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Democrats And The South

Sometimes you get an email that's just worth republishing in full:

This little instapundit-authored feature seems to have eluded blogosphere attention.  Seems up your alley as an symptom of (1) Republican denial about the roots of their electoral strength and (2) right-wing bloggers, a la instaP., pretending they're not just Republican apologists, but being just that.

Basically, the article argues that non-Southern Democrats have not been able to win the presidency since JFK because...because...um...lack of credibility on national defense.  An article written for a British audience explaining Southern US elective politics without mentioning the following words: race, racism, black, African American, civil rights, George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, Southern Strategy, &c. &c.  You get the picture.  I think he deserves some skewering.

Glenn's article is here. Now as a political strategy, of course, pleading racism doesn't work. In people's subjective understanding, they don't like John Kerry because they don't trust him on national security and that's the problem he needs to address. If you want to think analytically about what's going on, though, you have to ask yourself if there's any good reason why southern whites and southern blacks would have such divergent views of national security? Can it really be that 90 percent of African-Americans everywhere are unserious about defending America?

October 4, 2004 | Permalink


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There happens to be a very exact index of racism: the belief that interracial marriage should be illegal. This is not a proxy issue – there are no non-racist reasons for supporting these laws. In the year 2000, Republican Alabama voted on an constituti... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 5, 2004 3:11:34 PM


I think southerners (and midwesterners as well) leaning republican has more to do with not liking you "big city folk" than anything else.

Posted by: Jacob | Oct 4, 2004 10:17:58 PM

I'm a right wing blogger, and an insta-pundit so what's it to ya?

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 4, 2004 10:25:46 PM

Are Houstonians no longer big-city folk? Atlantans aren't "real southerners"? Dallas? Memphis?

Race is at the root of Republican dominance of white protestant southern males. Brown-skinned Republican anti-abortion Catholic Bobby Jindal's Gubernatorial loss due to the defection of rural north Louisiana protestants shows the way.

Posted by: Ikram | Oct 4, 2004 10:27:30 PM

"Big city folks" is a euphemism for "colored" in much of the South.

Posted by: Dave M | Oct 4, 2004 10:34:57 PM

It seems to me that the Democrats should write off about five Southern states plus most of the Great Plains and northern Rockies: North Carolina to Mississippi, Texas up to North Dakota, over to Idaho, and down to Utah, plus Alaska and Indiana.

That's about a third of the electorate (someone correct me) and almost all of the solid red states.

Now, some of the things you have to do to win Missouri or West Virginia are the same as, or similiar to the things you have to do to win Mississippi. But you don't need to do so much of it.

On other similiar threads here in this Ivyish site I have seen all white males lumped together if they were any one of the following: religious, poor, uneducated, rural, flyover, or Southern. If someone is all of those things, they're a poor prospect for the Democrats, but if they are only some of them, they don't have to be.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 4, 2004 10:49:03 PM

Dave M. - I really don't think that's true. Most will call a spade a spade, unless they are in the company of someone whom they think will judge them for doing so.

I think the latter is a more accurate description of the "big city folk" they so despise (ie, tolerant, white, educated, urban liberals).

To go out on a limb (not so much in Atlanta, where I live), I'd say that the cognitive links go something like this for your God-fearing Average Southern Joe: Democrats => anti-war => feminine => gay morally degenerate => secular => Democrats

Gay: it's the new black.

And if we want the South, we're going to have to either kidnap God or kill him outright.

Posted by: JR | Oct 4, 2004 10:52:07 PM

I don't get the point here. What does race have to do with national defense? And why is defense spelled defence in England?

Posted by: Just Karl | Oct 4, 2004 10:53:19 PM

Hi Ziz,

Can you tell me how you've gathered the following demographics:

On other similiar threads here in this Ivyish site I have seen all white males lumped together if they were any one of the following: religious, poor, uneducated, rural, flyover, or Southern.

I've never told anybody I was uneducated...

...oh wait.

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 4, 2004 11:02:18 PM

"Race is at the root of Republican dominance of white protestant southern males"

you lefties might feel better consoling yourselves that the Republicans only win because they appeal to racists, but its self-serving partisan hackery, repeating this line to yourselves doesn't make it true

Posted by: Reg | Oct 4, 2004 11:15:42 PM

Drew, my point is that those are separate traits. Each one of them by itself makes a white male less likely to be a Democrat, and someone with all those traits is very unlikely to be a Democrat, but if the Democrats give up on any white male who has any one of those other traits (as I've seen people here come close to advocating), they become a permanant minority party.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 4, 2004 11:21:44 PM

Thanks for sharing, Reg.

What Matt said was that it's dishonest to talk about "the Southern strategy" without mentioning race at all. And he pointed out that something like 30% of Southerners -- the black ones -- are even more strongly Democratic than the white ones are Republican, leading one to suspect that race might be a small factor here.

I'll grant that you are an expert in self-serving partisan hackery, though.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 4, 2004 11:27:27 PM

Fair enough Ziz - it all about the interpretation.

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 4, 2004 11:33:51 PM

There are Nigerians in my family.

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds | Oct 4, 2004 11:50:52 PM

Not only are Yankees unserious about national security, they declared war on the United States. That's why you need a Southerner to tell you who to trust on these things.

Posted by: John Isbell | Oct 4, 2004 11:58:38 PM

Nobody here seems to notice that the South of 2004 is NOT THE SOUTH of 1964.

Not even close.

Posted by: Joey | Oct 5, 2004 12:01:17 AM

You know, I rather enjoy the irony of stereotyping. Because we all know, all white southerners vote Republican. And why do all white southerners vote Republican? Because all white southerners are racist, that's why! And as we all know, the whole raison d'etre of the Republican party is racism...

Posted by: Alex Knapp | Oct 5, 2004 12:04:43 AM

I don't think we need to write off North Carolina, which is clearly trending towards the Democrats. Tons of Yankee transplants. Georgia might go down that road someday too.

I agree on all the others though.

Posted by: JP | Oct 5, 2004 12:31:48 AM

History in a Nutshell (to the conservatives, i was taught my history by a Northeast Roman Catholic Republican and a few other conservatives): Up until the 1940s, a lot of blacks voted for the Republicans. After the 1940s, with Roosovelt, blacks started to migrate to the Democratic Party (at least outside of the South). This trend follows the trend of the black migration. For those of you who do not know about the black migration, this is the history massive movement of blacks from the South to the North due to the lack of jobs that were available during the great depression and after WWII. This migration and movement of blacks to larger cities came at the same time that the civil rights movement (which actually has its roots in the 1930s- and some can argue with the NAACP Legal Defense Funds roadmap which has sense been usurped by the left and right for various agendas in this country). The reallignment of blacks to the the Dems did not hit full swing until the 1960s with JFK and Johnson. The effect of this movement lead to Southern white Democrats who were part of the Jim Crow Era feeling out of place. This resulted in groups such as the Dixiecrats (which had existed before) coming into greater power atthe local level. Now, the thing to remember is that in political thought- what happens in the US is that one party will cease on an issue created by a third party and cease the votes of the third party. It's one of the reasons why third parties are so hard to form in the US- namely that that the two major parties will usurp the best ideas from the third party (or in this case worse ideas). Along came Nixon- seeking to find an approach that would give the Republicans a winnable approach to break the Dems control down south (remember the yellow and blue dog democrat and let's not even get into the old party machines that held states like Virginia for decades). Anyway, you had the formation of what would become to be called the Southern Strategy (a concept that was already forming from people like Strom (I am suck a racist) Thurmond. Southern Strategy equaled three issues: defense, crime and blacks. Nixon believed the party could use these three wedge issues to separate white southerners from the dems and they would come to the Republican party. It was a sucessful strategy in many ways because it played into the old school issues that slave masters used to play between poor whites and blacks (we are all a product of history) by saying you are at least are better than the blacks. The strategy has continously up until recently been a game of hide the ball. In my state,Viginia, it was to shut down the schools for 5 years back when Brown v. Board happened. In later decades it took on various forms. Willy Horton in the 1988 George Bussh the first ads, or the wellfare mother stuff from the 80s (statistically msot wellfare mothers were white, but for the purpose ot the manipulation it did not matter). In the 1990s Jessie Helms of NC ran an ad where a black hand shakes the hand of a white guy thanking him for the job- and the narrator says "guess who has your job." He claimed it was an antiquota ad, and he was running against a black guy. In 2002 (I think) several conservatives of color down south ran and lost although they were going up against supposedly liberals. I can go on and on- and I am sure there a lot of people who will say none of this is true- but my advice- know your history, call and duck and duck, and don't think anyone in the black community beyond an Alan Keyes and those like him are going to be fooled. Peace out.

Posted by: bruhrabbit | Oct 5, 2004 12:32:04 AM

Damn. Joey and Alex Knapp really beat the hell out of that straw man.

Posted by: JP | Oct 5, 2004 12:32:33 AM

Reynolds analysis that defense/national security is a major reason that Southerners trend Republican is essentially correct. However, it is also correct to say, as Matt does, that it is dishonest -- or ignorant -- not to at least say, in passing, that race had something to do with the transformation of the South from solid Democrat to solid Republican. Is the South of today, the same as the South of 40 years ago? No, however, it was Reynolds who made the analysis about presidents in his lifetime -- dating from Kennedy. That's a major ommission and it is not reflexively liberal to note that.

Posted by: RobertG | Oct 5, 2004 12:40:25 AM

Maybe Glenn has a point about national security and the Northeast. While the South has always produced the brave soldiers who fight our wars, New York has always been the home of Tories, traitors, and draft riots. The women of New York were notorious whores of the British Army and the men of New York were cowards unwilling to fight the war to end slavery. Maybe these facts need to be brought up with every discussion of the Northeast. Just because you've embraced the term Yankee Doodle doesn't mean it wasn't a slur.

Posted by: Just Karl | Oct 5, 2004 12:49:11 AM

Glenn is a hack? SAY it aint SO! I think only Hewitt or Luskin surpasses him in unpaid rnc hackery.

What I love about the national defense thesis, is how NYC, the city most effected by terrorists was polled to have 10% of its residents willing to actively PROTEST Bush.

What is the chance of a terrorist attack in red-neck tennessee that Renyolds occupies? Zero?

Posted by: Jor | Oct 5, 2004 1:05:37 AM

One last swipe at the south, I'll be happy when those welfare-hating southerners, stop being the hypocritical welfare-queens they are. TN receives $1.26 from the federal govt. for every dollar of taxes it pays.

Posted by: Jor | Oct 5, 2004 1:10:20 AM

I wrote tonight in my blog about how leaving out those who don't agree with Bush's values means you are not a real American, particularly if you already live in the South.

Posted by: Nate | Oct 5, 2004 1:12:20 AM

For the record, not all of Tennessee is redneck. Parts of Nashville, Knoxville, and the Memphis area are surprisingly sophisticated.

Posted by: anonymous | Oct 5, 2004 1:37:04 AM

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