I would like to begin by thanking my opponent and the Fighters of ATS for all that they do in this forum! It is always an honor to engage in these
debates. So thank you all.
Is New York The Most Influential State?
In order to address this question one has to step back and ask themselves just what the word "influence" truly means. There are so many nuanced
interpretations, both good and bad, that can be inferred from this single word.
a cultural phenomenon? If so then an argument can be made that many other places might well qualify as "most influential".
Historically Philadelphia factors into our early history as much, or more than New York - as well as the fact that Virginia seemed to be the real
political hotbed for a large portion of our formative history. Later, as our nation began westward expansion, one might argue that there was more of a
cultural influence from west to east, than from east to west. Later still, and into our own age - well if there is a cultural Mecca to be named,
surely it would be Hollywood and not NYC. While it is true that NYC once held the title of most culturally influential, I think that the torch has now
been passed west, a product of our nations expansion.
If we think of influence
as a measure of power and wealth then my job becomes a bit more difficult, but not impossible. While NYC is home to
the banking industry, the stock market, and a myriad of businesses, it is Silicon Valley, in California, where one might argue that real innovation
lay. Silicon Valley is certainly where the most
billionaires choose to reside.
One might also look to the states the states of Texas and Alaska, both oil rich and influential in their own
ways... Alaska increasingly so with each passing year. Where, once, NYC was the home of the money, increasingly one might suggest that it serves only
as a temporary conduit these days - where money from elsewhere passes through as it journeys to the farther points on the globe.
Where NYC might well have an advantage of influence is in perception. The perception of people the world over. New York City is the American Paris,
London, Beijing, and Moscow... it is the one city, I believe, that most people, from an international point of view, will imagine when they hear the
words "United States of America". Even as a lifelong citizen of this great country, if I close my eyes and try to manifest images that I feel to be
patriotic, most of the pictures that my mind produces are inherent to NYC. Lady LIberty, The Twin Towers, The Empire State Building... all
quintessential American icons. For the record, since I am a bit of a rebel, I must also throw CBGB's into this mix. What could possibly be more
American than an underground club where so much great American music came into being? Yet, even as I find myself wanting to yield on this particular
point in the argument, my instincts kick in and I find myself having to accept that one of the major reasons that these iconic American images are
burned so fully into my psyche is because... well...
Because Hollywood planned it that way.
This leaves me having to split my vote between NYC and California. It also leaves California in the lead by my scorecard.
A brief foray into history is required to understand why NYC became such a central fixture in the worlds psyche. The answer to that is relatively
simple. NYC was the port of choice for those wishing to come to the US in the days previous to air travel. Lady Liberty famously said
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
and then she watched
as those who heeded her call filtered through Ellis Island
- in her very shadow... and into NYC. Thus NYC always
held a special place in the hearts and minds of those immigrating to our great nation. It was their first taste of the USA - and for many, their
permanent home. They needed look no further as they'd found their freedom with their first steps upon our soil.
This is a powerful thing to be sure. But can we think of sentiment as influence? A question worth asking.
This is also why NYC became a major business center. As the port of first call it was just convenient to those with International interests - to
banks, manufacturers, and speculators.
With the advent of modern travel and communications, however, this advantage has been completely nullified.
Looking at all that I have researched and read in preparation for this debate, I am left with a single conclusion. For a period of time, certainly NYC
was the center of American business and, therefore, influence in this country. But all modern indicators lead me to a single conclusion...
California, between Hollywood and the SF area have taken the title in the modern world.