I've been thinking a lot about what divides us. I like to think in geographical terms. Specifically, I think in maps.
(Statistics from here)
This is a map showing which party is dominant in what towns, and by what percentage. Towns where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a higher percentage are a deeper blue, where Republicans outnumber Democrats is a deeper red, and so on.
I found some surprises. For example, Democrats dominate in Stafford. Also, a full fifth of the state's minor party members live in Norwalk. Who knew? But for the most part, the map shows what we knew already. Republicans dominate in the west. Democrats dominate the Connecticut Valley and the east. You can start to discern voting patterns, to a degree. The presidential map from 2004 bore a passing resemblance to this one.
Of course, what the map doesn't show is Connecticut's huge wild card: independents. They outnumber the members of the dominant party in every town but 19 (there are more Democrats than independents in Berlin, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Derby, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Stamford and Union; and more Republicans than independents in Darien, Greenwich, Hartland, Morris, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Weston and Wilton). Independents dominate in every congressional district, and in every county.
What the map also doesn't show is the great variation within the parties themselves. The primary between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman showed that the Democrats who dominate Naugatuck are very different from those who dominate Cornwall. The Republicans of Greenwich are not the same sort as the Republicans who dwell in Ledyard. The independents of Hartford are a far cry from those in Darien or Somers.
Party divides us. Except, of course, that it doesn't--not really. Party means different things depending on where you are. I don't buy that we need to be partisan all the time. We have too much in common. We can be smarter than that.