A (Mostly) Solid Republican South, At Least For Now

The GOP is dominant in the Southern United States, but it's unlikely to last as long as Democratic dominance of the region did.

Southern US Map

After last Tuesday’s elections, the South is more solidly Republican than it has ever been, and only seems likely to become more red in the future:

With the walloping Republicans gave Democrats in the midterm elections, the GOP stands one Louisiana Senate runoff away from completely controlling Southern politics from the Carolinas to Texas. Only a handful of Democrats hold statewide office in the rest of the Old Confederacy.

The results put Southern Republicans at the forefront in Washington – from Senate Majority Leader-in-waiting Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to a host of new committee chairmen. Those leaders and the rank-and-file behind them will set the Capitol Hill agenda and continue molding the GOP’s identity heading into 2016.

In statehouses, consolidated Republican power affords the opportunity to advance conservative causes from charter schools and private school vouchers to expanding the tax breaks and incentive programs that define Republican economic policy. The outcome also assures that much of the South, at least for now, will remain steadfast in its refusal to participate in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

“I think these new leaders can help drive the conservative movement” at all levels, said Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere, echoing the celebrations of Republican leaders and activists across the region. “We just want a government that doesn’t suppress people.”

Republicans widely have acknowledged that the party now has to prove it can govern. But one-party rule invariably means internal squabbles. Republican White House hopefuls in particular must court Southern Republicans who are more strident than the wider electorate on issues ranging from immigration to abortion and the broader debate over the government’s role – and how to pay for it.

“The Republican presidential nomination will run through the South,” said Ferrel Guillory, a Southern politics expert based at the University of North Carolina. “As Mitt Romney found (in 2012), that … makes it harder to build a national coalition once you are the nominee.”

Even with the South’s established Republican bent, Tuesday’s vote yielded a stark outcome. Besides McConnell’s wide margin, Republicans knocked off North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor. In Louisiana, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is the heavy favorite to defeat Sen. Mary Landrieu in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Republicans reclaimed the governor’s mansion in Arkansas and held an open Senate seat in Georgia that Democrats targeted aggressively.

In January, the GOP will control every governor’s office, two U.S. Senate seats, nearly every majority-white congressional district and both state legislative chambers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. Landrieu and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson are the only officials keeping their states from the list. At the northern periphery of the South, Kentucky’s Legislature remains divided, and Democratic governors in Kentucky and West Virginia are in their final terms.

In Washington, Senate Republicans haven’t parceled out leadership assignments, but Southerners figure prominently among would-be major committee chairmen: Mississippi’s Thad Cochran (Appropriations); Alabama’s Jeff Sessions (Budget) and Richard Shelby of Alabama (Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs); Bob Corker of Tennessee (Foreign Relations); Richard Burr of North Carolina (Intelligence); Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions); Johnny Isakson of Georgia (Veterans Affairs).

In the House, Georgia Rep. Tom Price could end up chairing the Budget Committee. Louisiana’s Steve Scalise already won a promotion to majority whip, Republicans’ No. 3 post in the chamber. Georgia’s Rob Woodall chairs the Republican Study Committee, the GOP’s arch-conservative arm.

As a preliminary matter, it’s important to define what we mean by “the South.” The Census Bureau defines it as the States of the Confederacy, plus Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C. West Virginia, and Oklahoma. Today, the idea that Maryland or Delaware are part of what we think of as “the South” would likely seem odd to most Americans, as would the inclusion of Washington, D.C. or even West Virginia. Technically, all of these states are part of the historic “South” because they are south of the Mason-Dixon Line, which is at the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Culturally and politically, though, the idea that these parts of the country are “southern” seems strange, and even the inclusion of Virginia as a “southern” state sometimes seems odd if you judge the state as a whole by Northern Virginia and the growing influence that region has on the politics of the state as a whole. For purposes of this post, though, let’s presume that the “South” consists solely of the states of the Confederacy, plus Kentucky, which stayed in the Union, and Oklahoma, which remained a territory largely under the control of the Union throughout the Civil War. When you look at the South in this matter, Republican dominance is clear, even though there are some exceptions that suggest that it may not last for long.

Much of this, of course, is the culmination of a process that began more than 40 years ago when Republicans consciously began to appeal to conservative, white, Democrats in the South as way to counter the rising Democratic power bases in the urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest. At the Presidential level, it provided to be a quick success. Unlike 1960 and 1968, 1972 saw President Nixon win every state of the old Confederacy, although the fact that this happened in the midst of a nationwide landslide made possible in part by the disarray in the Democratic Party that put George McGovern on the top of the ticket obviously contributed to what happened. Democrats pushed back in 1976 and won most of the South by selecting a nominee from a southern state, and showed similar success in winning southern states when they did the same thing in 1992 and 1996. The elections of 1980, 1984, and 1988, however, showed quite clearly that Republicans were consolidating their control over the South after a long period of Democratic control that was only briefly interrupted in the wake of the Civil War by Reconstruction Era politics that allowed newly freed slaves to vote. By 2000, Republican control of the Presidential level seemed  to be largely assured and, except for victories by President Obama in Virginia (which in many ways is becoming less of a “southern” state than it used to be) in 2008 and 2012, North Carolina in 2008 by a narrow margin, and Florida in 2008 and 2012, that part of the country has been solidly red for Republican candidates for President ever since, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, putting at least 133 Electoral Votes, and potentially an additional 42 from Florida and Virginia, which will arguably be more in play in the future with President not on the ballot, in that column as well.

The better indicator of the GOP rise in the South, though, can be seen below the Presidential level. As noted above, at the moment there are only two Democratic members of the Senate representing states south of Virginia, Ben Nelson in Florida and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, with Landrieu seeming likely to lose her runoff election on December 6th. At the Congressional level, Republicans dominate the Congressional delegations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In many if not all cases, the Democratic Members of Congress in these states are minorities who represent districts that have been drawn to comply with the Voting Rights Act and Justice Department guidelines to ensure at least one “majority minority” district in each of these states. Digging deeper, as noted, Republicans have even further solidified their control over Governor’s Mansions and state legislatures, although there remain many holdouts there where Democrats are holding on, one notable case being Kentucky where Democrats continue to be strong at the state level even though the GOP dominates at the Congressional, Senate, and Presidential levels.

As a general rule, though, we have now reached the point where the South, once the center of the Democratic Party’s power base, is now serving a similar role for the Republican Party. Much like it did for Democrats, this control of the South has noticeable effects on the GOP as a whole, pushing the party to the right in a variety of political and cultural ways that may not necessarily be helping it nationwide. It is, after all, the south that is the major source for the social conservatism that defines the GOP, and arguably also a heavy influence on the GOP’s position on foreign policy thanks in large part to a culture that can fairly be described as very pro-military. Especially on social issues, the south remains very different from other parts of the country, especially the Northeast and Pacific West, and the influence that southern dominance on the Republican Party has in that area is a rather obvious anchor on efforts to grow the party in these parts of the country. Additionally, the GOP’s continued need to adhere to a Southern, white, conservative constituency makes reaching out to minority groups and the young without being seen as abandoning the party platform quite difficult indeed. Eventually, Democrats found that their own dominance in the South hard to reconcile with the growing power of minority and younger voters in the Northeast, Midwest, and elsewhere inside the party. Fissures in that regard began to show up as early as 1948 when Strom Thurmond led delegates from most of the South out of the Democratic Convention and ran on an independent “Dixiecrat” ticket that nearly denied President Truman re-election by winning some 39 Electoral Votes even though he only captured 1.1 million popular votes. At some point, one wonders if something similar could happen to the GOP.

That last question, of course, is the interesting one, because it’s unclear just how long the GOP’s dominance in the South will last. Virginia is already a purple state thanks in large part to the fact that population shifts have led to the dominance of Northern Virginia as a political force in the state that tends to push it in a less conservative direction. Florida is also a state that is arguably on the bubble thanks to the same migration from the north and the rise of a Latino population that, for now at least, remains largely Democratic. Many anticipate that Georgia and North Carolina will soon join Florida and Virginia on the list of purple states in the south for largely the same reasons, although the last two election cycles in both of those states suggest that it will be some time before that happens. Between them, those four states account for 73 Electoral Votes and losing them as a reliable base in a Presidential election would be a serious problem for the GOP going forward. Some more optimistic Democrats, meanwhile, dream of the day when Texas and its 38 Electoral votes will be realistically up for grab for Democrats, who have not won the state since Jimmy Carter ran for President in 1976 but that seems like something that’s unlikely to happen for quite some time to come. In any case, though, while the GOP has achieved something historic in the manner in which it has turned the South, which had been a sea of blue in American politics since before the Civil War, into the base of the party that was formed in no small part to resist the very institution that defined the ante bellum South. It seems unlikely, though, that this dominance is going to last nearly as long as Democratic dominance in the region did.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Campaign 2016, Congress, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Technical correction: Mason-Dixon is Maryland-Pennsylvania birder, not Maryland-Virginia.

  2. @SKI:

    Gah. Typo. I should know better than to proofread before caffeine.

  3. stonetools says:

    Very good description of how the South is solid for the Republican Pary -and how it affects the Republican Party.
    i do find it interesting that Doug doesn’t try to explain in detail WHY the South turned solid Republican from solid Democratic.

    Much of this, of course, is the culmination of a process that began more than 40 years ago when Republicans consciously began to appeal to conservative, white, Democrats in the South as way to counter the rising Democratic power bases in the urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest.

    That sentence elides what was a deliberate appeal to Southern white racism.It’s a somewhat delicate way to describe the “Southern strategy” carried out by Nixon, Reagan, Atwater , amnd pothers. But hey, Doug does notice it, unlike folks over at the National Review and Pajamas Media, who pretend it never existed.

    Meanwhile as far as Presidential politics is concerned, the Democrats must consider Thomas Schaller’s book “Whistling Past Dixie”. The blurb:

    Two generations ago Kevin Phillips challenged Republicans to envision a southern-based national majority. In Whistling Past Dixie, Tom Schaller issues an equally transformative challenge to Democrats: Build a winning coalition outside the South.

    The South is no longer the “swing” region in American politics — it has swung to the Republicans. Most of the South is beyond the Democrats’ reach, and what remains is moving steadily into the Republican column. The twin effects of race and religion produce a socially conservative, electorally hostile environment for most Democratic candidates. What’s wrong with Kansas is even more wrong in the South, where cultural issues matter most to voters.

    Yet far too many politicians and pundits still subscribe to the idea that Democrats must recapture the South. This southern nostalgia goes beyond sentimentality: It is a dangerously self-destructive form of political myopia which, uncorrected, will only relegate the Democrats to minority-party status for a generation. The notion that Democrats should pin their hopes for revival on the tail of a southern donkey is no less absurd than witnessing the children’s variant of the party game, for both involve desperate attempts to hit elusive targets while wandering around blindfolded.

    Meanwhile, political attitudes and demographic changes in other parts of the country are more favorable to Democratic messages and messengers. The Midwest and Southwest are the nation’s most competitive regions. There are opportunities to expand Democratic margins in the Mountain red states while consolidating control over the reliably blue northeastern and Pacific coast states. Before dreaming of fortynine-state presidential landslides like those of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the Democrats ought to first figure out how to win twenty-nine states. And that means capturing Arizona — or even Alaska — before targeting Alabama.

  4. Pinky says:

    @stonetools: What that sentence also conspicuously avoids is mention of the Vietnam War. While the South had been gradually shifting toward the GOP, it was the combination of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement that fully alienated the South from the Democrats.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: The Southern Strategy worked because of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, of which LBJ is claimed to have said, “There goes the South for a generation.” Turns out he was optimistic.

  6. Pinky says:

    This article plays into a false narrative, that of the Republican Party as a regional party. I know that’s not what it says, but it seems to me that highlighting the power of the GOP in the South implicitly undersells its gains elsewhere. A few years back, at the Republican low tide, we heard talk about it becoming a regional party. It’s worth stating formally that there’s no sign of that happening.

    This is a good presentation of what I’m talking about. A party can do ok if it controls the Idaho-Ohio-Florida-Arizona “region”. Add a little red on that map for governors and senators, and you’ve got a party that can win in just about every state.

  7. Barry says:

    @Pinky: ” While the South had been gradually shifting toward the GOP, it was the combination of the civil rights movement and he anti-war movement that fully alienated the South from the Democrats.”

    That process had been well underway by the Vietnam War. It was civil rights, first, last and always.

  8. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    The Republicans are clearly more than a regional party. But they are strong outside the South for the same reason they are strong inside the South-appeal to white, older, conservative whites, who are worried about being “flooded” by immigrants and who are concerned about maintaining their privileged status against, and losing resources to, minorities. Those attitudes are just much more concentrated and virulent in the South.
    In any case, the strength of the Republicans is that they can take the South for granted, and focus resources on competing in the Midwest and Mountain States, wheras the Democrats can’t take even the Northeast for granted.

  9. humanoid.panda says:

    @stonetools: “In any case, the strength of the Republicans is that they can take the South for granted, and focus resources on competing in the Midwest and Mountain States, wheras the Democrats can’t take even the Northeast for granted.”

    This applies to midterms only though. In presidential years, NC and Florida and possibly Georgia are swing states, and VA has a slight Democratic Lean, while the Dems have the Pacific West and all of New England besides NH locked, as well as Illinois and Minnesota.

    The problem for the dems is really that the vast majority of states elect their governors in midterm year. Unless the midterm-presidential splitoff is an Obama era aberration, they have a serious problem on their hands..

  10. Pinky says:

    @humanoid.panda: We’re suddenly taking the GOP midterms / Dem presidentials as gospel? Eight years ago was a completely different pattern. Eight years before that, the pattern was more like today, but not exactly. All of our iron laws of politics are proven wrong within a few cycles.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    File this story under, “Just In Case You Forgot”

    The Civil Rights movement and subsequent passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in 1964 and 1965 made it official, white Southern voters were migrating to the Republican Party. Nixon openly ran on a Southern Strategy – working white people found a home in the Republican Party. It’s been that way since 1968. It is a kind of bloodless de-facto secession of the South.

  12. Pinky says:

    @Barry: “First, last, and always”? No. First was the emergence of the better-educated urban Southerner, who voted Republican. Last was the hippies burning draft cards. Always was the Southerners not liking Northerners telling them what to do. (I’m not denying the role that the civil rights movement played in all this, but it wasn’t the way you think.)

  13. michael reynolds says:

    I think I can settle the question of whether the GOP is just a regional party: No, they are the party of the scared, the vicious, the racist, the sexist, the paranoid, the stupid, the greedy and the completely unhinged wherever those people happen to be. Just so happens there are more in the south and the mountain west

  14. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    First was the emergence of the better-educated urban Southerner, who voted Republican

    “Educated” does not mean “less racist”. just mean that they can dress it up better.

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “N1gger, n1gger, n1gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n1gger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N1gger, n1gger.”

  15. JKB says:

    Of course, Republican dominance won’t last as long. They don’t have a para-military arm set up to keep the populace in line.

    Once the Klan was broken and it was safe to vote how you really felt, the Democrats fell into decline quite quickly.

  16. Kylopod says:

    It should be noted that the South had been the Democratic Party’s most conservative wing for at least a couple of decades before the 1960s, and it wasn’t just over civil-rights issues, but on most economic issues as well. Forgive me for reprinting what I wrote a few weeks ago on this matter:

    It’s true that Southern Democrats were part of the original New Deal coalition, but from the late 1930s onward they were recognized as the most conservative segment of the party. In Congress they tended to ally themselves with Republicans on most domestic issues, in what came to be called the Conservative Coalition:

    While the South had many New Deal supporters it also had many conservatives opposed to the expansion of federal power…. U.S. Senator Josiah Bailey (D-NC) released a “Conservative Manifesto” in December 1937, which included several statements of conservative philosophical tenets, including the line “Give enterprise a chance, and I will give you the guarantees of a happy and prosperous America.” The document called for a balanced federal budget, state’s rights, and an end to labor union violence and coercion. Over 100,000 copies were distributed and it marked a turning point in terms of congressional support for New Deal legislation…. In the hard-fought 1938 congressional elections, the Republicans scored major gains in both houses, picking up six Senate seats and 80 House seats. Thereafter the conservative Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress would often vote together on major economic issues, thus defeating many proposals by liberal Democrats.

    In the ’40s it wasn’t just Truman’s civil-rights plank that Southern Dems opposed; they also backed Taft-Hartley and were instrumental in the defeat of his national health-care initiative. When Southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms defected to the GOP, it wasn’t because they had grown more conservative but because they found a home in the GOP for views that had previously been associated with the Democratic Party’s conservative wing. In fact, the departure of the South from the Democratic Party was a big part of what created the modern notion that the party is the country’s liberal party. Up until the 1970s, the Dems were largely seen as ideologically and demographically incoherent–that was the real meaning behind Will Rogers’ famous quip “I belong to no organized political party, I’m a Democrat.”

  17. gVOR08 says:

    It’s fair to look at the Republicans as a regional party, although I usually broaden the region and refer to it as the Confederate and Cowboy states. But it seems to be really more of an urban/rural split. The Confederate and Cowboy states being less urban. Politically, downstate IL, upstate NY, eastern OH, etc. are basically Kentucky.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    the anti-war movement played a role in the loss of the South, but a smaller role. And I believe it had less to do with being for or against the war than the beginnings of the culture war. Nixon ran against hippies. The GOPs still run against hippies, even though few exist and none are running.

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Always was the Southerners not liking Northerners telling them what to do.

    That’s so true. Pushy Notherners, telling the Southerners you can’t keep human beings as slaves, you can’t discriminate against African-Americans with Jim Crow laws, you can’t lynch people, you can’t engage in domestic terrorism, you can’t stop blacks from voting, you can’t murder union organizers, you can’t prevent blacks and whites from marrying…I mean, geez! Whatever happened to the Southerner’s god-given right to kidnap, torture, murder, oppress and discriminate against those weaker than him?!?!

  20. wr says:

    @Pinky: “Always was the Southerners not liking Northerners telling them what to do.”

    Don’t claim you can own other human beings.

    Don’t believe you can rape or murder anyone you like as long as they have a different skin color.

    Don’t establish a completely separate system of justice — and education and government — for people you don’t like.

    Yes, those poor put-upon Southerners, always being told what to do by uppity Yankees. My heart bleeds for them.

  21. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: Oops — beat me to it!

  22. stonetools says:

    @gVOR08:

    It’s fair to look at the Republicans as a regional party, although I usually broaden the region and refer to it as the Confederate and Cowboy states.

    I like that formulation. In his book “American Nations”, Goeffrey Ward expands the South to include Appalachia-the area of Scots-Irish settlement- and wherever the Appalachians went. A lot went into those Cowboy states and shaped the culture there. The Cowboy states are culturally the Southern States without the black lower caste-although Mexicans and Native Americans are to a certain extent substitutes.

  23. superdestroyer says:

    If one wants to gain some prespective on the problems that the Democrats have in the South, just look up the minority leaders of the state legislatures in those states. In several of those states, the Democratic Party is the party of minorities. Any white person who votes to put Democrats into power is voting to put blacks or Latinos into power. And if there is one group that has shown zero interest in appealing to middle class or blue collar whites, it is black Democrats.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Kylopod:

    It’s true that Southern Democrats were part of the original New Deal coalition, but from the late 1930s onward they were recognized as the most conservative segment of the party

    Great post. I would add though that one reason Southerners began to pull out of the New Deal coalition was precisely because FDR and later Democrats turned against white supremacy and began to insist on civil rights and equal participation for blacks in government programs. All of a sudden, Southerners began to turn against federal infrastructure programs and public investments. I won’t link to it, but there is a heck of a lot of that stuff out there attacking blacks for living off white tax dollars , disguised as talk about “limited government” and “Southern rights.”

  25. stonetools says:

    Please free my redone comment from moderation. Thanks.

  26. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “Any white person who votes to put Democrats into power is voting to put blacks or Latinos into power”

    And no real white person would ever subject himself to the rule of these mongrel races, right Stormfront Junior?

    You’re usually much better at keeping the true vileness of your racism in check.

  27. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    The real question is why would middle class and blue collar whites vote to put a group of politicains in office who have demonsrated zero interest in appealing to the concerns of middle clas or blue collar whites. When Artur Davis tries to move to the middle in Alabama, he was taken to task by black Democrats.

    You cannot propose reparations, forced busing, and separate and unequal employment and admission standards while ask for the votes of people who will negatively impacted by the those policy proposals.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:
    So, have you now officially changed position? Because I seem to recall roughly 4 BILLION comments you’ve written claiming that this is a one-party state and the GOP is completely irrelevant.

    Do you now repudiate your earlier, incessantly-repeated position?

  29. superdestroyer says:

    No,

    What the Democrats hope to do is change the demographics enough that blue collar and middle class private sector employed white no longer matter to elections. As many pundits and wonks have pointed out, it black and Latino turnout had been as high in 2014 as it was in 2012, then the Democrats would have held on to more seats.

    Eventually the Democrats are going to decide that winning more elections is important that they will cause them to break up the majority-minority districts to try to elect more Democrats instead of electing black Democrats with 80% plus of a districts vote.

    There is nothing in the 2014 election results that mean that all of the demographic trends are going to change in the U.S.

  30. Gustopher says:

    The last time the Republicans had this level of control in the Confederacy was during the Reconstruction.

    Flash forward 150 years, and it’s pretty clear that the South’s reconstruction of the Republican Party was a lot more successful than the Republican’s reconstruction of the South.

  31. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Kicking down the GOP again.. Don’t you have a book to write?

    You know, it does seems strange that when Michael Grant can’t cut the pressures of writing, he comes to this site to pick fights with Republicans. It does seem odd that you would want to alienate people who might buy your books. I guess the people you refer to as” scared, the vicious, the racist, the sexist, the paranoid, the stupid, the greedy and the completely unhinged wherever those people happen to be” do not buy your books. If you ask me, its not exactly the best way to market yourself and grow your readership.

  32. wr says:

    @Will: And I bet he really appreciates your totally sincere career advice!

    Honestly, if he’s too smart for you to have a conversation with, just walk away.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Will:

    Dude. “can’t cut the pressures of writing”? Really? I’m one of the most prolific authors in the English language. I stopped counting at 150 books. I make no secret of my politics, in fact I used to write my own political blog. Writers tend to be liberals, as do most “creatives.” Open mind, imagination, intelligence, empathy, an ability to read. . . they lead naturally to liberalism.

    The guy I consider a bit of a mentor (and who likes my stuff) Stephen King is also quite a flaming liberal. It seems he can multi-task, too. And it doesn’t seem to have hurt either his productivity or his popularity.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools:

    I would add though that one reason Southerners began to pull out of the New Deal coalition was precisely because FDR and later Democrats turned against white supremacy and began to insist on civil rights and equal participation for blacks in government programs.

    Some days I think that this country is pretty evenly divided between conservative and liberal beliefs, and that the group that tips the balance is the racists. Appeal to the racists, get them voting for your party for a couple of decades, and then you can get your policies through.

    The thought of Superdestroyer being the kingmaker in American politics just makes me sad.

    The weak victories the Republicans got this time around give me a bit of hope. Sure, they won a lot of those weak victories, and things will suck for a bit, but the conservatives and the racists are barely 50% these days.

  35. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I respect the fact that you are a successful writer. I truly do. You worked hard and you deserve all the accolades. I’m just trying to understand why you are on here so much. I do find it very interesting and its like ripping Republicans is some kind of therapy for you. I know a lot of the others like Clavin are just unemployed or retired, but you intrigue me.

    btw,I don’t even like this website or the Redskins, but I’ll occasionally keep coming back just for you. Thanks for the entertainment.

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Will:

    Okay, to tell you the truth, I care more about politics than I do about “literature.” Politics matters. Writing is my job, and like anyone at work, I sometimes waste time.

    Writing here is a sort of palette cleanser. I’ll drop in when I’m shifting from working on, say, a re-write to working on a first draft or to doing publicity-related stuff or playing with a script. Sometimes it’s between scenes – sometimes I get tired and want a break. Other times I’ve been interrupted and it’s hard to dive right back in, so I’ll screw around online for a while.

    This morning I ran a final pass on some copy-editing, now I’m doing a rewrite and fact-check on a manuscript. If I have the energy later I’ll work on some notes for a spec script I’m playing with. (“Playing” becauseI’m not a script writer. If I eventually get paid, then it’ll be “work.”)

    At the moment the sky is gray and as usual that means I’m having a hard time motivating myself to work. I’m basically solar-powered with a caffeine booster.

    Are you an aspiring writer?

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Will:

    I guess the people you refer to as” scared, the vicious, the racist, the sexist, the paranoid, the stupid, the greedy and the completely unhinged wherever those people happen to be” do not buy your books. If you ask me, its not exactly the best way to market yourself and grow your readership.

    Seriously, you expect writers – outside Jerome Corsi’s world – to expand their readership base by marketing books to people who are:

    “scared, the vicious, the racist, the sexist, the paranoid, the stupid, the greedy and the completely unhinged wherever those people happen to be” ?

    Why?

  38. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    You know that certain commenters here are unemployed? How do you know this?

  39. Tyrell says:

    The southern wing of the Democratic party is still fairly strong in local areas. Around here there hasn’t been a Republican elected probably since Reconstruction. In the early 70’s the national Democratic party was taken over by extreme elements as witnessed in the disastrous McGovern presidential campaign. McGovern was an honorable person and served outstandingly in World War II, but his campaign was taken over by radicals. In some years the national party has gone back to common sense: Csrter and Clinton. One of the mistakes was sending federal people down here back in the ’60’s interfering in the states’ business and treating the southern people like some conquered country. That hurt the Democratic party for a long time in the south. Some day the Democratic party will return to their strength in the south, like it was under Johnson, Ervin, Connally, Russell, Hollings, Nunn, Fulbright, and Mills. A time of outstanding southern leadership.

  40. superdestroyer says:

    @Tyrell:

    I doubt that people like former Senators Ervin or Fulbright are going to be in office in the future. Remember, for a Democrat to win office in the south, they are going to come to power in local political parties that are dominated by blacks (and eventually Latinos). Those voters are not going to support the likes of former conservative Democrats who were elected in the 1960’s.

    Image a sharp white kids at Ole Miss who wants to be a Democrat but soon realizes that supporting the Democratic Party just means putting someone like Tyrone Ellis bio in the governor’s mansion. What is the point of getting involved in politics to do that? Wouldn’t it be easier to just move to some other place (say Oregon, Washington, Vermont, or Minnesota where white liberals can get elected.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    That is an utterly bizarre, false and frankly racist interpretation of what happened in the south in the 60’s.

    The federal government became involved because white cops who were often Klansmen were refusing to enforce the law, covering up murders, participating in murders, and violating the basic Constitutional rights of American citizens.

    The south deserved infinitely harsher treatment than it got. From 1882 to 1968 there were 299 lynchings of blacks in Alabama, 492 in Georgia, 335 in Louisiana and 539 in Mississippi. And those are the conservative numbers — they don’t include beatings, whippings, castrations or other forms of mutilation. Nor do they include shooting, burnings or drownings. For example, there were only 40 lynchings in Oklahoma, but in Tulsa alone, in a single year, whites burned down dozens of square blocks of black homes and businesses and murdered 300 men, women and children, including machine-gunning black civilians from airplanes.

    So stick that Confederate bullsh!t right up your ignorant rear end.

  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    One of the mistakes was sending federal people down here back in the ’60’s interfering in the states’ business and treating the southern people like some conquered country. That hurt the Democratic party for a long time in the south.

    Luckily for Southern Whites, the Republican Party becamed a safe haven for those who wanted the South to be able to forcibly segregate their institutions and openly deny equal voting rights to Black Americans.

  43. Kylopod says:

    @stonetools:

    I would add though that one reason Southerners began to pull out of the New Deal coalition was precisely because FDR and later Democrats turned against white supremacy and began to insist on civil rights and equal participation for blacks in government programs.

    It’s very hard to separate the economic views of white Southerners from their racial views. Social Security was originally designed to exclude as many blacks as possible without overtly saying so. One of the main reasons Southern Dems opposed national health care was because they feared it would lead to integrated hospitals. (Talk about a one-track mind!) To them, “big government” was a code word for helping those others, while in practice they favored government when they perceived that it helped the white middle class. One can deny that this racial conservatism is really a form of conservatism–but it has remained alive to this day and is a major part of the engine of today’s GOP. It explains a lot about how the Republican coalition functions. For example, one of the reasons Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme in 2005 failed was because it proved incredibly unpopular everywhere in the country, including the Deep South. Bobby Jindal’s approval ratings sank to dangerously low levels after he tried to implement a Heritage-endorsed plan to replace income taxes with a regressive sales tax. White Southern conservatives don’t see a contradiction. They know that “welfare” and “food stamps” means big government, while “border patrol” doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. Whether as Dixiecrats or as Republicans, they have embraced a conservatism that makes perfect sense to themselves, once you understand what the words really mean.

  44. Bob Lee says:

    “Today, the idea that Maryland or Delaware are part of what we think of as “the South” would likely seem odd to most Americans, as would the inclusion of Washington, D.C. or even West Virginia. ”
    Social geography really isn’t a subject for polling. Should we ask the Texas Tech students, who didn’t know who won the Civil War or who the Vice President is? Or the college students in the CNN survey a few years ago, half of whom couldn’t find Ohio or New York on a map?

    Do you even know the source of the map you used at the lead of this story? Probably not, so I will tell you. It originates in Howard W. Odum’s “Southern Regions of the United States”, published in 1936. His was the first quantitative analysis of the south, a groundbreaking study which heavily influenced the government and educational institutions. The resulting map of his studies was labeled “Rank of States Based on Twenty-three Cultural Tables”, and right between Kentucky and Virginia sat West Virginia. But he arbitrarily took West Virginia out of the map of the south. Why? Well, according to a biography “Odum imbibed southern patriotism from his grandfathers” who were Confederate veterans. And West Virginia? Many of the Lost Cause southrons considered West Virginia a traitor state, and Odum did not want West Virginia as part of his “south”. Recent studies have shown that actually West Virginia was more supportive of the Confederacy than Kentucky and a major portion of the state had voted to secede from the Union. But Odum left Kentucky in and West Virginia out. His map has perpetuated and replicated in a thousand different ways, a Lost Causer’s pique disguised as social science.

    In “Southern Cultures” Christopher Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts, both social geographers, published “Rethinking the Boundaries of the South”, and their findings placed Virginia, Oklahoma and West Virginia in the south. So does the Southeastern division of the Association of American Geographers, as well as the Geological Society of America.
    These are the people I trust, not Surveymonkey, whose “poll” you featured on this website back in April.

  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The south deserved infinitely harsher treatment than it got.

    I have been saying for years that the South — culturally, politically, economically, demographically – is essentially a different country. Not a region that is a tad different – a different country. It has been from the beginning, and it is likely to remain so.

    That doesn’t make it bad, but it does make it incompatible. It’s not always a popular position to take, but I have been convinced for a long time now that the best and most productive path for us to have taken in the Civil War would have been to have wished the Confederacy well and rid ourselves of a perpetual problem. We’d be better off, and they would be better off.

    Instead, we essentially have the same problem we’ve had since the outset – a reactionary region populated with bombthrowers who see no problem with just burning the whole thing down if they don’t get their way. You can’t compromise with, or indeed even work with, people like that. You can only mitigate them or defeat them.

    Or rid yourself of them.

    The next time that some loon like Perry pops up with “we’ll secede”, we should respond with “Absolutely. It’s about damn time. Please do so with all haste, and let us know if you need any help packing.”

  46. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Now there’s a fair minded, adult comment if I’ve ever seen one. Who needs more Charles Rangels when you’ve got enlightening analysis like that right here?

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    What’s that, your 100th content-free comment? There should be a prize.

  48. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: ” We’d be better off, and they would be better off.”

    Yes, everyone would be better off if only the South had been able to split off and keep an economy based on slavery. Absolutely everyone.

    Hmm, I keep thinking we’re leaving one group of people out of that equation. Can’t imagine who it could be.

  49. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael, Thank you for sharing your writing process. I am an aspiring writer of short stories that have mostly dark themes. i find that i get my best ideas when I’m about to go to sleep when a number of ideas and thoughts come rushing through. I’m still a relative notice, but hoping to complete a few stories in the next few months.

  50. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    Because it would be quite difficult to hold a full time job especially in the private sector when you are posting all day on this board…

    btw, You sure do take offense at everything don’t you? You need to enjoy life more and not take everything so seriously. Stop pouncing on people who disagree with you. It’s like you need affirmation from folks here that you are right.

  51. Will says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Why, do you feel the need to respond?? This was directed at Michael and he responded. You don’t need to jump into every conversation to feel special..

  52. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: You’re reminding me of the comment someone once made to me “writing a book is 10% writing and 90% editing.”

    A lot of people can do writing–it’s knowing how to tighten, clean up, streamline, and “kill your darlings”. Which is why self-publishing produces so few blockbusters.

  53. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    Because it would be quite difficult to hold a full time job especially in the private sector when you are posting all day on this board…

    Well, there are these things called offices and cubicles, which give a person some privacy. Then there are these things called smartphones, which allow one to follow a blog and comment outside of a corporate network. BYOD – look it up.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I’m a good first draft guy but kind of suck at editing. By that point I’m bored because I’ve already figured out and told the story. Telling the story is fun, fixing it not so much. But I’m told I turn in a very clean ms as a rule so I guess I get it done eventually.

  55. michael reynolds says:

    @Will:
    I assumed I knew how to write short stories until a friend asked me to contribute to an anthology she was editing. Turns out, nope, not good with the short form.

  56. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael, can you recommend any good writing books? I’d be grateful for any advice. I believe I’m pretty good with coming up ideas and dialogue, but sometimes get bogged down with structure. Much thanks!

  57. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    I’m all about productivity in the workplace. We’re mostly fascists here but its worked out well for us. Business is very good and our younger employees know not to waste time on FB, Twitter, IM. etc while they are here. If you do well here and know how to manage your time, you can do whatever you want.

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @Will:

    @al-Ameda:
    Why, do you feel the need to respond?? This was directed at Michael and he responded. You don’t need to jump into every conversation to feel special..

    Why did you feel the need to respond? See how that works?
    Do I somehow feel ‘special’ if I ask you a question? No, it certainly does not seem like a special occasion to ask you a question.

  59. grumpy realist says:

    @Will: There are two books that I’ve seen recommended by friends of mine that write:

    “Writing Down the Bones”

    Also if you’re doing science fiction run, do not walk, to get Melissa Scott’s book on writing SF. Called something like “Imagining the Heavens”

    The other thing to figure out structure is read a LOT of the type of stuff you want to write. Read the excellent stuff, read the mediocre stuff, read the lousy stuff. Take notes after you’ve gone through each chapter. How did it make you feel? Did you feel breathless? Was it a drag? Go through the entire book this way. And then go back and start analyzing it line by line. How did the writer make the impression he did? Was it first voice or 3rd voice? How were adjectives used? How short were the sentences? What worked? And what DIDN’T work?

    (The major thing I’ve noticed about plotting is that it rarely works. You think you have a plot set out, and then the characters hit you over the head and insist on doing their own thing. Follow them. It may not end up as the story you thought you would be writing, but at least you’ve got live characters, rather than puppets you’re moving around.)

  60. michael reynolds says:

    @Will:
    Honestly I’ve never read a book on writing or taken a class. But I skimmed Stephen King’s book – he knows one or two things about writing. And I’ve heard lots of good stuff about Bird By Bird by Ann Lamott. My wife likes her and my wife’s a much more literary writer than I.

  61. anjin-san says:

    Not a huge fan of short stories, but Checkov blows me away, “Easter Eve” in particular.

  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Industrialization of agriculture would have killed slavery of its own accord soon enough. While I agree that the prospect of leaving the slaves in the South to wait for that to happen, instead of fighting a war to end it, seems disagreeable, is the perpetual state of dysfunction we now have in this country any less disagreeable?

    It seems to me to be accepting a temporary evil in order to avoid a permanent one.

    As I said, it’s not a popular opinion, but then again I’m a pragmatist and I’ve never cared much about garnering the approval of others.

  63. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Will: That’s not inspiration, that’s a sleep disorder. Check it out.