I’ve Been Thinking

Don’t normally post about international or domestic politics, but over the last week or so I found striking similarities between the political pressures in China and in the United States. My comments are not designed to be partisan (those thoughts are not the subject matter of any of my posts).

I start with a post by George Friedman, a noted political scientist and commentator whose viewpoint fairly can be summarized (at least by me) as “geography is history and does not change.” At risk of collapsing too much data into this restatement, I believe he sees the history of China since it was opened to the West in mid-19th century as a tension between the internationally oriented trading areas on the coast and the left-behind inland areas. One suggestive factoid: when Mao wanted to seize the country he had to leave the coast, take the great march inland, and find his army in the hinterlands.

Today’s on-line mid-day NBC News had an interesting piece on US politics; seems our US equivalent of this dynamic is not all about the coasts so much as those US areas with robust international airline contacts. NBC divides the country based on international orientation of airports, and those areas with substantial international exposure (many but not all are along the coasts) are trending Democratic and those airports in non-international areas (different from “rural areas”) are trending the other way.

Without drawing any conclusions about American elections or Chinese policy, I was struck by what seems to be a common socio-political dynamic: areas of a country end up with different outlooks and sensibilities depending on exposure to non-domestic exposure, and these differences appear to have significant rather than merely interesting political ramifications. This seems logical when you think about it, but never thought about it that way before, and sorting the US polity by airport analysis I thought was fascinating.

Blog posts don’t have the space for deep dives, but those interested might take a look for themselves.


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