Identifying Red America: What is it?

I have a fairly open question. As I think about potential business opportunities for/in red states/red America, particularly in the consumer goods and entertainment sectors (entertainment defined as anything done with someone’s free time), I am curious as to what other people believe are the characteristics of Red America and how they characterize the type of people who live there. In essence, I would like to understand what the general consensus of the Red American identity is. Or, if there are even any generally agreed upon characteristics, values, principles, culture, etc. which set it apart from Blue America. Thoughts?

An excellent question. I will list a number of attributes that I think describes “red America” but I want to start with a core idea that I think is rarely addressed:

Everyone in a culture functions to receive, develop, and transmit their culture from and to the preceding and following generations. We inherit our grandmother’s recipe and her wedding dress and we make each our own and so on…

Today’s “red Americans” want to continue that practice through family, extending out into their towns and so on.

Woke America wants to abandon all of that. They don’t want their grandmother’s recipe. They want the newest, trendiest recipe that all of their friends got. They don’t want their parent’s values, they want their university’s values or celebrity’s and so on. They do want to build and develop on a tradition, they want the approval of an existing elite, no matter how distant from them it may be.

The critical disagreement is WHO should be the respected focal point of cultural transmission? This is what produces the core attributes of “red” America:

  1. Value’s family… loyalty, fidelity, and respect for family matters. It’s important to us to believe that our spouses won’t discard us at mildest of inconveniences. It matters that we inherit from our parents and give to our children, values and material things. The family is the institution that we respect the most and aspire to be part of.

  2. Faith in God… this is largely a Christian assertion. We believe in Christ, unapologetically, and we believe that our culture should reflect this.

  3. Liberty… explicitly as Americans, we expect and demand to be free, and to suffer the consequences of that freedom. This heavily informs our politics.

  4. The American paradox: want to be left the hell alone but we also want to jump to help people in need and vice-versa. We’re individualistic but not solipsistic. Our individualism is anchored in community. We want to create value and benefit from it but we find conspicuous consumption grotesque.

  5. Trust… America runs on trust and in order to be trusted one must be trustworthy. We’re the people who want to trust and who want to be trustworthy in return. This is why right-wing “grifters” are so despised because they make impossible for us to be the people we want to be.

  6. Aspirational… we’re not “'murica.” We’re not the biggest, dumbest, most self-indulgent expression of “freedom.” Rather, we’re the people who want to see the world improve. We care about health, fitness, technology, conservation, art, corporate responsibility, and so on… we want to live better lives. We just might disagree on what constitutes “better.”

That’s who I think we are.

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I definitely agree with family values and faith (I would go farther and say Christianity, given the demographic make up of those states is obviously predominantly Christian) being at the very center of Red America/Red States. Growing-up and residing in Red America, I think it is clearly coincides with reality that a genuine love of country and our history, as well as the various heritages of the communities which make up those states is also a part of Red America’s cultural composition.

Interestingly, I think there are a few bifurcations we should consider as we examine this topic.

  • One is geographic: I think we should consider geography and residence when considering what makes up Red America, at least as it informs some of its objective characteristics. What I mean by this is it is the people who reside in red states (maybe red areas in blue or purple states, but what impact those people can have as a driver of culture and politics is limited because of the composition, cultural, and power dynamics within their states), their cultures, and their history, are the foundations of what Red America is. To further illustrate what I mean: I think that as you try to discover and define what Red America is, you cannot reasonable take someone who has grown up in and works in NYC or southern Connecticut and say that they will have the same culture, attitudes, outlook, and tastes as someone who grew up in Ohio, Texas, or Georgia. There are clearly many differentiating factors. Doing so will lead to problems as you try to build businesses or products for Red America.

  • The other is age: I believe there is a growing difference in the outlooks on the role of government, society, and values between those generally under 40 and those over 40 located in Red America. For example: what a right leaning Red American of the age of 25 thinks on certain traditionally held viewpoints of the GOP is going to likely be different than a Red American of the age of 60 (the role of government and use of governmental power is an item that comes to mind- the younger group taking a more aggressive stance than the older). And, I believe the difference will only increase with time, as the situation in America progresses through this time of change/turbulence (a 4th turning is the analogy which Bannon likes to use).

The point I try to remind myself of as I consider this topic is there is a foundation to Red American identity which already exists and it is defined/directed by the people who make up reside in red states. But, it will be up to people to build and emphasize what that identity is, and contrast that with Blue America as we go forward - otherwise, there is no Red America market.

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Speaking to the business opportunities part of your question, I can’t help but agree that Red America still lacks a purpose-built market. That being said, it’s hard to ignore the surprising amount of small businesses (restaurants, etc.) owned by the Americans Kennaquhair describes in the heartland. Even if they’re isolated due to their size and reach (or lack thereof).

And beyond identifying owners through factors such as geography/age/faith/virtue, etc., I see a silver lining in the vaccine mandate. Many businesses who don’t even profess to be right-leaning are refusing to comply out of an actual conviction. Namely, when push comes to shove, they refuse to be an extra-judicial means for the current administration’s goals. In my view, this is a clear distinction from Blue markets that rely on such collaboration for their public image (if not simply acting on personal convictions).

If someone wanted to create a Red American Market, I see that infrastructure being built by a Red consulting firm. Unlike corporate America, they could approach these disparate small businesses with the prime promise of connecting them to each-other. For example, an allied Winery in California could be introduced to a restaurant in Illinois. Unlike regular networks, these are largely ‘un-cancelable’, or at least more reliable, as the supply and customer bases were directly scouted for their shared values. While less accurate for the restaurant example, these are firm foundations for red businesses to expand. Rather than being limited to their locality, they can look to the whole nation’s red communities for whatever their particular area lacks. Where blue American sees these areas as a liability (If not for ideological reasons, than due to the lack of urban density to make the job easy), this theoretical firm would consider these places as their prime demographic. That’s to say nothing of the Parler debacle being fresh on everyone’s minds.

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Meritocracy- rewards based on merit-not skin color or entitlements. Limited Government.

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Here’s my brief suggestion for the night. For 70+ years America has been the bulwark of freedom for the entire world, mainly against the threat of communism. Our parents fought and died not only for us, but for the world. Now communism and its various associated pathologies have become an internal threat rather than an external one. Its poses as us, but it is not us, not what has been our greatest defining characteristic for the better part of a century, and even since the beginning. We need to both remember this ourselves, and insist on it before the eyes of the nation and the world. We are REAL AMERICA. That is our identity, above all else.

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I agree with all of the above points and the appeal to meritocracy below. The only thing that I might is this:
While many in “Red America” may not be able to verbalize this attribute I think it is fundamental to their understanding of the American heritage. Cristian Americans in the face of monumental opposition from every major institution of American life have maintained the position that Christian virtue is necessary for the continuation of the Republic. The argument over whether the United States is a fundamentally Christian country goes back to the founding. While some of the founders (principally Jefferson, Paine and Franklin) subscribed to Deism, most of them were unquestionably Christians. (No need for a theological argument here just pointing out that the founders had mixed theological understandings). The first amendment gave the founders, and their fellow Americans, the ability to set aside their differences in theological opinion and create a republic founded in liberalism and the philosophical theories of the enlightenment. This allowance, however, was only possible in a nation where the population understood the cultural heritage of the west because Christian were in the majority. Today, the Left has seized upon our cultural heritage and tried to erase the dialogue between the founders on Christianity in America. They have used the first amendment (and some of the founders more deistic tendencies) to claim that it was the founders intention that American public life should be devoid of any allusion to faith. The left (through its communist and atheist tendencies) and the right (through its libertarian and anarchistic tendencies) have both forcefully stripped our schools of even the most agnostic discussions of philosophy and religion. Red America in the (generally) Christian formation of their conscience, understands that the free expression of religion requires that philosophy and theology be part of political, cultural and social life. While they see the utility of freedom of religion and embrace the merits of liberty, they know that without the Christian perspective, western liberal democracy will be replaced by the fascism and communism. The left and libertarian right (principle the neocons) have tried to define liberty as the freedom to do what ever you please so long as it isn’t illegal (and sometimes to do illegal things in the name of equity). Red America sees liberty as the freedom to do “the right thing”. (With “the right thing” generally defined as what is prescribed by traditional Christian virtue)

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Where there is no vision the people perish.

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I would like to ask: How can Red America exist within Blue America?

Wasn’t there some sort of statistic to the effect that most Trump voters lived in blue states by number or some such thing? In any case, there are quite a few.

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The short answer, I don’t think it can. Eventually the political apparatuses and corporations in those states will force those people to move to Red states, or those forces will convert their children to Blue staters (in terms of ideology). Other examples that will continue to force people to move include: vaccine mandates, BLM riots (the implicit support and unwillingness to equally enforce/apply justice), and allowing woke ideology in public education.

I’m not sure there is such a thing. Our differences have been exaggerated to suit an agenda. WE should be blue, not RED. Nuff said.