Tankersley's story perfectly captures the political reality that the last few months -- hell, the last few years -- in Washington have made plain: There really are two political Americas. Neither understand each other very well and there's little chance they will get to know one another any better because they don't a) live in the same places b) watch the same TV shows or movies c) buy the same cars or d) read the same newspapers, watch the same news or read the same blogs (or any blogs at all).
The two political Americas explains why many people in Washington during the government shutdown simply couldn't understand how these four dozen or so House Republicans could not be made to understand that what they were doing was doomed to fail. Here's why: Because for their constituents -- the people they were elected to represent and on whom their future employment depends -- they were fighting the right fight, no matter whether or not they could win it.
Check out this terrific slide from the Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, a lobbying shop in D.C., that paints a striking picture of the two political Americas:
The simple fact is that there is almost no overlap -- culturally, politically, economically, socially and virtually every other word ending in "ly" -- between the districts represented by Republicans in Congress and those held by Democrats. If the two sides often seem like they are talking to two totally different electorates on every issue, it's because they are.