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The End of the Southern Democrats

The Deep South has a long history, stretching back to before the Civil War, of Democratic politics. Being a Democrat was not just a preference; it was tradition. In recent decades, beginning in the 1960s with Barry Goldwater, the South has shifted towards the Republican Party in presidential elections. Over time, congressional seats and governors mansions have also slowly moved over to the GOP. However, at the local and most of the state levels, most offices remained affiliated with the Democratic Party. They are considered "old-school" (or "Blue Dog") Democrats who embraced FDR (and, often, JFK and LBJ) as their standard-bearer, rejected Jimmy Carter, fell in love with Reagan, and warmed up a bit to Clinton.

Within the past decade--and particularly within the past couple of years--support for the Democratic Party in the Deep South has almost vanished. What few Democrats that actually managed to win in the mid-terms have started switching sides, claiming that the Democratic Party has strayed too far from them. In the party that has often touted itself for having a "big tent" of diverse people and opinions, "you really can't be a conservative" anymore. Since November, dozens of state legislators have left the Democratic Party, sometimes switching majorities in the legislatures--- Louisiana Republicans now have a state House majority for the first time since Reconstruction. Even last week, the final remaining Democrat holding a state office in Louisiana, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, defected. This near-total realignment of southern politics, fifty years in the making, will have tremendous ramifications as many of the states begin to combat the growing size of the federal government. 
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Discussions - 3 Comments

Somewhat ironically, the South is the last great bastion of Americanism (that combination of uniquely American traditions and beliefs that distinguishes us from the rest of the West). This is one of the major reasons that it is so reviled in the media and in our broader culture -- backward, bigoted, ignorant and stubborn. Of course, this was the way it was viewed before the Civil War -- the North (and now the coastal West) has always been convinced of its own superiority in morality and material means, and to maintain that arrogance you need an "other" to compare yourself to.

It's high time that Southerns ditched the party that has been making war on its own culture for lo these many decades. Good for them!

"...the North (and now the coastal West) has always been convinced of its own superiority in morality and material means, and to maintain that arrogance you need an "other" to compare yourself to..."

I think you have it the other way around. You heard little from the North about being superior to the South in the lead up to the Civil War with the notable exception of the issue of slavery (and that being the focus of abolitionists, not the majority of the population) - as the North industrialized and absorbed tens of thousands of immigrants they had plenty of other things to worry about.

However, in contemporary newspapers, letters, and speeches, the vast majority of the disparaging remarks which condemned the South as inferior to the North were focused on slavery. On the other hand, Southern newspapers were filled with pieces stating the Southern man's natural superiority to his Northern peers and the North's plotting to undo their delightful way of life.

I agree with you concerning the virtues of the South such as they are, but concerning the end of Southern Democrats, I think that unnatural union lasted as long as it did only because individuals couldn't seem to get over the Civil War.

As for the Civil War, it was a lot to get over. And they are not so different than other peoples who have seen their ambitions for independence squashed.

And I believe you are wrong about Northern attitudes toward the South before the Civil War. They were viewed then the way they are viewed today -- as a weird mix of gentility and barefoot savage ignorance. Indeed, slavery was at the center of the negativity, but it certainly wasn't restricted to criticisms concerning that institution. I don't have time this morning to cite chapter and verse on this, but perhaps later.

The main point is, however, that the South is the bulwark of America today. Given the way the South has been ridiculed over the last several decades, I find it ironic that they are the last best hope for American renewal.

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