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  "The Way Down South" [article by Bob Moser in The Nation]
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Author Topic: "The Way Down South" [article by Bob Moser in The Nation]  (Read 6104 times)
Democratic Hawk
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« on: January 31, 2007, 10:16:05 am »

I came across a rather interesting article by Bob Moser called The Way Down South , which is taken from the February 12, 2007 issue of The Nation.

http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20070212&s=moser

Southern politics has seen a shift from the traditional Democratic populism centred on economic fairness towards a new Republican populism based on white cultural unity, in which the enemy is no longer the greedy corporate “Big Mules” (Jim Folsom) but the broad coalition of “pointy-headed intellectuals” (George Wallace).

Moser points out that while Nixon carried Dixie with 70% of the vote in 1972, the infusion of Southern black voters together with white moderates and liberals was encouraging in that ten of the eleven Confederate states had moderate-to-progressive governors, most of whom, such as Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Reubin Askew of Florida were calling for both economic fairness and racial reconciliation.

Nevertheless, despite such promising starts at the state level, Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” created an opportunity for Democrats, which they failed to take. This would have been seen the party adapting the South’s economic populist tradition “into a fresh, class-based politics with broad appeal to blacks and whites alike, directly challenging the politics of cultural fear and racial unity”.

In a nutshell, Moser provides a critique of both:

1.   The national Democrats who have effectively written off Dixie by saying forget the South
2.   The abandonment of economic populism in favor of a more Clintonian centrist or “me too approach”

He refers to these as the false dilemmas that Democrats have long believed about the South. Indeed, Moser describes that the chasm, which supposedly yawns between Southern ideology and national norms, “is widely, though routinely, overstated”.

In 2003 in a study of Southern political attitudes, pollster Scott Keeter, found that Southerners trended to the right on racial issues, immigration and the use of military force, they were also just as likely to favor government regulation, strong environmental protection and social welfare.

Bearing in the mind of the results of the 2006 midterms, Moser argues that Democrats “who bucked the script and offered Southerners a frank, unqualified brand of economic populism … were more successful than the Clinton clones”. For Moser this is best exemplified by the success of the under-funded Jim Webb in Virginia and the failure of the lavishly funded Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee.

In essence, Moser’s argument is that by reasserting economic fairness “as the central ‘moral’ issue of politics” , Democrats can move past their false dilemmas since this would be the key to:

1.   Attracting moderate evangelicals increasingly fed up with the narrowness and corruption of Republican “values”
2.   Firing up black voters in the South, who take a back seat to no-one as strong Bible believers

Furthermore, such a fresh progressive “moral populism” can also help sway a lasting majority of Hispanics into the Democratic fold

Moser says that for Democrats to emphasise “the ‘value’ of economic fairness (along with other Democratic issues popular with moderate evangelicals, including environmental stewardship) could help bridge those moral and pragmatic concerns – and help Democrats forge a new progressive coalition that cuts through racial divisions”.

Moser concludes by saying that in surrendering the South, Democrats have:

1.   Abandoned the old hope of a durable national progressive majority
2.   Allowed right-wingers to build a mighty fortress for the defense of free-market excess in a region that is home top almost half – 47% - of the Americans who call themselves populists
3.   Allowed economic, racial and cultural divisions to fester

Moser finished by quoting Chris Kromm, director of the liberal Institute for Southern studies in Durham, North Carolina, who says:

“For Democrats to turn their back on a region that is half to all African Americans and a growing number of Latinos call home, a place devastated by Hurricane Katrina, plant closings, poverty and other indignities – in short for progressives to give up on the very place where they could argue they are needed most – would rightfully be viewed as a historic retreat from the party’s commitment to justice for all”.

Any thoughts? Is economic populism the way forward for Democrats if they are to broaden their appeal in the South?

Dave
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Sam Spade
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2007, 02:58:10 pm »

Economic populism would strengthen Democratic appeal in the broader South (and Rust Belt).  However, it would weaken Democratic appeal in the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest and quite possibly California and Illinois.

Everything is a trade-off.  It also depends on what are the important issues of the day are (and that similarly explains a lot of the earlier movement).
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Padfoot
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2007, 03:09:26 am »

I agree with Sam.  More emphasis on economic populism will alienate Northwestern and Northeastern voters.

I didn't realize that environmental stewardship was so popular down South.  I think that would be a better issue to take on for Democrats.  It would probably kill their new Western Strategy though.
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Undisguised Sockpuppet
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2007, 10:54:17 am »

The US people as a whole are more socially/economically liberal than the government.  When we have the next major political shakeup expect the alliance of socially conservative/economically liberal southern republicans and northern/western socially liberal/moderate and ecnomically conservative republicans to be broken. Note that I said more liberal as a whole not on every issue. For example being tough on crime(as in violent crime thayt is. There's dissent on victimelss crimes) is pretty much a position held by EVERYOEN in the US. Same with abortion.
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Cubby
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2007, 09:56:18 am »

I read this issue of The Nation. I didn't think it was a good article. This has nothing to do with my exagerated fear/dislike of Southerners. The whole thing was just one long complaint with no new solutions.

I loved how he vindicated Howard Dean for making that statement in 2003 about "trying to reach out to guys with Confederate Flags on their pick-ups." I knew at the time he was doing the right thing, and that it was his own party that attacked him for that remark.
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Rob
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2007, 10:35:34 am »

Great article. I especially liked these parts:

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LOL

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Just another reason to hate that slimeball Rahm Emanuel. He undermined liberal candidates across the nation- whose side was he on, anyway?
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2007, 10:47:00 am »
« Edited: February 14, 2007, 11:04:08 am by jmfcst »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If an individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.
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opebo
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2007, 11:02:30 am »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.

Good point.  I think it is reasonable to treat the bigots as the enemy.
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jmfcst
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2007, 11:05:22 am »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If an individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.

Good point.  I think it is reasonable to treat the bigots as the enemy.

agreed, it certainly beats pandering
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Cubby
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2007, 11:09:02 am »

Great article. I especially liked these parts:

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That was another reason I didn't like the article. How dare he call the guy in my sig a "Christian conservative". Thats slander. Angry

Just kidding.
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Colin
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2007, 11:18:11 am »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If an individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.

Well you have to admit that the South is a very distinct cultural and political entity within the Anglophonic world. I think the closest thing to the South is probably Quebec since it's really the only other place in any other English speaking immigrant country where culture and politics are as disparate from the prevailing currents outside of region as the South itself is in the United States.
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jmfcst
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2007, 11:30:45 am »
« Edited: February 14, 2007, 11:55:02 am by jmfcst »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If an individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.

Well you have to admit that the South is a very distinct cultural and political entity within the Anglophonic world. I think the closest thing to the South is probably Quebec since it's really the only other place in any other English speaking immigrant country where culture and politics are as disparate from the prevailing currents outside of region as the South itself is in the United States.

Well, the South represents less than 50% of the 29 states that voted twice for Bush43.  OK, KS, ND, SD, WY, MT, UT, ID, and NV aren't exactly southern, yet the GOP has a stranglehold on them at the Presidential level. 
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opebo
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2007, 11:56:50 am »

Similar though - dominated by religion/bigotry.
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Colin
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2007, 02:30:31 pm »

Note to self:

If you find yourself constantly treating a whole section of the nation like specimens under glass, then it is a sign you really don’t have much in common with that section.

If an individual of a whole section of society perceives being under examination, then the individual will treat the examiner as an outsider.

Well you have to admit that the South is a very distinct cultural and political entity within the Anglophonic world. I think the closest thing to the South is probably Quebec since it's really the only other place in any other English speaking immigrant country where culture and politics are as disparate from the prevailing currents outside of region as the South itself is in the United States.

Well, the South represents less than 50% of the 29 states that voted twice for Bush43.  OK, KS, ND, SD, WY, MT, UT, ID, and NV aren't exactly southern, yet the GOP has a stranglehold on them at the Presidential level. 

Does that have anything to do with what I said? Please tell me because I don't know how the hell that's a response.

Also I would have you take a look at all the articles that are coming out about the Rocky Mountains/Interior West and the "shifts" that are supposedly occuring through that region.
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jmfcst
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2007, 03:03:59 pm »

Well, the South represents less than 50% of the 29 states that voted twice for Bush43.  OK, KS, ND, SD, WY, MT, UT, ID, and NV aren't exactly southern, yet the GOP has a stranglehold on them at the Presidential level. 

Does that have anything to do with what I said? Please tell me because I don't know how the hell that's a response.

Also I would have you take a look at all the articles that are coming out about the Rocky Mountains/Interior West and the "shifts" that are supposedly occuring through that region.

my point was the South, as a whole, isn't any more "removed" from the rest of America than any of the 29 states that voted twice for Bush43.

And evitable short-term swings of the political pendulum don’t necessarily reveal long-term tends.
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2007, 05:05:31 pm »

People like to put the south under a magnifying glass just as much as they put the Northeast, Texas, or California under the same thing.

But I feel that the south has become the very thing they despised not all that long ago (at least in economic terms).
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memphis
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« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2007, 02:25:26 am »

People like to put the south under a magnifying glass just as much as they put the Northeast, Texas, or California under the same thing.

But I feel that the south has become the very thing they despised not all that long ago (at least in economic terms).

I don't think that the South has ever been really anti-big business. Instead, the reason that they were so Democratic for so long was that they were viciously anti-tariff. The South's aversion to taxes has endured to this day, pushing them firmly into the Republican camp.
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2007, 06:46:18 am »

People like to put the south under a magnifying glass just as much as they put the Northeast, Texas, or California under the same thing.

But I feel that the south has become the very thing they despised not all that long ago (at least in economic terms).

I don't think that the South has ever been really anti-big business. Instead, the reason that they were so Democratic for so long was that they were viciously anti-tariff. The South's aversion to taxes has endured to this day, pushing them firmly into the Republican camp.

You got that right Memphis. I doubt those plantation owners way back in the day were "anti-business" more like "anti-industrialization".
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