I am from New York City. I attend a university in Ohio.
I love my home in the East, but I grew up in fair contention with the local leftist hysteria. In political discussions at family or social gatherings, one of the common laments was how the enlightened leftists in the East (and on the West coast) were burdened by the overwhelming ignorance and stupidity of those living in "flyover country" or whichever derogatory term they used for the inland regions. I grew up with people who others in the country would call "Northeastern liberal elitists".
I never agreed politically with these types; my father was alone in his social realm in being an old-line New York City capitalist (I don't think they exist anymore) who despised the trendy collectivist idiocy of those around him. I took after him, and I thought that it would be best for me to leave my beloved city and go to school where I wasn't surrounded by these sorts of people. I ended going to the alma mater of my grandfather, and I do like the university a lot.
In the manner that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton may be relieved to see a white person walking behind them on a dark city street instead of a black person, I have come to feel the same way about people in Ohio versus New York. I am really cannot stand it and I feel like an awful person.
People here are just as collectivist as the New York leftists, but they are too stupid to even understand this trait, whereas the altruists here are pretty clear about their intentions. I'll provide some examples I have observed.
- In New York, we enjoy watching the Giants play on a Sunday or the Yankees play against the Red Sox. At the end of the day, however, we understand that it is a sporting event and we get on with our lives and carry on with the business of the day. In Ohio, it's different. In Ohio, there is almost a religious aspect to being, for instance, a Buckeyes fan. In the regional culture, it is socially encouraged behavior to irrationally channel all of your emotion into supporting a collegiate sports team. People are generally jackasses on football days and they all drink really shitty beer and seriously scream and spit and throw cans at people from visiting schools who just wanted to come and watch their football team. It is absolutely disgusting to see how far these people take this childish obsession. The amount of trash that is celebrated as "tradition" is absolutely moronic. But I get it, and what I am about to say hurts, because it's the truth of the situation. If you live in Ohio, or anywhere in the rust belt, and you have no other meaningful culture, you may need this kind of escape from your life when you get old enough to start having doubts about the veracity of your Christian upbringing. It's going to one form of irrationally over-invested collectivist fervor to another. It explains why everyone here makes such a big deal about LeBron James leaving Cleveland and going to Miami. Everyone who can get out of Ohio does get out of Ohio, so his sort of "betrayal" hits a chord with the locals. It isn't any coincidence that all of the "best fans" in professional sports live in cities where there is nothing else to do.
- People here are really simple. My best friends so far are all international or out-of-state students who actually have an awareness of places outside of Ohio and a willingness to engage in conversation not restricted to football or pop culture. Ohioans are really generic in tastes, which is interesting, because for such a jingoistic place as Ohio, there isn't a lot to be proud about. I could understand, for instance, Texans being proud of being from Texas because Texas actually has a vibrant Southwestern culture. In Ohio, the crowning culinary achievement is something called - unsurprisingly - a "Buckeye", which is peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate. Few Ohioans will eat anything other than "American" food, and take a stupid sort of pride in exclaiming "eeww, I'm not going to eat Japanese food!" Eating with them is impossible. They believe Buffalo Wild Wings to be the best (it sucks) and the Olive Garden to be fine Italian dining.
- Everyone is out to destroy Ohio, according to Ohioans. If it's not Michigan, it's those damn New Yorkers and their "Wall Street Values". In the 2010 election, the sentiment of everyone was that these evil bankers in New York were out to destroy them and Ohio needed to go back to "Ohio values". [insert joke about vinyl-clad homes here]. Union organization is a religion here too, but the children of these union workers that I have spoken to (my peers) do not understand how modern union organization and special interests work to destroy the economy and incentives for businesses to locate in states like Ohio with large union support. It's all very aggressive and violent. Yet, these Ohioans who call themselves "real Americans" claim to know what freedom is and love liberty and so forth. They don't.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. As much as I despise the leftists in New York, their criticisms about people in "flyover country" are not ill-founded. They're pretty accurate, most of the time. I feel a superior culture in New York, and Ohioans know this too. When I tell an Ohioan that I am from New York, they say, "Oh, New York! Wow! That's really cool!"
It is really cool, because New York is better than Ohio, and that's the tacit understanding between myself and the person I am speaking to when I say this. They don't even bother telling me where they're from, because I know they have an interest in New York, and I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in Akron or Dayton, and they know this too.
The Northeastern elitist types may love the idea of being social planners, but they don't sly about their intentions. Ohioans claim to be one sort of crazy, mythical, noble breed of "American", but they're not. They cream for Glenn Beck in a flannel top and jeans in a wheat field somewhere talking about "morality". It's all bullshit here.
When I am done with school, I am definitely moving back to the East coast (perhaps New Hampshire; they are much more free and less expensive than New York) and I regret ever having the ridiculous notion that people in the Midwest were ever "my sort of people" and a great "down-to-earth" culture in which to spend my college years.