Currently there are 50 states that are in the Union. So, I have always found it interesting how people generalize when they talk about the “United” States of America. Yes, there is a federal government that imposes a lot of control over the states, but how different are states from one another?
The 10th amendment states (no pun intendent): “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” So obviously the founding fathers new how important state independence is.
Let’s examine how different are all the states from one another really. Well, let’s start with the most obvious thing first: what kind of people live in different states? Well, you would be surprised. After a quick look at the map we can see just how diverse the U.S. in terms of ethnicity is. The north east side of the coast is dominated by people from English, Irish, Italian and French decent. The south east coast is dominated by people from German, African American and American decent. The whole upper part of the Mid West is dominated by people from German decent.
By far the largest ancestral group stretching from coast to coast are Germans – over 49,000,000 people. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Colorado and Oregon are almost all dominated by people with Germanic roots. 14 states are dominated by people with whom the U.S. had two of its bloodiest wars.
Black or African Americans are the next group with 41,000,000 people. Predominantly living in the south of the nation, where they were brought to work on cotton plantation as slaves in the late 18th century. African Americans gained the right to vote by the power of the 15th amendment in 1870, but still struggled after that with their civil rights.
Other groups include people with Iris heritage – 35,000,000; with Mexican ancestral roots – 31,000,000 mostly living in cities as Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and San Antonio.; The next largest grouping of people are those who claim to be English-American – 26,000,000 people. Notable people with English ancestry are Orson Welles and Bill Gates. The most interesting group of people I found are people who claim to be Americans – 19,000,000. There are mostly making a political statement or are uncertain about their direct descendants. Smaller groups of people include: Italian – over 17,000,000, Polish -Just under 10,000,000 and French little over 9,000,000.
All these numbers go to show you that racially discriminating against someone, because they are not “American” is kind of pointless, as most Americans come from diverce backgrounds.
The states are very distinguishable from one another, when it comes to contribution to total GDP as well. The 3 biggest states, contributors to GDP are California ($2.424 Trillion), Texas ($1,648 Trillion) and New York ($1,444 Trillion). Unsurprisingly they are also the 3 most populated states. In the map below you can see just how productive different states are compared to other COUNTRIES.
States contribution to GDP by numbers:
States by population:
There are also political differences between states. A review of the four elections since 2004 shows that most south and mid-western states tend to vote Republican, while the coastal states (especially on the west coast) tend to vote Democrat.
Some groups are also much more represented in the military than others. Teens and young adults from Florida, Georgia or Maine are twice as likely to join the military than their counterparts in North Dakota or Utah. The official answer from the military is that “a soldier’s demographic characteristics are of little importance in the military, which values honor, leadership, self-sacrifice, courage and integrity”. Still, the army seems to recruit people that live in states, where there are larger number of Naval, Marine, army or Air force bases – that seems to be the case with Florida and Georgia.
When it comes to gun culture there is a massive difference as well. The variations you can see on the map below are due to firearm laws, cultural and social norms. Unsurprisingly the most liberal states when it comes to guns are those with high percentage of gun owners. In those states people tend to believe that the second amendment was put there for a reason and that no federal government could have a say in that. The states that oppose the second amendment are California and those on the north-east coast.
There hasve always been rivalries between different states as well. With all the Americans I have talked, when I ask the question “Where are you from?” very few say the U.S. Most of them just say the state or the city they are from. I found this very interesting. There is an inherent pride in being from a certain state. Every state has its different heritage and traditions. People from different states have different accents. So how come when Europeans speak about the U.S. they never really specify witch state they are talking about.
This just goes to show that America as a whole entity doesn’t really exist. There are deep political, cultural, ethnical and financial differences between most of the states.
This is just PART 1 from my examing of the U.S. and different states. In the next days to come I will publish PART 2.