Geography & its Impact on Opinion

Where we grow up has a huge impact on our lives, whether it be by fashion, opinion, taste, or experience. But have you ever asked yourself how it influenced your politics? 

Growing up in the south can be challenging when you constantly feel like you’re swimming against the tide, but it’s more common than you’d think. 

For a lot of generation z, views are changing. When asking Central High School students, 60% of the 35 interviewed tend to lean more left, while 8.6% of those interviewed tend to lean right. Outliers to that include 5.8% independent with left leaning views, 5.7% communist, and 2.9% democratic socialist. But not all high schoolers are opinionated, 17.4% of those interviewed say they don’t have much of an opinion when it comes to politics. Whether that be it doesn’t interest them or “I don’t lean on anything when it comes to politics preferably because it can cause issues and I just don’t care enough to pay attention.” 

The push of conservative views in the south often leads to more of a resistance from the left,  because as we all know, most of the time when something is pushed onto people, they’ll repel. Growing up in the south as a more left leaning person is a very different experience than conservative. It’s harder to find friends who you feel like you really connect with, a lot of people (even our age range) don’t support things like human rights or equality. Or they tend to stay away or stray from said topics. 

When gathering data, I found that 78.3% of participants were from Knoxville, and 81.2% were from Tennessee. When asked how they would describe common beliefs where they grew up, 27 of 35 people would describe the south being upheld by very right leaning, conservative views. As well as very religious and close minded. As for impact, 17 participants said that they believe that their location has impacted their beliefs, while 5 participants said that the common beliefs around them influenced them to lean more left. 

In an article titled, “How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil”, published by Washington Monthly via July/August 2018, discusses the prejudice often held against the left. The belief of liberal conspiracy is very high in right-wing communities, as they convince themselves liberals are ‘evil’. The left is often seen as ‘enemies of the state’ in the eyes of the right, as leaders like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump have pushed said views. This article implies that the right often push the left so far in that direction they tend to be more progressive.  

As we all know, opinion can influence everything in our lives, including friendships. When asked participants if they let politics influence who they befriend, 15 participants said no, while 14 participants said yes. 5 of those participating say it depends, because if someone doesn’t agree with equality and basic human rights, they won’t be friends with them, which sadly happens a lot more than you’d think. 

Lastly, I’d just encourage us all to be more open as humans, but especially if you live in the south. It’s easy to let harsh views bog you down, even more so when surrounded by them. But at the end of the day, in order to reach true equality, we all have to work together to achieve it. 

A map of the political division found based on geography

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