Lane: Does your home state affect your values?

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Lane: Does your home state affect your values?

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Joe Lane
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“The bromance is over,” said Donald Trump following the Jan. 15 Republican presidential debate. Trump’s declaration refers to his once-amicable relationship with fellow poll-leader Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who staged an attack on “New York Values” during the debate.

As the New York Times put it, “Asked to define the term, Sen. Cruz offered a sweeping generalization for 8.5 million city dwellers.”

Cruz’s explanation to which the article refers: “Everybody understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage and focus on money and the media.”

Trump quickly retorted. He said, in an admittedly unrelated note, that no city in the world could have handled the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as well as New York City. That elicited cheers throughout the audience, including applause from Cruz himself.

Cruz may have been referring only to political beliefs when he called out “New York Values,” but the comment raised the question of whether a hometown really can affect one’s values — political or otherwise.

Growing up in the Midwest, I learned that “Midwestern values” often include “hard-working,” “driven,” and “humble.” From a young age, Midwesterners are taught that these values are held in high regard and will prove beneficial later in life. Now we’re told they are valued by employers — most likely a benefit to which our elders referred.

And although the quickest and most vocal responses to Cruz’s comments were criticisms about sweeping generalizations, there may be some truth to what Cruz was saying.

The Iowa caucuses are now fewer than two weeks away, yet for the layperson to venture a guess at who will be victorious at this point, in either party, would be foolish. While polls across the country have consistently had Trump in the lead, many pundits believe Trump’s chances of winning the nomination, let alone the Iowa caucuses, are slim.

But Trump doesn’t really stand a chance, according to 538, a popular website run by the well-respect statistician Nate Silver, who correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the 2012 presidential election. Silver’s website has Cruz with a 50 percent chance of winning the caucuses and Trump at 29 percent.

Silver’s success in the 2012 election was based largely on statistical analysis for each state, analysis that arose, at least partially, from trends in voting and polls. Such trends arise in states because of shared values among those living in the states. It’s why some states are considered “blue,” while others are considered “red.”

So Trump’s swift rebuttal to Cruz’s comments probably made New Yorkers smile, just as I smile when I read an article talking about how people from the Midwest are great at something. But the problem is Cruz’s comments were actually grounded in some truth. According to a Washington Post article published last year, New York has consistently ranked in the top 10 most-Democratic states for the past nine years, based on a Gallup Poll that measured party allegiance in each state.

Cruz calling into question “New York Values” was designed to undermine Trump as a legitimate Republican candidate, not disparage the citizens of New York. But in doing so, Cruz alienated the Republicans in the state of New York, taking a presumably calculated risk.

I happen to agree with Cruz that values can be affected by where you grew up or where you choose to live, but, of course, I’m proud of the Midwestern values with which my upbringing is associated.

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