if they aren’t the ones perpetrating these crimes (both in a legal and moral sense) they are happening amongst them and are as such inexcusable.

Seriously those of you in these areas.  Lets get to work on correcting that kind of bullshit.

Anyways, I digress.

And finally a pair of maps found in the upper and lower left corners of this brain-cramping, eyeball strainin’, damn-near-seizure-inducing pile of information only confirmed what I already knew about the prototypical southern GOP voter.

To put it blunt, they’re kind of fat.  I know, so politically incorrect of me.

The “Prevalence of Diabetes By County” map (upper left corner) is a dark red that dominates the deep south, bible belt area that votes GOP as sure as the sun will rise in the east.  I mean that red is amazingly prevalent when you look at how little of it appears throughout the rest of nation.

Now it’s worth noting that diabetes is not always related to obesity but lets not kid ourselves…it is the most dominant factor in the onset of the disease.

So it should come as no surprise that after having seen that “sea of red” on that map if one were to scroll down and look at the map in the lower left-hand corner titled “United States Of Obesity 2008” finds all of those same states at or near the top of the charts in terms of the percentage of their populations classified as obese.

Simply put, y’all need to put down the fried twinkies and eat an apple or something because your not doing yourself any favors it seems.

Now how do these last tidbits of info work themselves into this whole equation of who is voting which way and why?  I really don’t know.

But what I do know is that if you or I were an outsider, maybe a European student or a professional in Asia, who stumbled across this jumbolaya of junk you aren’t coming away with a flattering image of the “typical Republican voter” these days.

Now let me 100%, unambiguously clear on something.  I am NOT claiming this is every single person who votes for the GOP these days.  Not even close.

Maybe you’re indeed similar in some senses.  Maybe you don’t line up in so much as one single way with this imaginary person.  Or perhaps this is you one hundred percent to a tee.  I don’t know.

In the end, this is merely the image I have burned into my brain after digesting this cornucopia of material, this plethora of “stuff”. (C’mon Jeff. You know you smiled because I broke out TWO of your favorite words right there)

So without further adieu, here is (according to the best data my buddy Andrew could glean off the wonderful, world-wide-web!) your prototypical GOP voter in the 21st century…

Wait

For

It….

I present to you:

Conservasapien: A somewhat uneducated, low IQ wielding, slightly impoverished, deeply religious, child mistreating, very obese, diabetes suffering individual who keeps electing politicians who deny him collective bargaining rights while he lives in a state where income disparity is at its worst levels…all the while complaining about “welfare recipients” as he personally soaks up more federal tax dollars than he contributes each & every year.

Don’t hurt me!! It’s all in the data =).

P.S. I love you all.  Even if you voted for ‘Dubya once or twice.

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