Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Blue State Walks the Walk on the Family Values the Red States Trumpet

My friend Jeff Gentry led me to this wonderful article from my beloved Boston Globe (oh, sweet mistress of journalistic beauty how I miss thee- but the St. Pete Times is a heck of a paper).

I believe that I have lived in 6 states during my lifetime (sometimes I can't remember). I must say that I am most affectionate for Massachusetts. This so-called Liberal Mass with its liberal Senator from Mass and its gay marriage affirming supreme court had some of the most thoughtful, spiritual, deeply affectionate, sersious minded, well informed, respectful people I have ever come across. For 3.5 years, I felt I was among my people, so when Bush and Cheney continually disparaged the area, I took (and take) it personally.

This commentary from the Globe is a reminder of a statistic I loved to trumpet while living there (when I talked to my friends from the Bible Belt). Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country. The rest of New England follows closely (Blue States). Who has the highest divorce rates in the nation? The Bible Belt (Red States).

Commentators and RRers in the Red States continually remind the rest of us that they have the corner on Family Values, that the Northeast is out of touch with such values (I guess those gay people are not ruining everyone's marriages) and that the Northeast is a secular psuedo-Europe with no understanding of God and the things that matter.

Well, I have moved back to the Bible Belt in a slightly red state. I love much about my home land, but I do miss that Liberal Mass with its low divorce rate, low child abuse rate, low infant moratlity rate, relatively low crime rate, care for the environment, high education rate (best schools in America), best health care in the nation, large number of non-profits (interesting that the socialist state of MA also has higher per capita giving and volunteerism), leaving less children, poor, elderly and underserved behind. Yes, those high taxes pay for something.

New England- God bless you. As the Globe pointed out, you are truly conservative holders of family values. Out of touch with middle America, my arse.

The south apologizes.


Anonymous said...

Just a few interesting observations about the Mass vote:
1) More than 1 million voted for Bush (37%)
2) Bush outperformed ALL other republicans in the state by an average of more than 5%.
One question: Where are you getting your info on Charitable giving?
And one observation about your post:
You continue to paint with such broad strokes that it tends to polarize the whole process. There are many exceptions to all that you said although there is truth there.

Rick said...


My responses...
First of all, regarding Bush's performance in the election in Mass, that was his lowest percentage in the nation (besides DC). I don't think he should be proud of 37% in light of the war on terror, the fact that MA was affected greatly by 9/11 and the fact that a nation rallies around a president during war.

If you notice, Kerry actually did better in Texas (38%). He even won Bush's true home state of CT.

As for stats on charitable giving, From Generosity Index:

“New England is the fastest growing region for increased individual charitable giving: Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut are in the top five. All six New England states now rank in the top 22 states in rates of increased giving.

Massachusetts has third highest increase in charitable giving in the nation, and the highest increase in New England. 1997 was the turning point when giving increased yearly. Prior to 1996 giving in Massachusetts fluctuated.

Additionally in New England there is a spectrum of giving: general population, wealthy donors, corporate donors and private foundations are involved in the sector. This is unlike other states where one type of giving may dominate.”

Also, more to the point I was trying to make, but poorly stated…

“New England states among top ranked in volunteerism. United Way of America released its State of Caring Index in November 2001, citing a nearly 10 percent rise in volunteerism over the past decade. The top-ranked states in terms of volunteerism were: Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The most-improved states: Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Alaska, Michigan, and Indiana. Visit the State of Caring Index at http://www.unitedway.org/stateofcaring/index.cfm”

Since you know of many exceptions, I can show some resources which feel similarly, much of it based upon statistical research. If you want sources for each of the other things I expounded upon, please ask.

Not to be biting, but I found it a case of "pot calling kettle black" when you said I paint with broad strokes that tend to polarize the process. I would say that you are looking through a polarized/partisan lens that sees this as polarizing. I feel that the right has done a good job of polarizing the process and pushing Mass to the fringe.

As a non-Partisan, who will vote for a Republican in 08 if his name is McCain, and would have voted for a Bush 4 years ago if his name was Jeb (the smart one), I feel comfortable saying that the polarizing broad strokes of Fox News and the hate-filled talk radio is louder than that of Hollywood and left wing media outlets (which I don't hear much from, if they have any voice), but not by much.

I remind you that we all paint with broad strokes. You do when speaking of the truth of swift boat veterans (mainstream news felt what they had to say was very unsubstantiated and did not hold up to fact checking and non-affiliated vets), the non-threats of global warming and environmental crisis based upon the work of a few scientists (many of whom are paid for by conservative think-tanks or corporate interests), liberal activist judges (there are some, but the numbers are not terribly high- in fact the most notable activist judge of the past few years, besides the woman in MA is Judge Moore from AL), that most of the voter fraud comes from the left, the Kerry people breaking into Republican headquarters in Orlando, the dangers of secular humanism to our society, liberal activist musicians (as opposed to conservative activist NASCAR drivers) and many other broad strokes.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. We do this to prove a point. It is what our beloved President and VP do on a regular basis (along with DeLay and Frist). It is what the SBC and Religious Right does every day. The biggest broad strokes, mostly unsubstantiated come from Fox News, Rush, Hannity and O’Reilly and Drudge, not just from the so called Liberal Media elite.

Please do not hold me to a higher standard than everyone who actually has a media outlet and makes money from the strokes.

All I am trying to say, is maybe those Blue Staters are not ALL bad. Maybe they have some things to teach us (all of us Red Staters and Values Voters who paint very broad strokes regarding Liberal Mass, Democrats, the Media, gays, etc.). Maybe those Liberal Catholics can teach us superior Protestants something about staying married and faithful, raising good kids, taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, etc. I have found I can learn a lot from the Left, who much of the time has their heart in a good place. My God has worked through them as much as the Values Voters in the South in teaching me about his Good News.

Maybe they are not all wrong and maybe we are not all right! Maybe we can come humbly to those in other places to learn and befriend, not just vilify. I have spent most of my life amongst people I do not agree with (the SBC, which is still home, SWBTS, the republican party, Texas, Mass, church in general, my in-laws and family I could go on).

P.S. I forgot to add the lower rate of alcoholism and alcohol related deaths, as well as the low per capita Topless Bars and Adult Businesses (especially when compared to Houston and Tampa).

Anyway, thanks for resonding to the site. I try to make it provacative enough to make my friends and other readers respond, negatively and positively. I am glad it worked.

Love you man.

sorry I am such a non-right thinking Christian Republican- I wish I could be. It would make life much easier (I never aksed for this lot in life). Other things just matter way too much to me.

g13 said...

i clicked on to your blog in order to defend you, but it seems that you have done your own dirty work (and quite well, i might add).

continue thinking outside of the box. many of us are still listening.

Rick said...


My wife, who is a better judge of decorum than I am, has pointed out the harsh tone of my last response to your comment.

She told me she would cry if someone was that harsh with her. I then tried to delete it but blogger won't let me delete a comment on my own site.

So, my arse is hanging in the wind. Sorry man. Luckily we have been friends for 13 years or so. I hope that covers a multitude of sins.

I was just having too much fun with the snippy comebacks. You know how I am. Don't get me started. The debater in me comes out and I could be hosting Crossfire or Hardball (which is not a good quality as a Christian).

So since I publicly attempted to beat you up, I felt I needed to publicly apologize for the tone. I meant nothing by it (I hardly ever do). I just get caught up in the game (you understand as a sports fan).

Anonymous said...

Rick, I know you are carrying around alot of "heat" and we both have our opinions. My only real questions have been answered in your post (in a most antagonizing/angry way), but I typically don't go there.

There are differing sources for the info on charitable giving. I am well aware of that. I was not paying attention that you were speaking of increase in charitable giving.

My only comment is that I have never once in my life thought (nor heard asserted by others) that people from NE are bad, wrong, ignorant, evil, dangerous to America, or whatever words someone would like to insert into my mouth. I have been privy to lots of the opposite statements since I am from the South, but I take it with a grain of sand. It usually reveals the ignorance of others, rather than the reality of my life. I am sure there are some radical, religious right-wing nutcases (which I actually am a part of) who do feel that NE folk are evil, but in general I think your original post was extremely judgemental (assumptive) of the non-Blue states. So my post was not really intended to reveal your anger (sorry if it did), it was merely to help you realize that most people in Red states are not haters or those in the Blue. They are not the ones speaking of seccession, Jesusland, fleeing to Europe/Canada and the such. Hopefully no one in either area votes based on hate and anger. Although this year it seems several did.
Anyway, this has been a far bigger deal than my comments really warranted. My time is too tight to get into too much of this. I must say I prefer the economy of the face-to-face when we can get it. We all carry around our demons on our sleeves I guess.

kidpositive said...

i just finished living in texas for nine months. i can't tell you how many times i heard people refer to new england as a "spiritual vacuum". the last leg of bush's campaign focused on painting kerry as a "massachusetts liberal", insinuating the very types of ideas that these statistics attempt to refute. these types of thought patterns aren't isolated to just radical right groups, such as christian exodus (the christian group that plans on relocating to south carolina and then seceding from the union), but are extremely common (in my opinion) amongst many people in the southern states.

i think the statistics that rick highlights here are really important, because they are diametrically opposed to these common thought patterns. with so much christian force behind our "values-based" president, such statistics should cause christians a moment of pause to consider what the implications are here, and to rethink how to go about aproaching these social issues.

Anonymous said...

You are totally right on your observations. I did hear the term "Liberal" in the campaign. I don't follow much of the ads, campaigning, etc. due to other activities in life. So if "Liberal" means evil, bad, uneducated, etc., then yes you are right. It doesn't really mean those things to me, however, or my close friends.

Anonymous said...

One more thing before I have to get back to life: Rick and his gang (or defenders), I have not disagreed with the POINT you tried to make that not all people in the Blue states are bad (again, I don't know anyone who would say that and I live in Texas with its high energy consumption, illiteracy rates, and porn shops, but I am sure they exist somewhere). I merely think you could have stated your point and seen what people's responses were. If someone came and attacked your statement, then you could attack them back with all your stats and data. I was merely trying to let you know that it is hard to hear your real message when I (because of my geography) am assumed to be a bigot.