Daniel Elazar provided the first classification of states according to distinct political cultures. Elazar concluded that states could be separated according to religious and ethnic backgrounds and migration patterns. Political culture is rarely clearcut according to him; attitudes change over time. Most states have characteristics that reflect more than one political culture. Political culture reflects sectionalism, or regional patterns, rather than distinct cultural divisions.
Elazar goes on to say that “In the individualistic culture, the emphasis is on marketplace values, the triumph of private concerns over community interests. Politics is perceived as another form of professional business activity.” He claims the judges are well salaried and that the government serves “as referee among many competing individual interests, not implementing any broad policy of the public good.” As a result litigation rates in individualistic cultures will be relatively higher than in traditionalistic or moralistic.
Individualistic states believe government should make individuals richer, making their own decisions not impeded by government action on society morals. Office holders ought to be paid to act professional and there are higher levels of corruption. Louisiana is the best individualistic state example, where a strong belief exists that all politicians are crooks, so elect the most efficient crook.
Moralistic states have higher voter turn out, are small d democratic, have merit based systems, and are more likely to be an innovator. The south or individualistic states tend to change the least and are behind in policy making in comparison.
Utah is a one party state because the LDS
church is predominately Republican and Utha is predominately Mormon. In turn, the Republicans control the senate. Republicans dominate as a result and democrats don’t spend money or campaign in Utah because they can’t win. Moralistic states, with a high degree of political competition, have the highest rates of political participation. “Government is not left to the professional politician; instead it is the duty of every citizen. Government intervention is expected for the sake of the public good.” (Elazar) Moralistic states provide more opportunities for citizens input than traditionalistic or individualistic states. Politics and government are considered good in a moralistic state. They believe it advances society as a whole. Wisconsin is moralistic, settled by Scandinavia and Germans. Although moralistic states have more inter party competition, moralistic states have more unity.
Traditionalistic states have the opposite result. “If there is any correlation between "internal unity" and independent state constitutional interpretation, it may be in states with 'distinctly judicial sources" of internal unity of purpose and 'moralistic' political cultures rather than 'individualistic' or 'traditionalist' cultures.” (Lawrence Schlam, DePaul Law Review)
Traditionalistic political culture causes “Ambivalent attitudes toward the marketplace combined with a paternalistic and elitist conception of the commonwealth.” (Elazar) The government then is very hierarchal. It isn’t surprising the oldest states in the union are the traditionalists.
Political culture can be geographically separated as well (for the most part):
- West -- moralistic
- South -- individualistic
- East -- traditionalistic
Political Culture is a good predictor of a particular states' policy making habits, both their past and future reforms.