E Pluribus Unum points to a Salon piece in which Bill Maher says:

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has a powerful argument in his bid to be the Democratic nominee when he says, “What I give people is a candidate who can win everywhere in America.”

Translation: “We Southerners ain’t gonna vote for no Yankee! You suckers up North will take our Clintons and Carters, but we just ain’t buyin’ Kerrys and Deans.”

And that’s a shame. Not just for Democrats but for democracy itself. And I feel bad for the millions of intelligent people who live in a region still dominated by so much prejudice that anyone who wants to be president better have a twang in his voice and pronounce all four E’s in the word “shit.”

Now, first off, there are only two E’s in that word. (Lewis Grizzard used to say, “You know how hard it is for a Southerner to say Shi’ite?”) Second, this isn’t about regionalism but values. Let’s review recent presidential elections. Southerners voted for:

  • Californian Richard Nixon three times.
  • Georgian Jimmy Carter once–but not twice.
  • Californian (by the way of Illinois) Ronald Reagan, twice.
  • Washingtonian (via Texas via Connecticut) George H.W. Bush twice.
  • Kansan Bob Dole.
  • Texan George W. Bush (going on) twice.

Now, granted, Southern candidates (especially if you include Texas, a bone of contention) have been Democrats’ best hope. But it’s because Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton could talk to Southerners without talking down to them and because they were comfortable talking about religious issues.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    Is Maher so stupid he doesn’t understand why that annoys people from the south?

    And tell us, Bill… is what you’re describing not what the Civil rights warlords have been engaging in for years, and plactaed by Democrats over?

    Think; The argument from such people has been that someone needs to be a member of the minority to be a proper representive of the minority. Sharpton’s major claim to fame is he’s black and therefore gets black support, despite his being the single most UN-qualified person for the office I can think of, for example.

    I wonder, Bill, if you’re ready to call black people stupid because they will vote for someone of their own race, over someone perhaps better suited for the position because of the other factors.

    If not, and if you still don’t see my point, I wonder if you have a braincell in that huge mellon on top of your neck.

  2. jen says:

    Is Maher so stupid he doesn’t understand why that annoys people from the south?


  3. Jalal Abu Jarhead says:

    There’s no contention. Texas is in the Southwest, if you’re going to include it in any region at all. In fact, Texas is sufficiently (and large) different to qualify as its own region.

    “Never ask a man where he’s from. If he’s from Texas, he’ll tell you soon enought. If he ain’t, don’t embarrass him.”

    Not that I’m a Texan or anything. 😉

  4. Jalal Abu Jarhead says:

    Jeez, too many Scotches on a Saturday night (what am I doing reading blogs on a Saturday night, anyway?). That last line should read, “Texas is sufficiently different (and large) to qualify as its own region.”

  5. Ara Rubyan says:

    Maher is just pointing out that the emperor has no clothes; that’s what comedians do. Everyone knows the Dems are getting no votes in the south. So why not laugh about it?

  6. Jim says:

    Well, as someone who recently lived in both Southern Virginia (Norfolk) and Colorado Springs, I can’t help but take offense at Mr. Maher. The problem with NE liberals is thier blind prejudice about the south. Edwards didn’t say ‘We Southerners ain’t gonna vote for no Yankee! You suckers up North will take our Clintons and Carters, but we just ain’t buyin’ Kerrys and Deans.’
    What the rest of the country actually thinks is that they won’t be talked down to by those Kerrys and Deans. For all that I disagree about Edwards, at least he can speak in a way that is completly condescending to the average man. It is time for the NE to realize that the South is not the South of the Civil War…it is the NE who is trapped in an isultating cocoon that is now a ‘region dominated by so much prejudice.’

  7. Dodd says:

    Maher is right, we aren’t buying any Kerrys or Deans. But, as Mark Twain once pointed out, it is important to take from an experience only the lesson that is in it. A cat that once burns itself on a stove will never step on a stove – hot or cold – again. The fact that we don’t care for Dean or Kerry doesn’t mean there are no Northeasterners period. Plenty of Southerners liked Lieberman (CT).