Changing regional political power in the United States

April 30, 2021

Political power within the United States can be broken down and explained through various layers, ranging from race and class to the grasp that corporations have on Congress. Who exactly has the most political power, and for what specifically, are ever changing concepts depending on the lens that is being used. For decades, political power and political domination in the United States could be attributed to the voices elected to Congress through our system of calculating representation. It is our elections, which we hold so integral to our experiment of democracy, that are able to divide the intangible concept of political power through votes. Consequently, it is the people who supply those votes that are so inherently significant for determining the direction of the country in its legislation and movement towards liberalism or conservatism. 

That being said, due to the electoral formula we use and the electoral system we have in place, northeastern states and the East Coast have had higher numbers of representatives allowed into Congress as a result of historically higher populations. The higher rates of immigrants and urban centers within these states have simultaneously impacted the political culture of the northeast to be more liberal and focused on social and economic advancements. Consequently, due to the conglomeration of this political culture backed up by large populations and high numbers of representatives in Congress, the Democratic party and general alliance with Democratic party ways of thinking has had a stronghold on government and pop culture. Southern and midwestern states, spanning a larger range of territory but with smaller populations, have had their political power much more spread out and are not as loud, consequently impacting their political culture. Southern and midwestern states’ political power stems from their accumulation of allyship and territory as a way to balance the concentrated political power of the northeast. Evidently, the overwhelming support for the Republican party in these states shifts their political culture to be more regionally focused, individualistic and with a stronger emphasis on inner-country nationalism. 

As population trends continue to change with global phenomenon, the political power in this country is about to change within the next few decades. Census estimations for the upcoming 2020 census dictates a shift towards the South and West, thus increasing political power for these states and decreasing political power for the northern states that are experiencing this emigration. This in itself is alarming for the political control the Democrats have on our Congress, as slight losses for them and slight wins for the Republicans means great power shifts in Congress. More significantly, these population changes mean a growing cultural dominance that the South and West will have on American politics as they will, by numbers, dictate what is politically relevant in pop culture. 

Consequently, these population shifts giving more political power to the South and West will undoubtedly have impacts on the direction Congress will take in responding to the acceptance of social and economic advancements that may not be entirely relevant to them. Interestingly enough, however, population trends simultaneously show a greater increase of Latinos constituting a portion of the United States, specifically in the Southwest. This, along with a cultural shift within northern Black and Latino populations favoring southern hotspots such as Atlanta, Houston and Miami, signifies an even greater non-white percentage of southern and western states. Therefore, while population trends indicate a shift towards the South and West, signalling greater political power for these regions, political culture and what will be most dominant is ultimately in the hands of the demographic shifts that are occurring. As we enter into a new age in which Black and brown populations are greater in numbers, more spread out and significantly more politically and culturally powerful, this population shift we see in 2021 will create a new American political scene in which Republican strongholds will be intrinsically and nationally challenged in their gradual rise to power.

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