MORE SOUTH BASHING
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.