States with fewest Passports most Opposed to Obamacare

Only about one third of Americans have passports, and if it weren’t for the post- September 11 requirement that one travel to Canada and Mexico on a passport, it would no doubt be an even smaller proportion. (Hence the high number of passports in states with large Latino populations). But take Latinos out of the equation, and which states are cosmopolitan is pretty clear. Lack of experience with the world seems to track pretty closely with strong opinions about how to deal with the rest of the world. It also tracks with socially reactionary views.

passports by state

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7 Responses

  1. Making a conceptual adjustment in this graphic for latinos, what it tends to show is a urban/rural split, reflecting substantial non-latino immigrants in the cities, and/or people with a perspective that is necessarily more worldly. But it also suggests formal education, especially when you think of the NE.

    However you view it, direct interest and experience with a wider world is anathema to bigotry.

  2. Goes with Fox News watchers think we discovered nuke in Iraq.

    Conservatism can only work if people believe the lies.

  3. Hi Juan,

    I visit your site often for its clear analysis, progressive viewpoint, your deep knowledge of the Middle East, and the fact that your blog often covers topics/events that I think won’t get covered in other news sources. So for that, a belated thanks! Though it’s not fair that I take this time to thank you only before criticism, my appreciation is sincere nonetheless.

    This post, however, riled me, and after reading it I became incredulous that this was how you chose to frame these ideas.

    First, you’re making a claim that a relationship exists, possibly with causality implied. Cool. So, I see an independent variable, passport ownership, but no outcome variable, unless it’s the included map. I guess I’m supposed to look at Louisiana up through West Virginia and say, “Yep, those are some pretty reactionary states. I guess lack of travel does lend itself to poor foreign policy decisions” (regardless of the fact that public opinion is more likely to follow the elite on foreign policy than to lead it, and is probably less hawkish than its leaders anyway link to

    I certainly think that travel has an awesome power to educate and open one’s mind, but your argument seems dishonest, implying that these people don’t or chose not to travel and this causes their poor understanding of foreign affairs. There are lots of ways to view it, too, though. Let’s look at education and median incomes in those states. Travel isn’t free and most West Virginians aren’t rolling in it. Also, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that travel abroad increases with level of education (and foreign language knowledge, too). This alone means that Mississippians, where schools aren’t great compared nationally, are already less likely to travel simply because of education.

    Also, your map (which apparently provides both cause and effect given your lack of outcome variable) would suggest that there are more “socially reactionary views” in Oregon than Arizona. Any talk on immigration would see it otherwise. I understand that you are looking at the margins (lightest parts of the map) to prove a point here, but all the more reason to suspect there are multiple causes at work.

    Moreover, you make a very important claim quite casually, accusing chunks of Americans to have “lack of experience with the world” by which you mean exclusively international experience here. That statement right there defines a whole lot of Americans as without experience. I’m grateful for a wonderful share of international travel, but I also consider it to be a de facto privileged experience not easily open to all Americans.

    I’m not saying I don’t see the spirit of truth somewhere behind this post (the relation of education and income to travel), but to me, this is the kind of journalism/commentary I’ve begun to loathe, from the highly deceptive FoxNews to arrogant liberal pundits; A key component of its success depends largely on an audience who already agrees with its views and wants an echo chamber. Your map won’t sway people skeptical of your view, especially from these states. Maybe that’s not the point, and that’s ok, there is something to be said for a community of similarly opinionated/valued people cultivating and developing their ideas together.

    To me, the story I’d rather see here is (sorry for putting words in your mouth), “Look, passport concentration in America is highly unequal. I think international experience contributes to informed, enlightened, and yes- cosmopolitan- beliefs and better policy ideas, so why don’t more Americans travel outside the country?” That really gets at some interesting issues about the heterogeneity of American values, beliefs, and experiences. What I read on your post was, “These states are behind the times and don’t know anything about the rest of the world— it’s no wonder they make stupid foreign policy.” Not a real interesting or incisive statement.

    I look forward to your future postings.
    – Michael H

    • But you know, those states may be the way they are as a result of the intentional design of 20 generations of oligarchic elites. The Southern states were most opposed, besides the most famous issue, to public education, female suffrage, and the GI Bill. There’s a brutal and refreshingly honest War Nerd column where he points out that the US made progress on several domestic fronts during the Civil War because the Southern congressmen were no longer there to block reform. War Nerd didn’t even mention the Homestead Act.

      Problem is, the oligarchic brainwashing took, and now ordinary people think that their political dogma is an infallible tradition mandated by God, and the rest of the world is Satanic. You can actually see the resistance of the poor Scots-Irish to the agenda of the plantation elite erode from century to century. Ironically, the new elite, the German auto execs who came to Alabama to exploit union-hating proles, are now victims of the xenophobic laws and cops created by this culture.

  4. Juan, I live in Vermont, and many many people here feel as if we are an occupied state. Border patrol authority extends 100 miles from the border. Vermont is only a little longer than that. That means almost all of Vermont falls under their jurisdiction, and subject to their suspicions. We’ve always sort of regarded the border to be about 100 miles wide, but in a different way: it was amorphous for so long in our history that there was a big zone that people regarded as belonging to both countries, even after the line was finally drawn. Towns, houses, roads on the border, people who speak both English and French. Families on both sides. Our capitol, many of our northern towns, even our state has a French name. We passed freely back and forth. It’s part of our heritage. Now we have to choose, and we have to have a piece of paper to cross. Bienvenue a Vermont. Maybe we should become an independent republic again, and make INS move the border south.

  5. International travel isn’t free, but public schooling is and libraries are, so that greatly diminishes the excuse factor for lacking experience with the world.
    Also those that have the luxury and the time committed to worldly travel as genuine travellers as opposed to just being tourists, may well gain from that prospective of being in the position to form socially reactionary views.

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