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Brooks and the Two Americas

There is a thing called Red America—the small towns and the people living in it—and the Blue America, where most folks from the cities and urban areas stay. The differences between the lifestyles of these two kinds of America are so vast. But Blue America lifestyle is better known than that of Red America. The difference between Red America and Blue America can be best understood in terms of lifestyles. The Red American lifestyle is simple, rugged and it is usually spent in farms, rural areas and small towns. But Blue America means individualism, busyness and modern.

Red America is also the America still steeped in church life and belief. These distinctions between Red America and Blue America seems to border on stereotyping but David Brooks (587) managed to present evidences—anecdotal and statistical—to back his claims about these differences. From fashion statements of working men in Red and Blue Americas, from the food people eat, and the jobs they do. He also outlines a number of issues in which the citizens of Red and Blue Americas are divergent. Issues on homosexuality and views about other races as well as church attendance and views about hunting and McDonald’s.

Interestingly, Brooks asks a number of piercing questions about the unity of the United States. A lot of changes are happening in the country, but it seems that these happenings, especially those relating to diversity and economic mobility, are centered in Blue America. The types of jobs that people do in these two types of America are not very heterogeneous. Even the image of people from the two types of America can be easily predicted. This is stereotyping based on several observations among the working classes from both kinds of America.

Such stereotyping may be warranted given the scant attention given to citizens of Red America. Red America, Blue America and the Forgotten Middle Ground While Brooks discourages hasty generalizations about Red America folks and gives a bit of warning by saying that there is the barest of curiosity and attention being devoted to Red America, he may also be accused of hasty generalizations. The evidences he presented tend to be based on broad strokes of statistics and other data—he considers the two extreme positions without much regard for the middle ground.

He dwells on the extreme characterization of the members of Red America and also in Blue America. As such, he failed to take into account the middle class in Blue America and those who do not hold extreme positions and convictions in Red America. Based on his description, the reader may come to the generalization that all members of Blue America are affluent and they are eager to throw their money away. Perhaps if Brooks presented the middle ground, his article would have taken a different turn and it might have been more balanced and less stereotypical.

Brooks also ask if “Americans [are no] longer a common people? ” as if the basis of a united America is having same views, having the same fashion statements and level of economic prosperity. Again, the dichotomy he presents is not as clear-cut as he makes it appear to be. Brooks also investigated whether class division conflict is still in force in the United States. His interviews revealed that a number of people from both Red American and Blue America believe that the division is between those with more resources and those who do not.

At first, he seemed to be operating with a mindset that divided America along economic and lifestyle lines. Yet, towards the end of his article, he exclaims that the United States is a cafeteria nation composed of different kinds of people with different kinds of preoccupation and beliefs and ideas. But it is still united when disaster strikes or when there is a need to help one’s neighbor no matter what the economic or political situation of the neighbor is.

An initial reading would make it seem that Brooks was engaged in rhetoric where he presented the divisions among Americans at first but then he presented what makes United States united. Such pronouncements, however, does not erase the important issues he raises about differences in views, beliefs, practices and yes, even fashion statements. Such declaration of stereotypes cannot be easily erased by a statement saying that Americans are united to their way of life and empowerment of the individual.

In Brooks’ reading, whatever differences the Red and Blue Americas was undermined by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Deep-set differences such as the ones he enumerated in the earlier parts of his essay cannot be easily set aside. In the final analysis, the unity engendered by the 9/11 is artificial and bound to fall when the price of war becomes apparent, as it is now. Works Cited Brooks, David. One Nation, Slightly Divisible. Atlantic Monthly, December 2001. 27 February 2009 <http://www. theatlantic. com/issues/2001/12/brooks. htm>

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