Stephen O’Malley


Posted: Nov 5, 2004

Empty space voted for Bush -- that's interesting. Bonnie (my wife, for those of you who I don't know but am nonetheless polluting your mailboxes) suggested that people who live in close quarters with others have found it necessary and good to be tolerant and get along with one another. Perhaps they have also learned that their happiness and well being depends in some part on the happiness and well being of their neighbors. Strangely, I think those were supposed to be the small town values that people are seeking when they flee the cities to move to rural or gated suburban areas, aren't they?

I spent some time in Hong Kong back in 2000 when I was working for a company that is based there. Talk about crowded! There is absolutely no room for all of those people to drive, so they mostly travel by walking and taking the MTR train system. Sidewalks are typically full from storefront to curb, and the trains are standing room only, but everything moves.

During my six weeks there, I commuted to work in the same manner, about 40-60 minutes round trip each day. What struck me about that city was how everyone seemed to move harmoniously, as though there was some mass physical consciousness that caused them to move in an efficient concert of motion. It's not that they are more polite -- step in front of an oncoming taxi and you'll get two beeps of the horn but no brake lights. And it's not that everyone moves along at the same pace -- there are old people with carts of stuff, and confused tourists (like me), and delivery trucks with boxes stacked on the sidewalk, and people in a big hurry, and people in no apparent hurry at all. And yet it all works. I think that years of conditioning in those crowded conditions have taught people that it is in their most selfish self interest to get along with everyone and everything around them, and that's the way to get ahead in their world.

So that's one of the reasons why I think the blue votes were in the most populous areas, and the red votes were in the empty spaces.

On the otherhand, paraphrasing Jon Stewart, people with boats voted blue and the landlubbers voted red.