Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mississippi On The Great Lakes

Many of you (a few) know that until mid-Oct I lived in Northeast Oregon, and then moved to Northern Michigan - Petoskey, to be exact.  For those of you not from here and know something about geography the title N MI may confuse you with that big old chunk of Michigan north of here also known as the UP - Upper Peninsula.  OK, so here's the deal - this place is socio-economically... divided is a polite word.  The Mitten (you get that, right?) is split up into the urban South, the farmlandish central and the lake splattered wooded cooler north of tourism/summer residency.  You can get to the UP from the rest of Michigan by boat or The Bridge.  The UP was timber and mining, now more toursim but it is sparcely populated and heavily wooded.  Frankly it is a socio/economic-geopolitical nightmare.  My political pals from Oregon will recognize a bit of this stuff, but here it is really a mess and you can drill even deeper down by noting that the western part is... conservative/farmland.

As you might guess, the more rural the area the more GOPer infested it is.  I know my friends from E OR would consider the area I'm in something other than rural considering how many people there are here per square mile but there simply are a bunch of quite small towns.  Petoskey is the big town in the area with a population of about 6300 (year around - triple in "the season").

I'm enough of a foreigner that I can't do real specific political analysis, but frankly the urban part of the state is pretty fractured politically.  This state was hit hard in a socio-economic sense by urban flight and a bit after that the collapse of manufacturing.  The Michigan that was such a driver in Unionism and progressive policies hasn't existed for some time. Charlie Pierce has taken to referring to this place as Michissippi, which I'd have used in the title other than not liking to do complete rip-offs.

I could go into the post-WWII influx of southerners and particularly the rise in black employment as some of the drivers of  what is going on here.  If you're not particularly aware, while the Unions were  busy being a part of the vanguard of social progressivism a good sized chunk of the rank and file were busy voting GOPer dogwhistling, fag bashing, and hippie kicking... and fleeing to the suburbs.  Yup, in a lot of ways this place is a lot more Mississippi than it is what you've thought of as Michigan.  If you gave me a choice between living here and shit on a stick I'm afraid I'd opt for the stick but for a pretty good reason I'm stuck here.  It looks as though the only path to some sort of peace of mind is to learn to ignore the doings of my betters and just not care.

yeah, right.

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