Sunday, November 4, 2007

David Brooks-"One Nation Slightly Divisible"

The article “One Nation Slightly Divisible” by David Brooks was mainly about the distinct lifestyles that two obvious classes live in, though in the same state or country. Brooks describes Franklin County as a completely different world from Montgomery County. Franklin County is considered Red America and Montgomery County is considered Blue America; both refer to the 2000 presidential election. It is not necessarily a negative aspect that there are such deep differences between Red and Blue America. Red America lives by the simple things in life, rugged, humble, small, close community while Blue America is busy, independent, individualistic, sophisticated, and incredibly modern. I found this article to be very true, however in some ways biased toward Franklin County because it was depicted as a city on a hill, which does not really exist.

First, Brooks analyzes the types of jobs people have, specifically men who work outdoors and men who work indoors in Franklin County. He states “[…] hair cut […] as a mullet […] to show how hard they work, so they will often have a gigantic wad of keys hanging from a belt loop, a tape measure strapped to the belt, a pocket knife on a string […]” (584). This makes all these men sound like the same repair man. But he then remarks that men who work indoors wear “[…] slacks, which they bought at a dry-goods store, best known for its appliance department, and a short sleeved white Van Heusen shirt[…] Their image projects not ‘I work hard but ‘I am a devoted family man’” (585). Later, he compares how Blue America people drive to work;"people who went to business school or law school need a lot of headroom. They buy humongous sport-utility vehicles that practically have cathedral ceilings" (585). Brooks goes on to say, "Small-headroom people tend to have been liberal arts majors and have liberal arts jobs. They get passive aggressive pleasure from demostrating how modest and environmentally sensitive their living containers are. They hate people with SUVs[...}" (585). I can identify with this quote because I mayself am a liberal arts major and I do not like enormously unnecessary cars.

There is a misunderstanding for Blue America individuals that Red America individuals are uneducated people who do not know any better or anything going in the real world, which not true. This article serves to show that though people in Red America have humbler living styles they know what is important and vital to their lives and it works for them. The same goes for Red America's misunderstanding of Blue America, not all Blue Americans have excess money to throw around to buy cars or selfish persons who do not get involved with their community. Blue Americans strive to bring in diversity, encourage self-sufficiency, and are not conventional. "in Montgomery County[...] average house hold income is $100,365 [...]In Franklin County [...] the average is $51,872"(586). I do not completely agree with this data because I consider my family and I to be part of Blue America but my family does not make no where near $100,000. Brooks does not include as much about the middle ground people, which is a critical group because not everything can be as binary as Red and Blue America and at the same time defeats the purpose of his article. The statements Brooks make tend to be hasty generalizations because he is only sampling what he sees within two counties.

Yet the most touching and interesting to see in this article was the fact that when tragedy strikes, all differences are set aside and nearly every American is willing to help their fellow citizen. Such as Brooks mentions with the attacks of 9/11, "the old hostillity came to seem sort of a sibling rivalry, which means nothing when the family is itself is under threat" (587). I found this to be hopeful, however, it is rather depressing that it takes a tragedy time and time again for people to come together. For instance, a similar situation happened a few years ago when a Hurrican Katrina struck all of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Countless volunteers living in near by areas and other states flew in to help with rescue and relief efforts, giving food and shelter to those whose homes were under massacered by the storm. At the end of the day people have come to realize that we are all the same, we all have the same hopes and worries.

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