Retro America’s commonalities are religiosity; social conservatism; an economic base of extraction industries, agriculture, nondurable goods manufacturing, military installations; and a commitment to the Republican Party.
The current Retro America is geographically defined as an alliance of contiguous regions—the South, its anchor, and the Prairie and Rocky Mountain states. Retro America represents “Old America” with a traditional economy, high levels of social and economic class disparities, and political power firmly based in Caucasian communities.
Retro America is large in geographic expanse but relatively small in population. Its 25 states encompass 66 percent of the land mass and 35 percent of the population, with a population density of 42 persons per square mile. Politically, Retro America, with 35 percent of the population, has 50 U.S. senators—half of the Senate.
On the Retro side of the cultural divide are those who, in response to their conservative religious beliefs, are pro-life and support prayer in the schools, the display of Christian symbols in public facilities, and publicly funded religious social services. The Republicans who represent them in Congress vote for constitutional amendments to ban flag burning, declare the U.S. a Christian nation, allow tax-exempt religious organizations (but not other nonprofits) to engage in partisan politics, and favor limitations on the First Amendment to combat speech and symbols they perceive as pornographic or unpatriotic. Retro representatives support subsidies to oil, mining and agriculture, but they are opposed to women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, affirmative action, welfare, organized labor, and taxes of any kind.
These are “God, Family, and Flag” folks politically dominated by rural, conservative, white, Fundamentalist Christian populations. Retro America is not the land of co-habiting, unmarried, hetero, or same-sex couples, or of the young seeking cultural excitement in the large Metro cities.
The Republicans have carved out Retro America as their base and are using the dangers of terrorism and permanent war to try to create a new national unity and a new national party.
Metro American states are loosely held together by common interests in promoting economic modernity and by shared cultural values marked by religious moderation; vibrant popular cultures; a tolerance of differences of class, ethnicity, tastes, and sexual orientation; and a tendency to vote Democratic.
Metro America is not geographically contiguous—New England, the Middle Atlantic, the Great Lakes states, and the West Coast, plus Colorado and Arizona. Metro America represents “New America,” with the New Economy and political power more equitably distributed among ethnic groups.
Metro America, with 34 percent of the land mass, has 65 percent of the population, with a density of 151 persons per square mile. Metro America produces the majority of the nation’s tax revenue, but some $200 billion a year of Metro taxes flow to Retro states and support the economic life of its small cities, towns, and rural areas.
On the Metro side of the cultural divide are religious moderates and seculars, Democrats, and moderate Republicans who are committed to excellence in education and science, who want the arts to flourish; who are accepting of differences in ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation; and who want a clear division between church and state. These moderates are in favor of women’s, gay, and workers’ rights. Their congressional representatives support affirmative action, public education, childcare, and other services needed by working parents, as well as progressive taxation. They oppose tax cuts for the wealthy that undercut progressive taxation, and they oppose subsidies and tax shelters favoring industry, especially the oil and extraction industries.
Metro America values inclusion, respects science and social discourse, and promotes policies designed to provide physical, economic and social security for all families, both the 20 percent of the “old traditional families” and the 80 percent of the “new traditional families.” If America is ever to be a true United States, it must embrace these Metro values of inclusion and respect.