I’m always grateful when someone who speaks for and from a place I don’t know all that intimately uses American Nations to explain local identity, a sign that I’ve not totally misread the place and its cultural legacy. It’s happened with Omaha World-Herald staff columnist Erin Grace (discussing the city of my great-grandfather’s birth’s Midland character); The Oregonian associate editor David Sarasohn (accepting the Left Coast/Far West split of his state, though he’d swap a couple counties); with Iowa historian Richard Doak in the Des Moines Register and Cleveland Plain Dealer staff columnist Robert Higgs on the Western Reserve; with staffers from Oregon’s Willamette Week, Cincinnati Magazine, Chicago Magazine, and the Alabama Political Reporter, among others. (Love you all for doing it.)
Recently Edmonton Journal staff columnist David Staples chimed in from across the border, using American Nations to explain and defend Alberta’s political and cultural “deviance” from central and eastern Canadian norms. The reason (of course) is that its Far Western. “It’s…no surprise that the least approving outsiders are in B.C. and the Maritimes,” Staples writes. “Their cultures arise from a vastly different root than our own [as they] have strong links to northeastern United States, which was colonized by puritanical Calvinist English settlers and has as its own sacred value, the goal of creating a utopian society based on religions and community-decision making. This group, now zealously proselytizing its Woke views worldwide, has never been a big fan of more individualistic and libertarian ways of being. Little wonder many of them look down on Alberta’s “work hard, play hard” ethos.”
Not surprising Albertans feel exasperated. In the Canadian federation, the Far Western section is the only one devoted to individual liberty over the common good, which has got to be frustrating for them, rolled up as they are with Yankee, Left Coast, Midland, First Nation and New France sections, all strongly communitarian. In the U.S. they’d have plenty of allies in the Deep South and Greater Appalachia — enough to dominate federal politics at least half the time in fact.