On the first map, I'm in Madison Lake, and in the second, I'm on an island they didn't bother to label with a name. Madison Island, I presume.
The text around these elaborate maps begins: "For many Americans, it feels as if the 2016 election split the country in two. To visualize this, we took the election results and created two new imaginary nations by slicing the country along the sharp divide between Republican and Democratic Americas."
Well, that's not how it feels in Madison. The 2016 election didn't do that to us. We've been proudly envisioning Madison as its own special island since at least 1978, when the Republican Lee S. Dreyfus, running for governor, called Madison "30 square miles surrounded by reality.” Dreyfus, who won, didn't mean it as a compliment, but Madsonians loved the phrase, and in 2013, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin proposed it as the city's official motto — with a slight update — "77 Square Miles Surrounded by Reality."
“It’s a statement about who we are,” he said.It almost became the official motto, failing in the City Council by a vote of 10-9. Some people thought it might be perceived as an insult, but Soglin and many others thought it was quite positive in a self-deprecating, hip way.
The decision will probably take a series of meetings, Soglin said, seemingly half joking and half serious.
“This is Madison.”
In January 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker used the familiar Wisconsin phrase in a jab at Washington DC:
"For a lot of folks here in our nation's capital in Washington it's kind of a dome.... In fact, I like to call it 68 square miles surrounded by reality.... What I see in the states and from people in this country outside of Washington is a craving for something new, something fresh, something dynamic, instead of the top-down, government-knows-best approach that we’ve seen in Washington."I don't think Walker was imagining Trump as the way the people would satisfy that craving for "something fresh, something dynamic," but you can see in Walker's words a description of "this country" that corresponds to the NYT's first map, the one with 80% of the landmass. We here in Madison had long taken ourselves out of that mass. We were happy and willing to locate ourselves outside of reality. The NYT can portray us as a big lake, but that would never be our self-image, because we are a city of full of lakes. We saw ourselves as not even here at all, unreal.
That's what I've lived around for the last 3 decades. But, you know, there were still 23% of us in this county (Dane County) who voted for Donald Trump. And I bet there are few counties that were more skewed than that. So lefties and righties do live together. You have to choose to want to think of America as 2 countries. You can choose unreal if it suits your post-election freakout needs. It's a free country. A country called the United States.