There are only two kinds of people in the world: the kind that thinks there are only two kinds of people in the world, and the other kind.
So what divides us the most consistently and predictably? And by “us” I mean all of humanity. Is it my religion vs. your religion? My language vs. yours? Liberal vs conservative? Haves vs. have-nots?
I think the most universal source of differences among us has to be the urban/rural divide.
If you come from a remote, sparsely populated place where your nearest neighbor is a long way off and where self-sufficiency is vital, you probably have a really different outlook on life than the person who lives in a big city in close proximity to all kinds of other people and who is not required to grow his own food or build his own house.
If you look at the places around the world where religion and culture have merged, where local government is everything and federal government is nothing, where women are most thoroughly under the control of men, where factional warfare between families, tribes, villages, sects and so on is the most common and persistent, well, you’re looking at sparsely populated, remote regions. Think Afghanistan, Yemen, Rwanda.
Even in a world of universal connectivity and instantaneous, affordable global communication, if you live in a place where you come in personal contact mainly with the same people and their families every day for your whole life, you’re going to have a much different perspective than someone who lives in a bigger city, or who travels a lot and maybe has lived in a few different places in his life.
In this country, talking about the divide between red states and blue states misses the point completely. At the state level, there is really very little difference among us, which is why the “swing” states swing.
But if you look below the covers, even to the county level, a clearer picture emerges.
Better yet, think of it as regions of population sparsity/density and the differences between Trump America and Clinton America are clear.
Virtually every medium and large population center in the U.S. went “Blue”. We live in a highly developed, affluent country where everyone speaks the same language, spends the same currency, has access to the same TV shows, buys the same range of products from the same companies, and so on. But the urban/rural divide asserts itself nonetheless. It’s not so very different from living in Kandahar vs., say, Helmand province. Or Karachi vs. Waziristan.
I don’t know how our differences can be reconciled if the three branches of the federal government and the fourth estate, too, pander to and amplify those differences. And even if they don’t.