Why Blue States Are the Real ‘Tea Party'

Steven Johnson, writing for The New York Times:

Recall the line from “Cabinet Battle #1” from the musical “Hamilton”:

“If New York’s in debt —

Why should Virginia bear it? Our debts are paid, I’m afraid

Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade”

There’s a straight line that connects that caricature of more urban Northern states living beyond their means in the late 1700s to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens in the 1980s: the prevailing sense that the big cities are dependent on government bailouts and benefits, while the less dense regions live responsibly. That sketch might have been accurate two centuries ago (at least if you took slavery out of the equation) but it bears no resemblance to the current economic map of the United States, where the major cities are now overwhelmingly the engines of economic growth and wealth creation — and also tax revenue.

This is an interesting piece, and anecdotally, I’d be willing to admit that there might be something there—I don’t remember this many liberal friends being this openly angry about politics. Honestly, I feel like there are more people expressing their feelings post election than before. But in breaking down his analysis by state, Johnson is missing a piece of the puzzle: counties. There has been a lot of misinformation spread on the internet lately (sometimes by Trump’s Chief Strategist’s website) about how many counties Hillary Clinton won or did not win. But, as is the case with most good propaganda, there is a kernel of truth. Take just New York for example. There are 62 counties in New York—Hillary Clinton won 16 of them. New York is a blue “state” because of New York City and a couple of surrounding counties. I would assume that if you broke Johnson’s math down on a county-by-county basis, it would still hold up, but you can’t kid yourself—there’s a divide here. We either bridge the divide, or radically change the system, but trying to simply get back to the result we want by doing different math is never going to work.