Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Iowa and New Hampshire

The Washington Post has a feature on the political cultures of New Hampshire and Iowa. I'm a native of the Granite State, and so I'm clearly biased, but I think that New Hampshire comes across better than Iowa, where the most notable aspects that stand out in the story are the idea of "Iowa Nice" and the fact that Iowa is "family oriented." As for the first element, Minnesotans probably more famously claim something called "Minnesota Nice," which and this brings us to Midwestern stereotypes that in the end aren't very useful. The second assertion is actually quite bothersome. Iowans are "family oriented" relative to whom, precisely? The northeast (and Blue States generally), after all, tends to have lower divorce rates. (And if this chart is to be believed, those nice Iowans commit almost every significant crime at a higher rate than people in New Hampshire. I'm sure they do it nicely. But I'm just sayin' is all.)

Ultimately I'm wary of trying to provide these kinds of generalizations about entire states or regions. Iowa has lots of nice people who love their families, I'm sure. But almost certainly no more so than Massachusetts or New Hampshire or Texas. Claiming to love families is a bit like saying one supports human rights or education. It's the low hanging fruit because no one actually opposes those things. In any case, if the purpose of the article is either to confirm or deny the vaunted status of Iowa or New Hampshire, I doubt this article will shift the terrain of the debate.

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