Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Advice to Democrats: Stigmatize the South

According
to this NEW REPUBLIC article, studies now show that the Republicans have been reduced to a regional party that is primarily and increasingly animated by white racism. Democrats should be less reluctant to trumpet this fact and label Republican southerners as obstructionists impeding our nation’s progress. A decent party can’t carry the South, and it shouldn’t want to try. Instead, the way to victory is to mobilize the rest of the country against the recalcitrant region. (It goes without saying that I don’t agree with this advice, but it’s worth discussing.)

Discussions - 17 Comments

Mr. Lawler, I agree with you completely. You are frying my liberal commenting circuits!

The analysis is partially correct from their standpoint. The South has always been the bastion of conservatism and tradition in this nation, standing in the way of liberal progress. That is why it must be vilified and demonized. We have seen this dynamic before, have we not?


If you favor liberal progress, the South is a "problem." If you favor the maintenance of tradition against the destructive forces of progress, then the South is the final bulwark. So what represents the problem (traditional Southerners or progressive Yanks) is all in the eyes of the beholder.


Funny thing is that conservatives used to recognize and admire this about the South. Even Northern conservatives (Kirk). Now a certain brand of conservative is as vocal in its denunciations of the South as are any liberals. (The reaction to Trent Lott for example.)


Could it be because what some of us conservatives have been saying all along is correct? That brand of conservative is not conservative at all.


Perhaps my forefathers were correct in their assessment that ours was/is not a "natural Union" and should be peacefully severed.


What I have never understood is if we are such awful, horrible people why would you not be better off letting us go. Instead you send an Army (a real Army in Lincoln’s day and a legion of historical revisionists, demagogues, “educators,” transplants, and various other popularizes of the “myth”) down here to try to make us into a mirror image of the morally pure Yankee.


Sadly, we are losing ground, but as this article shows, we have not yet been defeated. And as long as I have breath, you ain’t gunna defeat me.

Let’s hope they do just that.

Peter - Do you have views of the AJPS study the article cites?

I am a great admirer of the South, Mr. Phillips, but let us not forget that there was/is no shortage of so-called Southern Revisionists who were equally dedicated to demonizing the North and its heroes. And for the record, I agree with Dain. I would love to see the Democrats villify the South and see them try to win a presidential election.

I have asked my student asst. to find it and wll let you know, Steve. Certainly the questions quoted as indices of racism in the article don’t give confidence.

"I am a great admirer of the South, Mr. Phillips, but let us not forget that there was/is no shortage of so-called Southern Revisionists who were equally dedicated to demonizing the North and its heroes."


Andrew, I absolutely agree. If you followed the monster threads on Lincoln a couple of weeks ago, that ground was well covered. Modern Southern Revisionists who try to paint the South as a bastion of multicultural bliss, while the North was full of vile hypocritical racists are cherry picking facts as well. Some derisively call them "rainbow Confederates." They serve a purpose of pointing out Yankee hypocrisy, but the point I try to make is that both sides rejected modern egalitarian dogma because it is a historically recent phenomenon.


But pointing that out messes up the nice little historical narrative the Lincoln brigades have fabricated.


Dr. Lawler, I would be very skeptical of any kind of "indices of racism," unless we can agree on a nonpolitical definition of the term. If the index of racism was someone uttering "I hate all Black people," then OK. But if it is attending a largely segregated school, I would object. That people seek segregated schools is a demonstrable fact. If you make that an "indices of racism" then everyone who has ever "white flighted" is a racist.

What are they going to stigmatize the South as nowadays? Suburban-living, SUV-driving, latte-sipping, McDonald’s-eating, and WalMart-shopping Americans just like everyone else?

From a coldly Machiavellian standpoint, this may make sense for the Democrats. Stigmatization and demonization have worked very well for them, and it’s not hard when you control the entertainment multiplex, the schools and the (significant) media. Republicans need to point out that this is a war not only on the South, but on all Americans who have anything in common with the South, which is to say, all conservatives.

Mother of mercy, Mr. Frisk!


...this may make sense for the Democrats. Stigmatization and demonization have worked very well for them, and it’s not hard when you control the entertainment multiplex, the schools and the (significant) media.

So how exactly are you against demonizing?

I don’t say that all Democrats demonize. I say that demonization has served their party well. Would you really care to dispute that?

I have read this AJPS article. It is less than meets the eye. Its indicies of "racism" are largely center around the idea of how much blacks themselves are to blame for their condition and how much the government should help. Note that the questions do not ask about, say, Hispanics, now the largest minority in the nation, or about minorities in general.

Let me postulate a hypothesis. In South Dakota, where I am from, most people don’t think much about the state of black America, namely because there are so few African Americans who live here. Thus there is very little anti-black racism. But there are a lot of Native Americans here, and there sure are a lot of opinions (reasonable and unreasonable) about that minority. In my opinion, what Sears and Valentino show is that Southern whites think a lot about black America and it influences how they vote. I hardly find that remarkable given that to this day a disproportionate number of African-Americans live in the South. There is no need to try to hide the fact that there is anti-black racism in the South, and where it exists it is generally on the right, but let us not make more of this study than is there.

On a more political point, do we really want one of our major parties to gain success by demonizing a substantial geographic region of the nation? That might be electorally smart but it is truly awful statesmanship.

Sorry for the long comment.

"What are they going to stigmatize the South as nowadays? Suburban-living, SUV-driving, latte-sipping, McDonald’s-eating, and WalMart-shopping Americans just like everyone else?"


Unfortunately Tony that is all too true. Although, I will point out that "suburbanization" in the South and everywhere else is an obvious attempt to re-segregate. So was community enhanced by legally mandating the end of formal segregation? Our once bustling downtowns might suggest otherwise. In cities where the inner city and inner suburbs are "gentrifying" they are not gentrifying with couples with school age kids, unless they move there knowing they will be sending their kids to private school.


I love pointing out how the real world way that people actually live their lives directly contradicts their professed embrace of equality.

Calm down, folks. This is just overreaching. I remember in 2000 and 2004, people were talking about the "end of the Democratic Party." That was BS...any thoughtful person would have smoked it out pretty quickly. Now, after 2006, it’s the end of the GOP as a national party...same tune, different stanza.

Most Americans are squishy middle-of-the-roaders. They weren’t happy with the way things are, so they voted for "the other party." The worm will turn again, and again, and again. The GOP is a regional power at the moment, but that won’t last (unless they continue to allow vast immigration, in which case "game over").

I don’t say that all Democrats demonize. I say that demonization has served their party well. Would you really care to dispute that?

I won’t dispute that demonization has been an effective technique for Dhimmocrats or Rethuglicans. So the question comes down to who does it more? Seems about equal to me.

However, I will dispute "I don’t say that all Democrats demonize." I invite anyone to reread comment #9 in full context and tell me where you qualified that statement.

If the Democrats write off the south, what are the state legislatures of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina (all controlled by the Democrats) supposed to do? The governors of Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia would be in a similar predicament. (Though polls suggest the voters of Louisiana are planning to alleviate one of those governor’s predicament for her.)

I highly doubt anyone in the Democratic Party is listening to Rick Perlstein. His advice do Democrats in 2004 was to demand that all other candidates withdraw from the primaries and let Howard Dean have the nomination.

His book on the Goldwater campaign was great, though.

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