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Regionalism: United we stand?

The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:02

For the past two centuries, federal politics has largely been a struggle between two shifting coalitions, one led by Yankeedom, the other by the Deep South. In recent decades, neither has been able to build a bloc large enough to control the levers of federal power on its own, which has made the great "swing nation" of the Midlands the kingmaker in our presidential contests. Midlander culture shares the Yankee emphasis on the common good, but is also deeply skeptical of government, wishing it to leave their communities in peace.

This has made its people ambivalent - and, thus, up for grabs - in the epic battles between the superpowers to their north and south. It's no accident that most of the great battleground states have a great swath of Midland territory, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri. Win over Midlanders and you're likely to win a presidential contest; scare them with extreme positions to the left or right, and you most certainly will not.

Despite all this, our Balkanized federation has survived and, yes, thrived. But it has not done so because of shared fealty to a single American creed or a set of common principles held by our Founders, be they the 17th-century or 18th-century variety. Rather, it is because our leaders have brokered - and sometimes enforced - compromises between our disparate founding cultures. If we're to succeed going forward, our representatives in the federal capital - from the president on down - will need to re-learn this dying art.

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(c) 2012, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

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