How one-party rule is shaping politics in the Deep South.
November 10, 2014 8:12 AM   Subscribe

 
I've never really understood how southern whites ended up so reflexively conservative, regardless of social class. There's way less ideological diversity among whites in the South than there is in the rest of the country. And I suspect that much or most of the non-conservative white population in places like Virginia and North Carolina and Florida is in-migration from the rest of the country.

In most of the country, you've got at least a big slice of the working class white population that votes their economic interest, but the motivations seem different in the old South. Is it the lack of historical industrialization? Absence of labor unions? Racism being a more primary motivator than it is anywhere else? I've spent some time in rural Alabama, and it's culturally very different than California and Alaska, where I did my growing up. But as a non native I can't claim to really get it.
posted by jackbrown at 8:26 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


See also Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy.

I grew up in the North but have lived in the South for nearly 30 years now. I find that northerners have a mistaken view of Republicans based on their own experiences with the moderate candidates and officeholders up there.

Southern Democrats are like northern Republicans; southern Republicans are like northern orangutans.
posted by intermod at 8:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [41 favorites]


The problem with the factional splits inside the Republican party in the South is that they're not moderate Republican vs conservative Republican in any way people outside the South understand those terms. They're basically hardcore business-ideology Republicans (no taxes, fees for everything, kill public schools and services, transfer all government responsibilities to the for-profit sector, repeal and remove all regulations, etc.) vs ideological theocrats. At least here in Texas that's the case--I know we're not deep South but we fit a lot of what the article talks about. So you end up with, to take up examples that are sort of nationally known, John Cornyn vs Ted Cruz as your Republican types.

At least we kept Lloyd Doggett. They keep trying to gerrymander him out by putting him up against San Antonio Democrats (presumably Latin@) and it keeps not working because the man knows how to serve constituents and get out the vote.

(One hopeful sign: a hardcore Republican family member apparently voted no candidate for governor and LVDP for lt. governor this year. I would never have expected that. But it's going to take a lot of folks like that and a better GOTV effort and frankly, better candidates to break the Republican dominance in Texas.)
posted by immlass at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


They're basically hardcore business-ideology Republicans [...] vs ideological theocrats.

Are there any Republicans in office anywhere in the country who don't belong to one of these two camps? I thought that was the entire makeup of the party nowadays.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:48 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


In most of the country, you've got at least a big slice of the working class white population that votes their economic interest...

The problem there being that that "big slice of the working class white population" believe that Republican goals are in their economic interest. ex. Indiana.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:55 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


The South always voted strictly Democrat since GOP the party of Lincoln. But when Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights act, he announced "there goes the southern vote." The South tends to be conservative--anti union etc., and minority people often have their voting rights denied or they fail to vote their self interest...Thus the solid south remains just that, but now for the GOP rather than the Democrats, though this may change as social, economic, and demographic issues evolve.
posted by Postroad at 8:55 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Are there any Republicans in office anywhere in the country who don't belong to one of these two camps? I thought that was the entire makeup of the party nowadays.

I'm told there are still country-club Republicans in the northeast. (And a few elderly ones elsewhere in the country, where they should probably be declared an endangered species and put on habitat preserve, oh wait.)
posted by immlass at 8:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


while the South’s Republicans Look a Lot Like Its 1970s Democrats

That's because that's what they are. The Northern Democrat + Dixiecrat coalition was an incredibly strange one, brought on by really one fact -- it was a Republican President and a Republican Congress that prosecuted and won the US Civil War, so there was *no way in hell* a southerner would be Republican. So, they were Democrats, and thus were in an uneasy but stable coalition with the Northern Democrats. Meanwhile, the GOP was run basically by NE republicans, who were conservative, but nothing like today.

What changed? The Civil Rights Act. Supported by Northeaster and Labor Dems, opposed by the GOP and *violently* opposed by the Dixiecrats. Meanwhile, a new GOP broke out in the SW, in the guise of Barry Goldwater.

While the NE GOP disliked the Civil Right Act as being a federal intrusion into state matters (yeah, I know) the SW Goldwater GOP hated, hated, hated it. Suddenly, the Dixiecrats found a far closer match, politically, in that part of the GOP than they did with the northern Dems.

Thus began the great mix mastering of the two parties. BOTH parties split. The GOP split SW/NE, the Democrats split S/N. The Dixiecrats, after going alone, ended up joining the SW GOP, what was left of the NE GOP slowly moved into the Democratic sphere or faded away. Really, about the only old NE GOP left in office that I can remember offhand is Olivia Snow in Maine.

By the time Reagan came along (in national terms) the realignment was all but done. There were quite a few Southern Dems still left, but they were GOP in all but name and most of them switched parties after the 1980 election.

Seriously. There Civil Rights era defines our politics and our lives today. The rise of suburbia is not just because of the highways being built, it was a direct reaction to the riots that happened in cities during this era, the most prominent being the 1967 Detroit Riot. The reason that even dramatically conservative black populations strongly vote Democrat is they remember who the GOP -- the Dixiecrats of 1950.

No other factor since WWII affects us more. The hatred of government? Between forced integration and busing of children to balance schools, the idea that the government wasn't actually here to help you got set into everyone minds. The lack of school funding? People with money (primarily white) pulled their kids out of the now integrated schools, put them in private schools, then voted to cut school spending massively because they weren't sending their kids to public schools. Reagan only tapped this with the "welfare queen" schtick he pulled. Ripping out neighborhoods for highways? Needed those to get to work if you didn't want to live with "those people."

Fundamentally, the US is what it is because of racism, and the GOP is what it is because they're all for making sure that non-whites get nothing from government.
posted by eriko at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2014 [267 favorites]


I've never really understood how southern whites ended up so reflexively conservative, regardless of social class.

The one drop rule.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:06 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic, eriko.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have wondered about the number of very low income republican/libertarians here in Texas msyelf. Some of my friends who were born poor and are still poor and tend to value libertarian or conservative ethics have internalized a brutal hatred and loathing for anyone who needs help, accepts government assistance, or can't make it "on their own". A lot of these are working poor who value their identity as people who work themselves to the bone, think they are better than people who don't, tend to forget or minimize times they may have applied for and been denied or actually used assistance (which they often have at least at some point) but once they get off they revert back to distancing themselves from that, excusing/rationalizing it, and moving on to point out the people who use those services more and are therefore the REAL pieces of shit. I think it has a lot to do with a hateful culture that loathes people with disabilities, emotional problems, who need assistance, or are just struggling and could use help.

Part of this is that there are so many people here who have been living in generations of brutal poverty and have developed a certain pride in surviving in unhealthy and harmful conditions. They have statistically higher mental health and physical health problems as a result of these harmful consideration over multiple generations but they take pride in accepting their suffering seeing it as part of "doing their duty" and not being a burden on others (even though they are in denial about the times their health problems or use of assistance actually has been a "burden"). I have even noticed people that spent years on food stamps or used TANF ALSO sharing in this hatred once they are off it-- or who live off of family or relatives but feel proud they are dependent only on romantic partners/family and not the government which is less shameful.

Part of it, I think, is that many of these apply for benefits hopeful and are denied because if you're working full time you frequently qualify for nothing at all. So there are a lot of people in need who are being denied the help they need and they suffer and get angry at those who were working LESS and therefore were given some aid. Then when they get better they forget the would have accepted help doing those times if it were there, and remember themselves as having buckled down and pushed through because of how awesome they are, and not because of a brutal system that abandons those in need.

Those who DO get better, I often here speak in very derogatory ways about all the people they new that fell apart so they had to leave behind over the years. So those who make it through derive an identity as above those who fall apart into lack of employment/dependance on others/neediness etc. They don't seem interested in engaging in the statistics about the level of people who face such obstacles and thus fall apart into negative outcomes being statistical the norm rather than the exception- and when THEY have periods of struggle or dependance, once they get back on their feet they tend to go right back to deriding others who need help even if they used support during their own time of need.

These are just observations I have made trying to understand this phenomenon in people around me. I have worked a lot of local business food service places and there is a certain population that gravitates to those sorts of jobs and some either get lucky and get something else- wind up getting help from family to get out, or get stuck- but there's a certain amount of libertarian ethics that is very popular in this crowd (in my experience) even though a majority are struggling and really could use a lot of help.

It really is amazing to me how powerfully successful those ideologies are at appealing to people who really need the opposite most, but I think what those ideologies offer people is pride in accepting suffering? People want to contribute and I do think public welfare programs that are heavily focused on THEM, the population of people who need help- as others who are not contributing and need charity/pity as opposed to more grassroots/lead from within movements of seeking the needs of vulnerable populations don't always appeal to people who need them because they are designed by people who don't understand them, underestimate the level and type of resources needed in some ways, and underestimate the persons actual gifts and strengths that they could be contributing with in others- sometimes rendering them unusable. This is also something that turns lower income people off to large bureaucratic programs often designed and run heavily by people who have very little understanding of what it means to already know how to survive brutal poverty- or who survived and and conveniently forgot all the parts where they needed a lot of help or floundered and is applying a whole if internalized shaming they endured onto others within the very program that's supposed to help.
posted by xarnop at 9:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


southern Republicans are like northern orangutans.

You mean like some of the most peaceful and timid creatures on the planet?
posted by sour cream at 9:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


There's race, but please recall that the Southern Baptist Convention (created after a split from northern Baptists for slavery-related reasons) has been and remains the region's largest denomination. And it's become much more theologically and ideologically conservative over the past two or three decades. Its dominance among the white population is being threatened by non-denominational congregations and mega-churches, but its influence is still felt.
posted by raysmj at 9:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wrong. It's not the GOP's fault. It's the fault of the national Democratic Party becoming overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues and expecting the Southern Democrats of days past to follow suit. Good luck getting funding to run as a Democrat unless you sign onto the ultraliberal culture war platform.

Perfect example of this last week in Texas: Democrats have a rare opportunity to take the governor's mansion and they nominate Nancy Pelosi Wendy Davis. Put up someone that speaks to the middle class, like an old Southern Democrat could have done, and the Democrats have their first statewide victory in two generations; put up someone like Davis and you alienate everyone except the few straight-party Democrat voters left down here.
posted by resurrexit at 9:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


People in the South had many, many years to get used to seeing human beings routinely treated as nothing more than animals or farm equipment. Why is it a mystery our culture is so much cozier with political positions that view people as objects or equipment to be used for economic enrichment? I'm sure that view's offensive to some in the South, but from what I've seen growing up in the South, coming from a family with deep Southern roots that include bona fide confederate agitators, it's the inescapable conclusion I've drawn about the culture.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:20 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues

Such as equality for women, I guess?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:21 AM on November 10, 2014 [72 favorites]


Democrats have a rare opportunity to take the governor's mansion and they nominate Nancy Pelosi Wendy Davis.

Whereas all the actual Texas Democrats I know were lukewarm on her because she wasn't actually that great on Democratic issues and because of that couldn't get out the vote she needed to win. And I say that as a strong personal supporter of Planned Parenthood. Davis was exactly the downfall of the "run Republican-lite" strategy here in Texas. Liberals side-eyed her and Republicans wouldn't vote for her because she had a D next to her name plus ABORTION.
posted by immlass at 9:25 AM on November 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


The Democratic Party is far from "overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues." That's a GOP talking point if I've ever heard one.
posted by Foosnark at 9:26 AM on November 10, 2014 [55 favorites]


eriko is spot on. America's original sin, slavery, is the root cause of this. You can't have working public services, because it might go to "those people." You can no longer enact an explicit poll tax, or explicitly restrict the voting rights of blacks, so you make a voter ID law. Sure, there are poor white people (and old people) who will get caught up in it, but you're going to be hurting black people a lot more.
posted by X-Himy at 9:27 AM on November 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


Chris Rock, quoted in a recent issue of the New Yorker, remarks: "There’s nothing a white guy with a penny hates more than a n----- with a nickel."
posted by Bromius at 9:31 AM on November 10, 2014 [63 favorites]


I've never really understood how southern whites ended up so reflexively conservative, regardless of social class.

If you're talking traditional social values (church going, temperance, continence, modesty, formal manners, physical courage), one could argue they didn't end up conservative, they always were. Question becomes, how did the rest of the country end up as it did.

People in the South had many, many years to get used to seeing human beings routinely treated as nothing more than animals or farm equipment.

People in the North by contrast saw them as draft animals and factory machines.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:35 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


They got that shit hooked up like Mission Impossible, man!
-Pookie.
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 AM on November 10, 2014


For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't all agree to just let the Confederacy go. Let them create their own conservative utopia along the gulf coast and the USA can finally start solving some problems.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:37 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


southern Republicans are like northern orangutans.

You mean like some of the most peaceful and timid creatures on the planet?


Orangutans have done nothing to deserve this slander.
posted by The Michael The at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


This is slightly OT, but I have not studied U.S. political history in detail. Can someone please give a thumbnail sketch as to how it happened that the Republicans who were the "progressive" party back around the Civil War era became the party of conservatives, and the Democrats became the progressive party? How did this flip happen? I find that fascinating, because it's just so hard to imagine short term - if I try to imagine today's tea party infused GOP becoming the liberal party and the Dems becoming the conservative party, it seems absolutely laughable. How did such a flip happen? It couldn't have been within a generation, could it? I can't imagine.
posted by VikingSword at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2014


Really, about the only old NE GOP left in office that I can remember offhand is Olivia Snow in Maine.

Olympia Snowe retired in 2013 and cited the dysfunction in Congress brought on by the new GOP as one of her main reasons.
posted by blucevalo at 9:42 AM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


America's original sin, slavery, is the root cause of this.

Actually, the original sin was really the theft of land and murder of Native Americans. Slavery didn't really start playing a major role in (what would become) the country until the southern colonies were founded. We did fight large wars over both issues. Everyone remembers the Civil War, because of the dramatic effect it had on the country post war and the large number of American citizens killed or maimed by it, but there was a very long set of wars against Native Americans, dating back to before the Revolution.

Please, do not assume that I in any way shape or form support slavery (or, for that matter, the "Indian Wars", as we called them.) Slavery was our greatest shame, but it wasn't our first shame. The US has done many, many things wrong.

It all really boils down to this: There was a time where a class of people had power over another class of people. They oppose anything that reduces that power and increases the power of the formerly powerless.

Hell, you can sum up pretty much *every* cultural clash with that, and the amazing thing about the US is how the class with power ends up being the exact same thing every time -- White, European, Protestant, Male. Do not underestimate that "Protestant" part, the reason that many European immigrants had such hard times was that they were Catholic. In Chicago, the Germans and Scandinavians had a much easier time than the Irish and Polish, because the Germans and Scandinavians were Protestant (Lutheran, to be specific, which is OG Protestant) and the Irish and Polish were Catholic. That bias was strong enough that JFK encountered real resistance in his campaign, would we really elect a Catholic president?

There's always *some* bullshit reason to hate a person, it appears.
posted by eriko at 9:46 AM on November 10, 2014 [42 favorites]


I would like to know what "overwhelmingly liberal on culture war issues" means. Because as far as I can see Davis is in favor of gay marriage (Houston has an openly gay mayor and San Francisco never has just for flavor) and thinks abortion should be legal sometimes. What am I missing? What are the white southern democrats missing?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:48 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Part of it, I think, is that many of these apply for benefits hopeful and are denied because if you're working full time you frequently qualify for nothing at all. So there are a lot of people in need who are being denied the help they need and they suffer and get angry at those who were working LESS and therefore were given some aid.

People often wonder how the upper-lower and middle class can vote against their economic interests, and this is why. The middle class feel like they are struggling on a day to day basis and perceive social welfare as going to only those who are poorer than them. You see this a lot with high school students. When it's time to apply for college, suddenly these teenagers have to confront the financial reality of the American dream, and it's bleak. Their childhood dream of being a marine biologist now has a price tag attached. To achieve it, they have to strive for a handful of private scholarships or hope that their parents meet whatever the federal cut off is for grants. It's hard to avoid resenting your peers who by some miracle get a golden ticket to college and the economic opportunities that come with it.

Then they see the same thing happen repeatedly through their work lives.

Meanwhile, the social welfare that goes to the rich is usually invisible--we don't see what taxes a business does or doesn't pay. And the forms of social welfare that primarily benefit the middle class--like libraries or schools--are taken for granted because it seems like everyone uses them.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:49 AM on November 10, 2014 [16 favorites]




brought on by really one fact -- it was a Republican President and a Republican Congress that prosecuted and won the US Civil War, so there was *no way in hell* a southerner would be Republican.

That's not entirely true. White southerners *also* were just capable of rejecting the party of big business, capitalist industrialists, etc. before Nixon and his successors, the "Southern Strategy," etc., and even then, heck, you have Carter winning throughout the south in '76. Through the 20th century there's a real strain of progressive populism in the south (Huey Long?) that was *also* culturally conservative and deeply infected by racism and racial fear. The latter just proved stronger in the long run, sadly.
posted by batfish at 9:51 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Civil Rights Act. Supported by Northeaster and Labor Dems, opposed by the GOP ...

Uh, no. A greater proportion of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.
"Most people don't realize that today at all -- in proportional terms, a far higher percentage of Republicans voted for this bill than did Democrats, because of the way the Southerners were divided," said Purdum.

The division was geographic. The Guardian's Harry J. Enten broke down the vote, showing that more than 80% of Republicans in both houses voted in favor of the bill, compared with more than 60% of Democrats. When you account for geography, according to Enten's article, 90% of lawmakers from states that were in the Union during the Civil War supported the bill compared with less than 10% of lawmakers from states that were in the Confederacy.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:52 AM on November 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


People in the North by contrast saw them as draft animals and factory machines.

Sure, but their entire economic system didn't depend on seeing things that way and they didn't shed blood to defend those views and practices. Uniting with your neighbors to defend an idea has a way of creating a deep sense of shared commitment to the ideals.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:53 AM on November 10, 2014


Confederate Memorial Day, on which government offices would be closed, and employees would recieve [sic] an unpaid holiday

Wouldn't it be more in the spirit of the Confederacy to keep everyone at work and not pay them?
posted by chaiminda at 9:54 AM on November 10, 2014 [40 favorites]


What are the white southern democrats missing?

Their voters: this midterm had the lowest turnout in like 75 years. The Democratic Party is finished. Its constituency just doesn't vote often enough.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:55 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't all agree to just let the Confederacy go. Let them create their own conservative utopia along the gulf coast and the USA can finally start solving some problems.

While we're at it we can let go the 31 states (many of them not in the South) that voted in GOP governors and the 28 states that have Republicans in control of the state legislatures, because the governors and state legislatures ultimately have far, far more influence over what happens to all of us locally than a gridlocked federal government.
posted by blucevalo at 9:56 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


VikingSword, I am no scholar of this either. But basically, the Democrats were largely a populist party, and the Republicans were largely an establishment party. It's quite a bit more complicated than that, and ultimately a lot of what defined the parties was their stance on slavery, "states' rights", et al. So the Democrats were the party of slavery, and the Republicans were the party opposing them. The issue was that as new states were added to the union, whether or not they were going to be slave or free was the big issue. Eventually, this was a big part of what led to the Civil War.

Slavery and racism is something we today think of as "conservative", but it almost ran orthogonal to a lot of the politics of the time. So Democrats were a Southern party, and Republicans couldn't get elected there because Lincoln was a Republican. The Southern Realignment happened when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, all the Southern Democrats became Republicans. The last 60 years or so leading up to today's extreme partisanship and polarization has all largely been shaking out from that.
posted by X-Himy at 9:58 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is incredibly offensive and bigoted to imply that the 100 million+ people in the South are all racists and discussed if they are some strange, indecipherable anthropology object. I hope you realize that. But that is exactly what you are doing when you suggest that people in the South's worldview is effected (in any substantial regard) by slavery or the Civil Rights Act. That is hogwash. You want to know why the GOP does well in the South? How about asking southerners who vote GOP about why they do instead of speculating and assuming offensive motivations? Well, we couldn't ask them, because there aren't any here, in part because they are treated horribly such as this. I have family members and friends who vote for republican in the south, and for you to imply that these are hate-filled people or racists is incredibly offensive and shameful.
posted by dios at 10:02 AM on November 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Right, I understand the Southern Realignment. What I'm hazy on is how exactly - and why - the Repub/Democratic progressive/conservative flip happened, from my totally hazy recollection, somewhere in the North East, around the turn of the century (19 to 20). Although it's an interesting point you make about slavery not really being a progressive/conservative split issue.
posted by VikingSword at 10:03 AM on November 10, 2014


For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't all agree to just let the Confederacy go. Let them create their own conservative utopia along the gulf coast and the USA can finally start solving some problems.

As this conversation continues, please remember that in a supposedly "red" state like Georgia, 44-47% of voters voted for Democrats. As the article notes, many of those people are not white and were born in the area. And a fair number of us are white, and some of us were born in the southeast as well. When you propose kicking our area out of the country, what do you think should happen to those of us who do not support Republicans?
posted by hydropsyche at 10:03 AM on November 10, 2014 [34 favorites]


For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't all agree to just let the Confederacy go. Let them create their own conservative utopia along the gulf coast and the USA can finally start solving some problems.

Forced exile for differing beliefs sounds like such a realistic and helpful suggestion!
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Southern politics seems to be based on a reaction to perceived disrespect by those outside the south as much as race these days. Which is frankly true in a lot of cases. People from outside tend to think of the south as a bunch of uneducated racists and that creates a more insular mindset among those who feel wrongly judged, so they start treating the people that stereotype them that way as the enemy. So even if the issues are ones they can support (such as the economic populism discussed above), they still won't vote for a party that often times seems to belittle them.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think gerrymandering is a big factor in a party in power being able to stay in power in several states.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


It is incredibly offensive and bigoted to imply that the 100 million+ people in the South are all racists and discussed if they are some strange, indecipherable anthropology object. I hope you realize that. But that is exactly what you are doing when you suggest that people in the South's worldview is effected (in any substantial regard) by slavery or the Civil Rights Act. That is hogwash. You want to know why the GOP does well in the South? How about asking southerners who vote GOP about why they do instead of speculating and assuming offensive motivations? Well, we couldn't ask them, because there aren't any here, in part because they are treated horribly such as this. I have family members and friends who vote for republican in the south, and for you to imply that these are hate-filled people or racists is incredibly offensive and shameful.

On the one hand, yeah. On the other hand, if I did personally interview a random southern republican the confidence I have that I would at least encounter a known racist dog whistle is 100%. That has just been my experience.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


When you propose kicking our area out of the country, what do you think should happen to those of us who do not support Republicans?

Amnesty. You can apply for a green card (filing fee of $1070) and citizenship five years later ($680) assuming you obey the law and visa numbers are available.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


How about asking southerners who vote GOP about why they do instead of speculating and assuming offensive motivations?

It's not all that hard to find answers to this question without actually personally "asking southerners who vote GOP." It's called looking at research. And yes, sorry to burst your bubble, but some of that research involves racism and the legacy of slavery in the South.
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't all agree to just let the Confederacy go. Let them create their own conservative utopia along the gulf coast and the USA can finally start solving some problems.
Because when their neofeudal economies collapse, they'll blame the godless homosexuals, and then invade us.
posted by wuwei at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


You want to know why the GOP does well in the South? How about asking southerners who vote GOP about why they do instead of speculating and assuming offensive motivations?

Well, it's true, there aren't any around here - or where I live, We-Ho - so I can't ask. I honestly didn't have any preconceived notions about the motivations. Lacking live people to ask, I therefore rely on the only thing that's available to me: commentary by GOP voters in the South, as expressed in commentary in various articles. An excellent example is the TNR article from the FPP. I haven't finished reading all the comments there, but from the sample so far, it's very, very, very clear who those voters are: racists, and ill-informed about basic facts. Now, we may say that this is hardly a representative sample - fine. But that immediately leaves us with a pretty big problem - why is it not representative? Why is it that commentary in such situations in countless articles is of the same kind? The explanations are not convincing: only the racists comment (why??), good progressive GOP voters in the South who puzzlingly vote for neanderthal Tea Party type Republicans don't know how to read or write and therefore can't comment? GOP voters who are not bigots and are well-informed are forbidden from commenting? I don't know. So, perhaps it is an unknown as to why these voters vote for the GOP - what is not an unknown is what those politicians stand for, because they advertise it so loudly (and with dog-whistling). I suppose someone might argue that we can't draw any conclusion about the voters who vote for the guy who stands for bigotry and narrow-mindedness and regressive policies, but others draw a rather simple conclusion - if you vote for a guy like that, odds are, you like what he says... pretty logical, no?
posted by VikingSword at 10:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [22 favorites]


What I'm hazy on is how exactly - and why - the Repub/Democratic progressive/conservative flip happened, from my totally hazy recollection, somewhere in the North East, around the turn of the century (19 to 20).

Well, looked at in terms of presidents, Teddy Roosevelt breaks away from the Republican establishment and starts the progressive Bull Moose Party when he loses the 1912 primary to Taft, but probably the Republican economic ideology we recognize today doesn't crystallize as such until Coolidge or even Hoover.
posted by batfish at 10:21 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Amongst the white, indigenous South there has never been, technically, any Democrats or Republicans, only Jacksonians who will nominally align themselves with any national party that feigns their beliefs and prejudices. Failing that, you get the Dixiecrats. Oh, and no matter what they call themselves, they expect to be in charge. Politics is a blood sport, y'all...
posted by jim in austin at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Thanks, batfish - but what drove that ideology in the two parties? How did that happen? Because, it must have happened in both, for that transposition to happen. Very strange.
posted by VikingSword at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2014


eriko: "Do not underestimate that "Protestant" part"

Protestant hate ethic.
posted by symbioid at 10:31 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not entirely convinced that Southrons are predestined to vote for economically conservative policies. Weren't the Dixiecrats big on grand public works projects, and gladly accepted New Deal programs? Whither Huey Long? It seems like because Republicans speak the socially conservative language that appeals to the South, the voters also put up with fiscally right-wing policies since it's part of the overall package. Maybe if there were Yellow Dogs who could operate in the Christian democratic style, the South can gradually move away from being made dupes of the Koch brothers and other libertarians/neolibs. Indeed, Mike Huckabee originally looked like such a figure back in 2008, but then you actually look at his "economically populist" policies and you realize all he knew about was the FairTax boondoggle.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dios,
While the shift in Democratic attitudes was relatively uniform and dramatic, the underlying levels were not, and this has produced a sharp intra-party difference in attitudes. Democrats outside the white South are the only group that blames external factors in white society more than internal factors in blacks themselves. Although Southern Democrats are far less inclined to blame blacks than their GOP counterparts, they still blame blacks more by a ratio of 2.3-to-1, which is significantly less friendly to blacks than folks outside the white South are. In fact, Republicans outside the white South are almost as sympathetic to blacks as white Southern Democrats are: they blame blacks more by a ratio of 2.7-to-1.

Not only is the Democratic Party split between two dominant views — one in the white South blaming blacks more, the other outside it blaming discriminatory practices in white society more — the minority group within the party, white Southerners, is far more unified in its views.

In the white South, 42.4 percent blame blacks exclusively, compared to just 18.8 percent who blame discrimination, and 38.8 who blame both. That’s a lopsided 69/31 split between the two exclusive positions. Outside the white South, 27.7 percent blame blacks exclusively, 34.4 percent blame discrimination, and 37.9 percent blame both, a much narrower 45/55 split between the exclusive positions.
What was that again? I couldn't hear what you were saying over the dogwhistle.
posted by wuwei at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I am a lifelong Southerner with deep family roots in the region and I'm in no way trying to suggest all Southerners are bigots or more inclined toward bigotry than Northeners. What I'm suggesting is that aspects of the shared culture that developed in the South in response to historical circumstances may subtly work to reinforce attitudes and beliefs that encourage economic exploitation of people in general. We don't just treat low-level black people as disposable economic tools in the South. It's not about bigotry, per se, but the willingness to dehumanize anyone low enough on the socioeconomic order. And I don't think it's a very obvious or dramatic effect, but a very subtle one that relates to the way the culture colors economic issues.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


You want to know why the GOP does well in the South? How about asking southerners who vote GOP about why they do instead of speculating and assuming offensive motivations?

Well, the GOP voting southerners I have known tend to talk a lot (as in whether you ask them or not) about how poor black people are a bunch of lazy shiftless layabouts who don't have any initiative at all because they just expect the government to take care of them, and they're really, really upset that they have to work hard and pay taxes to support such undeserving people. I guess anecdotes aren't data, though.
posted by Naberius at 10:37 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


It is incredibly offensive and bigoted to imply that the 100 million+ people in the South are all racists and discussed if they are some strange, indecipherable anthropology object.

Pretty much all Americans are racists, but we have trouble discussing it because it's endemic to our atmosphere. It's kind of like trying to get a fish to explain water.

One of the things about the South and politics and religion and racism is that white people who fall on hard times and pull themselves up by their bootstraps (i.e., a little government help and maybe a lot of family help) is that (some) people see that as God testing them and them passing the test, or proving themselves worthy, or the outward signs of inward grace or whatever. When Other not-white People fall on hard times and don't recover as easily--frequently because of the consequences of systemic racism--that's a sign of their inherent worth and how they don't pass God's test and God doesn't love them as much. That's not a description of anybody's explicit theology, but a description of how people talk about the issues and how they frame economic outcomes as a measure of faith and/or morals.
posted by immlass at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Good luck getting funding to run as a Democrat unless you sign onto the ultraliberal culture war platform.

As far as I can tell, the best-funded Democrat is Kay R Hagen. She's pro-choice, but that's hardly an ultraliberal position -- so is Laura Bush. She believes gay marriage should be left up to the states, supported the Keystone XL pipeline, voted no on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets and yes on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains, voted yes on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps, supports increased border security and opposes amnesty. On the Issues identifies her as a "moderate liberal."

I know it's tempting to jump into these sorts of things with unresearched partisan talking points, but, honestly, that shit is terrible for conversation and terrible for America.
posted by maxsparber at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


lazy shiftless layabouts who don't have any initiative at all because they just expect the government to take care of them

This is such a theme in the comments under articles, that it's become a boring routine to encounter it, yet again, and again, and again. But. From time to time, you do learn something new - for example, I thought I already knew all the insulting names for Obama, such as Nobama, Obummer and countless variations. Well, recently I came across one from a GOP voter in LATimes, that combined an attack on the Obamas with the theme of lazy welfare cheats, and this was an article about the good work Michelle Obama was doing - after talking about the black welfare leeching democrats, he took a swipe at... new one for me: Moochelle.
posted by VikingSword at 10:46 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wrong. It's not the GOP's fault. It's the fault of the national Democratic Party becoming overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues and expecting the Southern Democrats of days past to follow suit. Good luck getting funding to run as a Democrat unless you sign onto the ultraliberal culture war platform.


'Culture war' is a Republican talking point.

Here's the difference between us and you:

We: believe people should have the right to live their lives as they wish to, without harming others

You: believe people should have the right to live their lives as they wish to, as long as it's the way of life you decide is okay for them

I'm queer. I have no interest in forcing you to be queer. I have a vested interest in you not treating me badly because I am queer. You can believe what you like but you don't get to force it on me. Your lot simply do not believe they don't get to force their way of life on others.

So... no, it's not the fault of the Democrats. I'm not surprised that you say it is, but in the world where we are congruent with facts and reality, you're wrong.

Check out what's happening in Mississippi.

Proving precisely what I just said.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2014 [33 favorites]


Moochelle

Oh har har, good one! (Slaps knee approvingly.)

Really, public comment threads are a thing of beauty - the whole toxic id exposed to public view behind the shield of anonymity, like you've turned over a particularly large rock in a damp part of the backyard.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:54 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's the fault of the national Democratic Party becoming overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues and expecting the Southern Democrats of days past to follow suit. Good luck getting funding to run as a Democrat unless you sign onto the ultraliberal culture war platform.

In other words, you are alleging that an "ultraliberal culture war platform" has caused southern Democrats to leave the party. Let's check with the historical record to see what "ultraliberal" piece of legislation may be responsible:
When he signed the [Civil Rights Act] he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come," he said.

—Former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers
"Ultraliberal culture war platform" = desegregated swimming pools
posted by compartment at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2014 [30 favorites]


My family (mostly Northern English/Scottish) has been in Louisiana/Mississippi since before the revolution. If you want to understand the psychology of the Southern white voter, read this. Though the book borders on hagiography, Senator Webb gets a lot overwhelmingly right.
posted by echocollate at 10:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


aka: Grownups crying about cooties.
posted by symbioid at 10:59 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]




My god! IT IS! Look at the rhetoric from assholes like Gohmert regarding Mexicans and "disease"... holy shit.
posted by symbioid at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Because, it must have happened in both, for that transposition to happen.

I don't think it's right to think of the parties as having transposed along a progressive/conservative axis. Rather, the ideologies we know today only gradually come online over the course of the 20th century. The "transposition" is the movement of southern whites over to the Republican party, but before the sleeping dog of the civil rights movement awakens, why would southern whites favor a relatively more corporatist/free-market party to a relatively more populist/collectivist one?
posted by batfish at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


lazy shiftless layabouts who don't have any initiative at all because they just expect the government to take care of them

This is such a theme in the comments under articles, that it's become a boring routine to encounter it, yet again, and again, and again.


I should note, by the way, that not all the people I'm talking about are isolated talk-radio echo-chamber dwellers who've never seen a real black person in their lives or anything. One was a school teacher who taught a class full of lower-income, mainly black, kids in the south. This was his opinion of his students.
posted by Naberius at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Uh, no. A greater proportion of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

You obviously didn't bother to read the data actually under discussion (emphasis mine):
In this case, it becomes clear that Democrats in the north and the south were more likely to vote for the bill than Republicans in the north and south respectively. This difference in both houses is statistically significant with over 95% confidence. It just so happened southerners made up a larger percentage of the Democratic than Republican caucus, which created the initial impression than Republicans were more in favor of the act.

Nearly 100% of Union state Democrats supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act compared to 85% of Republicans. None of the southern Republicans voted for the bill, while a small percentage of southern Democrats did.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:06 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Re: Gerrymandering - Republicans won 53% of House votes, and 77% of House seats, in North Carolina.

In Michigan, the Democrats won 51 percent of House votes and 36 percent of the seats.
posted by Etrigan at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Did we not even READ the "Whiteness" post a few days ago?
posted by symbioid at 11:11 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can someone please give a thumbnail sketch as to how it happened that the Republicans who were the "progressive" party back around the Civil War era became the party of conservatives, and the Democrats became the progressive party?

It didn't, because the Republicans were not ever the "progressive" party.

The easiest way to look at this is to look at dw-nominate scores that summarize voting patterns; the Democrats were to the left of the Whigs and then to the left of the Republicans who took over after the Whigs collapsed.

The Republicans were abolitionist, but just as an empirical matter abolitionism didn't map well onto a liberal/conservative dimension at the time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


What does it matter if they think you're not "real Americans"? Who does it hurt? How are you tangibly impacted?

Based on whether or not they thing you belong to their conception of nationhood, they will use the power of the state to deprive you of not only your rights but your life.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Re: Gerrymandering - Republicans won 53% of House votes, and 77% of House seats, in North Carolina.

If the Republicans were perfectly uniformly distributed across the districts, they would have won 100% of the seats.

Not saying that gerrymandering isn't a real problem, but in any winner-take-all system a small majority of voters will lead to a large majority of seats. Barack Obama won 55% of the votes but 100% of the presidencies.
posted by sf2147 at 11:18 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Aah Rou_Xenophobe - that's an excellent insight that really clarifies things. Now it's the second time I see the point that slavery was not a liberal/conservative thing politically - and my eyes are opened. Absolutely fascinating and quite counter-intuitive to me (how can a progressive be for slavery?!). And it not really being a flip makes it much more easier for me to understand. So Repubs were always conservative and Demos progressive - I had no idea. I guess I just assumed that well, Lincoln was a sort of progressive, and went from there.
posted by VikingSword at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2014


It is incredibly offensive and bigoted to imply that the 100 million+ people in the South are all racists

It is! Now find where this FPP asserts that, or find three comments that incontrovertibly assert that as opposed to speaking about general tendencies among southern whites.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


Additionally (and frankly unnecessarily), live and let live doesn't map that well onto what's happening with reproductive rights in this country. If a woman can be forced to have a caesarian section, or arrested for homicide because she dared to fall down the stairs while pregnant, I submit that this isn't exactly a live-and-let-live political philosophy at work.

It is, however, perfectly consistent with "We are better than you and we know better what to do with your body/money/time."
posted by suelac at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


[A bunch of comments deleted, please refresh before responding. Maybe we can raise the game in here and not just revert to generic "all you liberals are bad" vs "all you southerners are bad"; there's an actual article to respond to. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm truly fucking disgusted whenever I hear an alleged liberal make a Deliverance joke, or do a southern accent, or whatever.

I can't click "Favorite" because our websecurity has sort of broken MeFi's ability to load, but I wanted to support batfish on this. It is awful to make these jokes, because they are classist generalizations, and do not adequately represent the full scope of demographic and cultural variety in the South.

That said, appeals to "traditional Southern lifeways" still read to me as code for "the days when white men were on top", and the research on voting patterns and the rhetoric of many Southern politicians bears me out on this.
posted by suelac at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


It didn't, because the Republicans were not ever the "progressive" party.

The easiest way to look at this is to look at dw-nominate scores that summarize voting patterns; the Democrats were to the left of the Whigs on most issues and then to the left of the Republicans who took over after the Whigs collapsed.


It seems to me "left" and "right" need to be defined more clearly depending on the historical period. Just looking through wikipedia, the pre-Wilsonian, pre-FDR Democratic Party seems to be to the right of the Whigs on most issues except banking and business (depending on how you look at it.)

From Wikipedia:
The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian society. They viewed the central government as the enemy of individual liberty. The 1824 "corrupt bargain" had strengthened their suspicion of Washington politics…. Jacksonians feared the concentration of economic and political power. They believed that government intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to restore the independence of the individual--the artisan and the ordinary farmer--by ending federal support of banks and corporations and restricting the use of paper currency, which they distrusted.
The Whig Party
The Whigs celebrated Clay's vision of the "American System" that promoted rapid economic and industrial growth in the United States. Whigs demanded government support for a more modern, market-oriented economy, in which skill, expertise and bank credit would count for more than physical strength or land ownership. Whigs sought to promote faster industrialization through high tariffs, a business-oriented money supply based on a national bank and a vigorous program of government funded "internal improvements" (what we now call infrastructure projects), especially expansion of the road and canal systems. To modernize the inner America, the Whigs helped create public schools, private colleges, charities, and cultural institutions.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


aka: Grownups crying about cooties.

That is now my favorite metaphor for pretty much all social conservatism.
posted by Foosnark at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's stunning to me that the region of the United States with the highest religiosity, lowest levels of educational attainment and most checkered history of racial relations would respond approvingly to creeping conservative and religious authoritarianism.

And in particular to being told over and over and over again by radio hosts and newspaper editorials and bloggers and TV pundits and pastors and NRA presidents and country music and whatnot that THEY (where THEY is whichever member of the subset (African-Americans | Hispanics | Mexicans | homosexuals | liberals | intellectuals | entertainment industry figures | Muslims | atheists | socialists | Communist Party members | Sharia law advocates | the ACLU | Janet Jackson's nipple | other bastions of anti-Americanism ) is most appropriate to the subject at hand) are STEALING AWAY the money and power and jobs and whatnot that RIGHTFULLY belong to those who support the authoritarians du jour.

Saying that this authoritarian and Manichean message of class warfare resonates most strongly in the American South is not an indictment of the people who live there in and of themselves, but rather an indictment of the environments and echo chambers in which they live.
posted by delfin at 11:42 AM on November 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm truly fucking disgusted whenever I hear an alleged liberal make a Deliverance joke, or do a southern accent, or whatever.

Just as an aside, James Dickey, who wrote Deliverance, was a native of Georgia, and the four protagonists of the novel are all Georgians. The book and film are often used as shorthand for Northern fear of the South, but it's really about the city's fear of the wilderness, and the urban fear of the rural. We have northern examples of this as well, such as 1981's "Just Before Dawn," where the killers are in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

"Deliverance" jokes: Not just offensive, but also misinformed.
posted by maxsparber at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2014 [22 favorites]


The truth of the matter is that not all Southern Republicans are racist, or sexist, or whateverist.

However a significant portion of the Southern Republican base is offensively racists, sexist, homophobic, etc. By appealing to these voters often in the form of easily digested soundbites about a variety of socioeconomic and cultural values it's very easy to get a decent turnout among voters.

These voters have seen their historical privileges steadily eroded since the civil war as emancipation and enfranchisement of the African American population created a massive gulf between Southern Whites and Southern Blacks. A variety of strategies were of course created to disenfranchise black voters over the period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights era but basically Dixiecrats saw their traditional privilege disappearing in the Great Society and the rise of urban minority coalitions and abandoned the party in droves.

The Republican party has been glomming on to a variety of issues in the intervening decades to increase their vote percentages- Abortion was used as a tool as the evangelical population turned away from the previous policy of disengagement with secular politics to political activism, gay marriage was also a very good wedge issue until recently, affirmative action was always a great one as well. Throw in obvious dog whistles about welfare queens and you could get poor whites to vote against welfare etc.

Basically a not insignificant percentage of the entire US population will routinely vote Republican simply because they think that voting Democrat will mean that someone is getting something at their expense. There just happens to be enough of these voters that combined with the natural Republican base that they can dominate in the South and they can kick ass in elections where the only ones voting are angry old white males.

However the truth of the matter is that they are really only fighting a holding pattern as each successive generation gets less and less obsessed with maintain privilege over other populations.
posted by vuron at 11:50 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Foosnark: "aka: Grownups crying about cooties.

That is now my favorite metaphor for pretty much all social conservatism.
"

The Coo-tea Party?
posted by symbioid at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think one of the interesting things is how the explicit racism of post-Reconstruction all the way to the Civil Rights Era transmogrified into the more implicit racism of the Southern Strategy. Or even more than that, how racist-coded policies began to divorce themselves from that coding and became "conservative values".

I'm a bleeding heart, and while I'd like to think that the values I hold are ones I came to hold after rational consideration and living in the world, I was raised by two bleeding hearts. It's not like I've never talked to conservatives or Republicans, in either the Southern flavor or otherwise. For a lot of them, they don't think they are racist. They don't think their belief in the GOP model of bootstraps capitalism is based in racial animus. It simply makes sense, it's how things should be.

I feel like there are connections to be made from the prosperity gosepl to the modern day. If god rewards piety with monetary success, then those less fortunate are sinners and deserving of their punishment. Redistribution can then be seen as subverting god's will. And yeah, "those people" are the ones that are getting the redistribution. They're poor, not because we held in bondage them and their family going back generations, but because god does not favor them. We can't use the Curse of Ham as an excuse anymore, but we'll find something.
posted by X-Himy at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


One thing the Republicans understand better than anyone is how to get a large number of people with varying views to vote for them, even when they don't agree with everything their saying. They figured out that if you can find that one issue that really gets a person all riled up, you can get their vote regardless of what else you're offering. Satisfy enough of those issues, and you have a vast number of votes at your disposal.

So it's easy to understand why a particular Southern Republican might bristle at being called racist while at the same time voting for racist candidates and legislation. That's because in their mind, they're aren't voting for racist candidates and legislation, they're voting for "states rights" or "traditional values". Call it what you want, but don't deny how successful it has been.
posted by tommasz at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


However the truth of the matter is that they are really only fighting a holding pattern as each successive generation gets less and less obsessed with maintain privilege over other populations.

I wouldn't be so sure. The GOP seems to finally be adapting. I suspect they will change positions on gay marriage, pro-choice, legalization, and other social issuesas it becomes advantageous for them to do so. Their primary goal is to protect the corporatocracy and the "one percent."
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems to me "left" and "right" need to be defined more clearly depending on the historical period.

Nominate scores don't define them at all, actually.

What they technically say is that there's a chain of similar voting patterns between the Democrats of 1840 and the Democrats of today, and a chain of similar voting patterns between the Republicans of today, the Republicans of 1860, and the Whigs of 1840.

The idea that the thing that separates that consistently-voting pack of Democrats from the opposed consistently-voting pack of Whigs/Republicans is a general, broadly economic, left/right continuum comes from Keith trying to make sense of whose ideal points are where. As far as nominate is concerned, it's just the primary dimension of voting conflict.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Good advice that seems particularly relevant to the othering occurring here:
The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen....

You've also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that's left in its place is an argument that can never really be won... When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings... Anything as infinitely complex as life, reality, and the human experience can never be summed up or organized in a definitive system, especially one based on "left or right," "A or B," "us or them." This is the fatal flaw of binary thinking in general. However, this flaw isn't just ignored, it's also embraced, amplified, and deliberately used as a weapon on the very people who think it's benefiting their way of thinking.
And whatever happened to remembering not to dehumanize fellow man for in the end we are all alike:
“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link, is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's futures, and we are all mortal.”
posted by dios at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


The northern racists just don't know how to whistle as well.

Difference between north and south - covert racism vs overt racism.
posted by el io at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Keep burning that straw man, dios.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2014 [16 favorites]


The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently.

So what you're saying is there's us, the good guys, who don't think we're better than everyone else, and there's them, the bad guys, who think they're better than everyone else, and they're the ones who are destroying the world.

Let's get 'em!
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Good advice that seems particularly relevant to the othering occurring here

Right, and we had a whole thread about it. Seems many of us think that it's a load of bullocks, and we argued that at length, with many in-depth arguments. Not sure much more can be added to that, or that it throws any more light onto the current FPP than it did in the dim glow of its original context.
posted by VikingSword at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2014


-Southern Democrats: An Endangered Species
-Voter turnout decreased in 2014
-The Demographic Party
-American politics is descending into a meaningless, demographically driven seesaw

I'm not entirely convinced that Southrons are predestined to vote for economically conservative policies.

"So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then."

Gridlock Leads Voters Out of Washington: "Here's the big news from Tuesday's election: Faced with gridlock in Washington, more and more voters are turning to states and municipalities to do the work that the nation's capital seems increasingly unable to do."

Republicans now have historic majorities in state legislatures. That's a really big deal. "Republicans now control state government outright in at least 24 states, one more than they did before the election. They control at least 66 of 99 state legislative chambers nationwide. And they cut the number of states with total Democratic control from 14 to seven — the lowest number since the Civil War."

also btw, re: jacksonians, Obama Takes The War To Congress...

The easiest way to look at this is to look at dw-nominate scores that summarize voting patterns; the Democrats were to the left of the Whigs on most issues and then to the left of the Republicans who took over after the Whigs collapsed.

fwiw, here's kind of a famous timeline (one of those early examples of an 'infographic') from the Conspectus of the history of political parties and the federal government (1880) that might(!?) help explain things :P

oh and re: the 'one percent', "In 1986 the America's bottom 90% of families had 4x the wealth of the top 0.1%. Now the shares are the same."
posted by kliuless at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


When you propose kicking our area out of the country, what do you think should happen to those of us who do not support Republicans?

Amnesty. You can apply for a green card (filing fee of $1070) and citizenship five years later ($680) assuming you obey the law and visa numbers are available.


I know you think you're being funny, but I am from the south and, despite its problems, I like where I live. My mom's family is from Georgia and North Carolina as far back as we've been able to trace. My dad's dad's family is from the Carolinas going way back (he claims to have traced us to Scotland in the 1700s). His mom was from New Jersey, but she moved to North Carolina when she was a teenager.

None of us southern progressives, whether white, black, or brown, want to leave. We are southern every bit as much as the white Republicans who are trying to take over our states. We want to stay and make it better. You could help us. Or you could just make fun of us.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2014 [21 favorites]


I mean, that's the real problem. These secession ideas would only work if you let them secede by county, forming the most gerrymandered country that has ever been seen.
posted by corb at 12:36 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Wrong. It's not the GOP's fault. It's the fault of the national Democratic Party becoming overwhelmingly liberal on the culture war issues and expecting the Southern Democrats of days past to follow suit. Good luck getting funding to run as a Democrat unless you sign onto the ultraliberal culture war platform."

As a black Southern Democrat, to me, this sounds like "What ally can we throw under the bus to get those precious white working-class votes? How about one of our captive audience demographics, like the gays or the feminists?
posted by Selena777 at 12:40 PM on November 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


In the South as in the rest of the U.S., rural areas are deep red and urban areas are blue. It's that way all over the country. The difference is that the South is rural enough that Democrats aren't viable in statewide elections, whereas Oregon, where I live, is urban enough that Republicans are not viable statewide. Urban vs. Rural is a much more accurate model than North vs. South.
posted by chrchr at 12:41 PM on November 10, 2014 [15 favorites]


Whenever the refrain "My generation will be the first generation of Southerners that won't be prejudiced" comes up, as it does time and again in many forms, it's always interesting to see how quickly the claimant will then proceed to undermine their own assertion. In the case of Lee Atwater, it was pretty quick:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [a candidate] doesn't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. 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. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
Although by now this is probably the most shopworn contemporary example of dog-whistling politics, it will stop coming up when it stops being relevant.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:43 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


2008 county by county election results
posted by chrchr at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2014


Or even more than that, how racist-coded policies began to divorce themselves from that coding and became "conservative values".

I'm a bleeding heart, and while I'd like to think that the values I hold are ones I came to hold after rational consideration and living in the world, I was raised by two bleeding hearts. It's not like I've never talked to conservatives or Republicans, in either the Southern flavor or otherwise. For a lot of them, they don't think they are racist. They don't think their belief in the GOP model of bootstraps capitalism is based in racial animus. It simply makes sense, it's how things should be.


This is how it always was, though. No one wants to believe they are monsters. During actual slavery, whites told themselves that they were doing God's will, that black people had been rescued from savagery, that they were happy, that they were too feeble to take care of themselves, that their souls were saved by being enslaved so therefore their bodily suffering was unimportant. When other Christians took the opposite view, they were howled down viciously. Or worse.

I am from the South, but I ran into racism in New York City quite often, so while I am full of despair at the casual hatred all around me, I have no illusions that cutting us loose would end racism in the rest of the country. We are all one country, and our history is built on racism and exploitation, right down to the bloody roots. Until we confront and accept our responsibility for what our ancestors did (and we still do) we will not begin to get rid of this poison.

Betsy over at Tiny Cat Pants (who lives in TN and often writes about the erased contributions of slaves in building that city) had this to say lately:

And the thing is that we live in a community heavily shaped by slavery. Roads go where they go here in town because slaves literally put them there. The rock walls all over town were put there by slaves. The beautiful open spaces we have were often cleared by slaves. The old buildings we have were often built by them. But the undifferentiated “them” is nebulous. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still horrible. It’s something to stand along a stone wall and pick up one of those stones and feel how heavy it is and know that someone spent whole hard days putting those stones there and he had literally no other choice.

We walk on streets and meet in buildings that were built by slaves, every day, in this country. Not just in the South, by any means. And yet, do we ever ever acknowledge this truth? When we tell the story of how a place came to be, do we ever honor the slaves that built it, or grieve for the suffering they endured to build it?

Do we ever tell the story of the colonization of the West as "First, there was a tragic and heartless genocide against the people who already lived there"? No. But that is what happened.

We need something like what happened in Germany after the war; a Truth and Reconciliation approach. Our ancestors did these things. We benefit from them; the descendants of the people they hurt continue to be hurt by them.
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2014 [17 favorites]


As a black Southern Democrat, to me, this sounds like "What ally can we throw under the bus to get those precious white working-class votes? How about one of our captive audience demographics, like the gays or the feminists?

Really. I don't think it was a great idea for the Democratic Party to abandon Obama so much. Could the election have been more of a disaster, anyway? It almost seems like a betrayal to me. But whatever, I don't understand why Obama is so unpopular now to begin with. It seems to me it would have made more sense for Obama to push a few big initiatives - immigration reform, VA reform, and student loan reform perhaps, and gone out on the road with the Democrats to sell vision of America that they all believe in. At least they could be proud of what they were running for when they lost.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


In the South as in the rest of the U.S., rural areas are deep red and urban areas are blue. It's that way all over the country. The difference is that the South is rural enough that Democrats aren't viable in statewide elections, whereas Oregon, where I live, is urban enough that Republicans are not viable statewide. Urban vs. Rural is a much more accurate model than North vs. South.

But actually, if you look at the map you linked to above, even Urban vs. Rural is not sufficient. Look at the blue belt that runs from southeastern VA, through NC, SC, GA, AL, and MS all the way to the Mississippi valley. That is an incredibly poor, rural area. It just is also a majority black area, the so-called "Black Belt". (There is an argument about whether the name comes from the color of the beautiful, fertile soil or the color of the skin of the majority of the residents.)
posted by hydropsyche at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Obama's approval rating is not exceptionally low. He's at about 38%. Reagan was as low as 35%. Clinton was at 37%. George W. Bush dropped to 25% at one point. Obama's low approval ratings are basically a GOP talking point.
posted by chrchr at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


38% was from September. In October he was up to 47%.
posted by chrchr at 1:01 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


In the South as in the rest of the U.S., rural areas are deep red and urban areas are blue. It's that way all over the country. The difference is that the South is rural enough that Democrats aren't viable in statewide elections

No, urban/rural doesn't cut it. In addition to the rural black belt, the ex-Confederate south has a lot of counties that are predominantly-urban and that went for Romney.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe Obama's new Net Neutrality campaign is a sign that he's going to push forward on vision again, regardless who's in Congress?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:36 PM on November 10, 2014


Those counties are largely suburban and exurban though. There is almost always an Urban core city that was victim to white flight as white urbanites had to deal with desegregation.

Honestly it's still happening to a large degree as the older ring of suburbs becomes increasingly integrated and socioeconomic elites go either to private schools or wealthy exclusive neighborhoods because their schools are better. Restrictive covenants based upon race might no longer be the tool but new suburban master plan communities can become remarkably homogenous based upon average home price and disparate access to capital to buy into those neighborhoods.

In the urban core and older suburbs where some percentage of the white population cannot flee due to restricted funding you still see increased segregation in schools as people move to a variety of public school alternatives like home-schooling, charter schools, voucher programs. Parents might tell themselves that they aren't being racist and that they are doing it for the good of their kids but at the end of the day it's just perpetuating a racially divided past. Hell I'm an urban liberal who believes strongly in public education and I have my daughter in a private montessori because it's good for her long term prospects. I know I'm maintaining a structure of socio-economic and racial disparity and at the end of the day I'm still doing it. But I'm also not about to ask for vouchers to help pay for that private education because that would be even more actively undermining one of the few sources of upward advancement in our nation.
posted by vuron at 1:36 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]




chrchr, that study doesn't say if it controls for race, which I think is an important factor to ignore.
posted by X-Himy at 1:44 PM on November 10, 2014


The easiest way to look at this is to look at dw-nominate scores that summarize voting patterns; the Democrats were to the left of the Whigs and then to the left of the Republicans who took over after the Whigs collapsed.

I don't think you can use DW-NOMINATE scores like this. DW-NOMINATE is a two-dimension scale, but the first scale only really tells us about party-loyalty, it doesn't define a left-right axis except ex post. The second scale is much better for thinking through the issues around race which are being articulated here, as the second dimension reflects within-party differences that create schisms and realignments.

It's especially tough when you think about how to score the New Deal/Fair Deal legislation. For more on this, check out the work on the "Redlined New Deal," especially When Affirmative Action Was White.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:52 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


None of us southern progressives, whether white, black, or brown, want to leave. We are southern every bit as much as the white Republicans who are trying to take over our states. We want to stay and make it better.

As a Yankee, we acknowledge your fight and we support you. We suspect that the day will come when you may need to be airlifted out, and if so we will do our best when the time comes.

In the meantime, it bears remembering that just like there are Birchers in Vermont, the deep south can spawn the likes of Molly Ivins or John Henry Faulk. Sometimes, wherever you are, you have to work with what you have.
posted by delfin at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


My god! IT IS! Look at the rhetoric from assholes like Gohmert regarding Mexicans and "disease"... holy shit.


It is Louie Gohmert, though. Most days, they can barely keep him from eating his tie.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:03 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Eriko: Wow, thank you for that incredibly enlightening comment. When i read it i immediately thought of this discussion of the "polarization" of american politics, as if it were some monumental shift from "the good old ways" to "the bad new ways" but now I see that it's just a circling, swirling morass and where we like to confuse ourselves by drawing a new divide and acting like politicians have always seen things along those lines.
posted by rebent at 2:09 PM on November 10, 2014


Those counties are largely suburban and exurban though.

Suburban ain't rural. Only rural is rural.

Which Southern urban areas voted for Romney?

In Texas: Tarrant County, Collin County (Plano and various other Dallas suburbs), Neuces and San Patricio counties (Corpus Christi), whatever counties Midland/Odessa, Texarkana, Lubbock, and Amarillo are in.

In Mississippi: Harrison County (Biloxi)

In Alabama: Mobile County, Madison County (Huntsville)

In Florida: Duval County (Jacksonville) and Escambia County (Pensacola)

In South Carolina: Greenville County (Greenville-Spartanburg)

In North Carolina: Whichever coastal county Wilmington is in

In Virginia: Virginia Beach

In Tennessee: Knox County (Knoxville), Hamilton County (Chattanooga)

No doubt in many of these counties you could find that the city-proper voted for Obama. But the larger point is only that the increased ruralness of the south is not enough to explain why southern whites trend Republican, since the populations of those counties are predominantly not rural.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Rural is also becoming less-poor, in the dirt-farmer sense. Farms get bought up by conglomerates or fail, and rich city folk who want to play rancher move in, build giant houses on land they will never use, get an all-new camo wardrobe at Cabela's, set up a deer-corn stand, and go "hunting."

They use up precious groundwater and complain because there's nowhere to shop but Wal-Mart, and drive their giant dualies or SUVs to the nearest big town when they want to go out. Whereupon they might encounter brown people, or a liberal bumper sticker, and recoil in horror, counting their blessings that they moved out to a purer, more Christian, place. Next time, they'll probably just go camping with their church friends. Their kids go to private Christian schools set up just for them, and camp in the summer, and then off to Abilene Christian or A&M or Texas Tech when they graduate.

How do I know? My brother and his wife make their living building their giant, ugly-ass houses (not because my brother designs ugly houses for lack of skill; he's giving them exactly what they want. They then decorate with giant metal stars, put fake limestone on the exterior, and paint the word "Blessings" on the wall. The appliances are all huge. The furniture is in the "oversized faux ranch" style). My nephew makes his living running a summer Christian camp for their offspring. They were part of the early wave of immigration out there, so got established first.

They vote Republican, but not because they're rural; they became rural so they would never meet anyone who did not vote Republican.
posted by emjaybee at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2014 [24 favorites]


I'm pretty sure we must be related emjaybee because that sounds painfully close to the lifestyle of several extended family members. Oh wait there are entire subdivisions filled with people who have the same story throughout the suburban ring around every major southern city.
posted by vuron at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Really, about the only old NE GOP left in office that I can remember offhand is Olivia [sic] Snow in Maine... Olympia Snowe retired in 2013 and cited the dysfunction in Congress brought on by the new GOP as one of her main reasons.

eriko's point is still valid; he just got the wrong senator. Old NE GOP Susan Collins was just reelected for the third time in Maine.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:44 PM on November 10, 2014


(If no one minds me pulling in some straw bedding here...)

"When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings... Anything as infinitely complex as life, reality, and the human experience can never be summed up or organized in a definitive system, especially one based on "left or right," "A or B," "us or them."

They vote Republican, but not because they're rural; they became rural so they would never meet anyone who did not vote Republican.


I'd argue that there's a good amount of people who vote Republican who think that compromise is un-American, which I feel is the sort of thing that goes against the intentions of the Founding Fathers. They also happen to conveniently appeal to the historical/existing, often largely incorrect, image of the US, and attach a warm persona to that. There's this Republican philosophy of "if I can't have America, no one can." What I don't get is even after all the budgeting crises caused because Republicans refused to play, they've gained so much these past 3 elections.

If the parties weren't presented as so polarized, would the Republican party have been as successful?

(I'm probably putting that straw in my hair or something. Oops.)
posted by halifix at 5:40 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is Louie Gohmert, though. Most days, they can barely keep him from eating his tie.

To be fair, he has trouble with the whole Animal-Vegetable-Mineral thing.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:19 PM on November 10, 2014


A greater proportion of Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

This is basically the textbook example of Simpson's Paradox.

There were only 11 Republican Congressmen in the South in 1964. Ten were in the House, one was in the Senate. Not a single one cast a vote in favor of the CRA, as opposed to the Southern Democrats, who impressively racked up 8 votes in favor out of 107.

Outside the South, over 80% of Republican Congressmen voted in favor of the CRA, but over 90% of Democrats from those states did as well.

But yeah, this was less of a partisan issue and much more of a regional issue.
posted by leopard at 6:58 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Look at the blue belt that runs from southeastern VA, through NC, SC, GA, AL, and MS all the way to the Mississippi valley. That is an incredibly poor, rural area. It just is also a majority black area, the so-called "Black Belt". (There is an argument about whether the name comes from the color of the beautiful, fertile soil or the color of the skin of the majority of the residents.)

It comes from the shoreline of North America during the Cretaceous Period, which led to rich soil, which led to cotton production, which led to slavery, which led to a crescent of African-American population, which led to election results in 2008, 2012, and other years.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:18 PM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Southern Realignment happened when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, all the Southern Democrats became Republicans.

It started when Truman established the President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 and desegregated the armed forces in 1948. The Democratic Party adopted a civil rights platform at their 1948 convention and the "Dixiecrats" (States' Rights Democratic Party) split and nominated Strom Thurmond. The Dixiecrats won Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, all Deep South Confederate states.

This was the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" election. The Dixiecrats almost cost Truman a second term.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:39 PM on November 10, 2014


To be fair, Dewey was a fairly progressive Republican who as governor of New York put through the first state law in the country that prohibited racial discrimination in employment.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:12 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


hydropsyche: "None of us southern progressives, whether white, black, or brown, want to leave. We are southern every bit as much as the white Republicans who are trying to take over our states. We want to stay and make it better."

I used to think this. I am aggressively liberal and a native Texan. After decades of figuratively and sometimes literally beating my head against the way, my family and I decamped to Seattle. I'm the only person in my family tree in the past 150 years to have lived outside of Texas or Oklahoma. We couldn't be happier, especially knowing now that, had we stayed, we'd be governed by two people even more out there than Rick Perry.

I miss my home, I go back often, but I won't live and pay resident taxes there any more. Looking at the number of Texans moving up here, I'm not alone.

What's my point? I envy you the good fight but I can't do it.
posted by fireoyster at 12:07 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


fireoyster, I'll see your move to the Pacific Northwest and raise you leaving America entirely
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:49 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, the GOP voting southerners I have known tend to talk a lot (as in whether you ask them or not) about how poor black people are a bunch of lazy shiftless layabouts who don't have any initiative at all because they just expect the government to take care of them, and they're really, really upset that they have to work hard and pay taxes to support such undeserving people.

As a blue state resident my taxes subsidize the red states and they take more from the government than they contribute, while simultaneously complaining about high taxes and big government.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:59 AM on November 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


None of us southern progressives, whether white, black, or brown, want to leave. We are southern every bit as much as the white Republicans who are trying to take over our states. We want to stay and make it better.

I am similarly living in a completely Republican-controlled area (though diagonally across the country from the south) and one of the things that is interesting here is how since the Democrats are totally marginalized locally*, all the ideological diversity is internal to the Republican party and happens long before the general election. I have considered registering Republican (ugh!) just to have better access to that internal competition.

I've made my peace with it because this is where I live and work (and my family has been here for generations), and also because it's not like the urban-based Democratic party that largely runs things at the state level is particularly good at representing my interests either.

* The frustrating part of that is how much is self-marginalization, rather than running serious candidates who succeed in finding progressive paths to winning rural votes. There are good contemporary examples of how to do that in the rural west; there is no substantive reason that Oregon and Washington need to be vast swaths of red except for a couple of blue metro areas.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:01 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cheer up, people. Here's a strangely realistic take on the 2014 election from a conservative (!) : GOPlifer: The missing story of the 2014 election

Actually I kinda fear for this guy's safety. GOPers don't usually take to kindly to talking about reality and data and facts and all that stuff.
posted by fungible at 7:46 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


they take more from the government than they contribute, while simultaneously complaining about high taxes and big government.

That doesn't mean they want to. A lot of them would like to eliminate social service programs that they're mandated to keep running currently and that currently drive costs way up.
posted by corb at 7:48 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


A lot of them would like to eliminate social service programs

My mother lives in a senior living center in Round Rock (suburban Austin, highly conservative) and these are her dormmates, as it were. They are the people who want to get the government out of their Medicare.
posted by immlass at 8:09 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Cheer up, people. Here's a strangely realistic take on the 2014 election from a conservative (!) : GOPlifer: The missing story of the 2014 election


This really gets my hopes up! Also, while the article is spot on about Texas' crazy-ass politics, it is woefully inaccurate regarding the economy. Texas is a powerhouse, both literally and figuratively and while falling oil prices may create some strain, its not going hurt Texas as much as it would Nigeria or Iran.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:53 AM on November 11, 2014


That doesn't mean they want to.

I think they very much want to. They just don't want to pay for it. They want someone else to pay for it.

Which is why Ryan's plan had young people subsidizing Medicare for the old (i.e. GOP voters) while eliminating any possibility for the under 50's getting it when they were elderly. Which is why the idiot Republican governor of my state bolstered the state budget, gutted by a tax cut which almost entirely rewarded the wealthy, with a sales tax which would hit the poorest the hardest. Or why Wal-Mart demands many services given for free, and depends on many of their workers getting some sort of aid, while doing everything they can to avoid paying much in local or national taxes.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:00 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some days I just feel dazed by the combination of willful ignorance + hatred + short-sightedness that drives so many. Was it the fiction of imminent Rapture that made so many decide that the future was un-saveable, so the best thing to do is grab it all now and kick down anyone who gets in your way? Never mind your kids and grandkids, they will only have to put up with poisoned air for a few years till Jesus comes back? Does no one on the right care about their own families anymore, about their ability to thrive and survive in the world we are making? When Grandma rails against programs to help out students with crushing loans, why doesn't she remember that her own grandson is graduating in a year into a shitty job market with crushing debt on his shoulders?

It's not even tribalism, it's religious mania, or group hypnosis. Should we call it "Christian nihilistic capitalism"? I don't know. It's some flavor of insanity that I can't put my finger on.
posted by emjaybee at 9:16 AM on November 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Does no one on the right care about their own families anymore, about their ability to thrive and survive in the world we are making?

This question ignores a lot of pre-existing factors that I think you may not be aware of.

People don't identify in terms of "the people of my state." They identify in terms of people like them. Small town America doesn't identify with city dwellers. Nor, for that matter, does much of suburbia.

If we were to eliminate, in one fell swoop, the majority of non-contributory social service programs, some people would in fact be utterly devastated. There is a minority of people who rely on those very expensive programs to a strong degree. But the people who are relying on those programs are generally not contributing very much in taxes - certainly not as much as they are receiving. And they are receiving a lot. Sure, TANF isn't that much - but Section 8 and Medicaid costs, or special education costs, are. There's a lot of talk about how "Walmart couldn't afford to hire workers without government benefits", but that's not true. In any sort of mass desperation, there will always be those willing to work even for "not enough." Even the Walmart workers, sans government benefits, would not be so poorly paid that they would literally starve to death. Miserable, awful existences, sure - but not dying in large enough numbers to impact the bottom line.

Cold, hard calculus would reveal that cutting those programs would increase the chances of her own grandson. More tax money would go to programs that he has a chance of using. If education costs for the lowest achieving/special education were removed, the schools as a whole would have a lot more money for extra programs, for example.

Most of the people who are more conservative have enough of a family structure that they can actually survive without government assistance. They don't always - some of them certainly do take it - but when the majority of your family is at least kind of okay, it's a lot easier to make do for those who are falling. Those are not the people who are going to be affected by poverty programs to the same extent as those whose structural poverty means most of their support network has nothing to offer.
posted by corb at 10:55 AM on November 11, 2014


Some days I just feel dazed by the combination of willful ignorance + hatred + short-sightedness that drives so many.

From the rest of your comment, I take it you are on the left.

Interestingly, I hear the same sentiment coming from people I know on the right.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


corb: Most of the people who are more conservative have enough of a family structure that they can actually survive without government assistance.

Horseshit:
Government transfer payments comprise a sizeable share of personal income for both nonmetro and metro communities. Transfer payments to individuals accounted for 23.9 percent of total nonmetro personal income and 15.7 percent of metro personal income in 2012. [...] Per capita, in 2012 nonmetro residents received more government transfers ($8,460) than metro residents ($7,110).
Your "small town America" can't get enough of those government benefits, "family structure" or not. And, lest you try to make distinctions between so-called "earned" benefits like Social Security and Medicare versus income support, the interactive map on this page lets you drill down to just the "income support" category, confirming that rural America draws more than their share of those benefits as well.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


They probably have to rely more on outright transfers because they don't get the benefit of the public infrastructure and services provided in more urban communities.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:14 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Americans tend to forget how accidental the Republicans converting the South was.

Sure, FDR made inroads with Pennsylvania Black voters. But he made in roads with everyone. It was Truman who really listened to his campaign advisor and made courting black voters a priority.

Even afterwards, Martin Luther King Jr supported Ike in '56 because he liked Nixon's views on civil rights. In 1962, Nixon was still hoping to that Republicans would be the party to successfully push civil rights. He was worried that Goldwater's success would make Republicans an all-white party. And indeed, when the Civil Rights Act passed, Republicans had to switch gears and court the racist vote. It was the only logical path to the White House.

I find it strange that MLK Jr felt he could work with Lyndon B Johnson. I'm not sure I would have seen the point. He was a bully who ultimately decided to only care about black voters because it would create a Legacy for himself.

I always wonder what the South would look like, if Democrats had the ability to support Johnson and Wallace. Wallace was for education and programs to reduce poverty. But that agenda went out the window when it was required to also support racial equality. And the next generation grew up only knowing the Reagan agenda, because it suited their parents racism.

I think it's possible for Republicans to pivot in the next twenty years. I'm not sure they will. But we forget how unlikely it was for Democrats to shake off their Dixiecrat past. Even if it has affects that the Democrats still feel today.
posted by politikitty at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman: They probably have to rely more on outright transfers because they don't get the benefit of the public infrastructure and services provided in more urban communities.

Well, housing tends to be a lot cheaper in rural areas, and given how housing is usually the largest component of household spending, I don't see how cost of living advantages don't dwarf the advantages of municipal services, etc.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:26 PM on November 11, 2014


It was an enormous advantage back when fossil fuels (gasoline and propane being the biggies for rural folks) were less expensive. These days, less so. Trash hauling service is something else I found expensive now that it is illegal to burn or dump in a lot of places.

That said, you'd be surprised how many people have subsidized USDA housing loans in rural areas, which definitely helps keep housing inexpensive despite the increased cost of energy.
posted by wierdo at 4:05 PM on November 11, 2014


Sure, FDR made inroads with Pennsylvania Black voters. But he made in roads with everyone.

Not Vermont.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:19 PM on November 11, 2014


But he did make inroads in Vermont! In 1928, the Dem candidate won 33% of the vote. FDR won 41, 43, 45, 43% of the vote each election. In 1948, the Dem candidate once again got 36% of the vote.
posted by politikitty at 4:36 PM on November 11, 2014


Good point, tonycpsu.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:36 PM on November 11, 2014


Wow, so many responses! Hope I'm not repeating any, but - it's the economies. The South was ideal for agriculture, and the plantation system that maximized it was dependent on rigid hierarchy, on Code rather than (New England) Conscience, and quieting any critical or independent thinking. Results - ancestor worship, veneration of place and heirlooms, negative bonding against "outsiders" or anything novel or challenging. Classical literature that preserved the stasis that preserved the status quo. Not necessarily bad tendencies in theory, but got out of hand, like kudzu vines.

Whereas in the North, an economy based on commerce and trade meant that people needed to be curious, energetic, show initiative, be ready to deal with whomever might come along - to reach outside the familiar in search of the next hidden opportunity. This does not mean they were more broad-minded - just that in these more varied, less fertile lands, self-interest required other strategies and, eventually, a different culture and mindset. More inclined to change and open to risk, than averse.
posted by mmiddle at 4:53 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


(I will add,, though, that you're much likelier to go into long term debt at some point if yr on a septic tank, as we learned the hard way a few years back.)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:33 PM on November 11, 2014


Another interesting point from another thread suggests that white Americans are more likely, overall, to vote Republican. In which case one wonders if it's not about the South at all. And also I suppose that's another explanation for a lot of the anger - if white voters have been consistently voting in Republicans for the last forty years, but the minority votes are what tip the elections over to the Democratic side, then white voters aren't just paranoid if they think that minority voters are making things harder for them. It's two entirely different Americas voting for two entirely different visions.
posted by corb at 4:33 PM on November 12, 2014


white voters aren't just paranoid if they think that minority voters are making things harder for them.

You are assuming here that it's a zero-sum game, where advantages for minorities automatically mean DIS-advantages for white people.

And if that's NOT the case, if a rising tide can lift all boats, then yes, they are being paranoid.

Because they have been taught to be paranoid.

By racism.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes. One of those Americas is racist.

See if you can guess which one it is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:47 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are assuming here that it's a zero-sum game, where advantages for minorities automatically mean DIS-advantages for white people.

I mean, to a certain extent, isn't this what people are fighting for, though? Dismantling of white privilege, if successful, means that white people are actually losing real, tangible things. Even if they're losing them in the name of justice, they're still losing them. They're losing political power, they're losing likelihood of being hired, they're losing buying power and quality of schools. The things they are gaining are all intangibles - you can't eat "fairness" or "a more perfect democracy."
posted by corb at 6:20 AM on November 13, 2014


What is your angle here? You're not exactly breaking new ground by pointing out that privileged groups don't like losing their privilege. Are you also saying that their anger is justified, because they have a right to remain privileged?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:40 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


What I'm saying is that I think people sometimes tend to get sloppy with their criticisms. They see, for example, people not supporting programs that will benefit minorities, and they sometimes think it's because of racism - that the people just don't like black or Hispanic people and are willing to irrationally shoot themselves in the foot in order to screw those communities over. And so they tailor their actions around the fact that these groups of voters are irredeemably racist, rather than around the fact that people don't like losing things. They act as though people are voting against their own interests just because they have racist feels, when in fact in many cases they are rational actors, seeking to preserve a standard of life, with generally classist rather than racist feels.

I suppose my other argument would be that if people really wanted to appeal to those voters, they need to figure out ways that they aren't reducing the standard of living of one group of people in order to raise another group up. If the rising tide really did lift all boats, rather than try to lift all boats to the same level, I think you'd see more people getting on board.

Let people have more localized government, and I think you'll see a lot of anger at "the other" go down, because they'll be able to make their own rules and live by them, while not inflicting them on outside people. Raise everyone up without affecting the relative levels, and people will cheer it on.

I guess what I'm saying is it doesn't have to be as contentious as it is.
posted by corb at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2014


Losing quality of schools? What?

Raise everyone up without affecting the relative levels, and people will cheer it on.

..this doesn't change anything. If you get a mansion and I get a bungalow, and there are barriers to my movement, that's not really much better--in terms of equality--if you have a bungalow and I have a shack.

Equality is absolutely a tangible thing, because it expresses as tangible things: equal access to good schooling, to political power, etc.

And so they tailor their actions around the fact that these groups of voters are irredeemably racist, rather than around the fact that people don't like losing things

Yes, they don't like losing the privilege they possess due to racism. I believe the best response to that is"Aww, diddums."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:25 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Besides, it's been shown in more than one study that white people are often onboard when it comes to benefit programs--right up to the point where you advertise those programs with pictures of minorities. Support plummets when that happens.

I'd be interested in hearing a plausible real-world explanation for that which doesn't include racism.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you get a mansion and I get a bungalow, and there are barriers to my movement, that's not really much better--in terms of equality--if you have a bungalow and I have a shack.

Sure, it's not better in terms of "equality", but are you really telling me you wouldn't think the previous shack-dwellers are better off in the bungalow?
posted by corb at 10:04 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, of course not, but equality doesn't belong in scare quotes. Privilege is a problem. Privilege is based on racism and sexism. Increasing the privileged class' privilege while increasing the unprivileged by the same proportion does nothing to address the actual problems. "Oh but you have a nicer house now" is "well you're not slaves anymore so racism is obviously dead."

Still interested in hearing an explanation about support for benefits. Also interested in hearing how schools are made worse by ensuring the non-privileged gain access.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:14 AM on November 13, 2014


The schools bit is actually fairly straightforward - schools are generally funded by property tax, which means there is a finite amount of funding, with a not-finite amount of children. The African-American community in particular has some structural problems of poverty, which means by and large, the property tax returns are not high. When integrated schools were forced, by busing or otherwise, it meant either more children for the good schools, or children being bused to the bad schools. "Good" and "Bad" here meaning "well funded" versus "poorly funded."
posted by corb at 10:28 AM on November 13, 2014


So the solution is to fix school funding. Somehow that never seems to translate into poorer schools, which are so often schools with a majority population of minorities, getting better funding and better teachers. Racism.

Whites don't support benefits programs when advertised with minorities pictured. Racism.

Whites don't want to lose white-entrenched political power. Racism.

Whites don't want to lose unfair access to job markets. Racism.

By definition, wanting to retain white hegemony is racism, even with an air of nobless oblige that gives shack-dwellers bungalows while the formerly-bungalowed move into mansions.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 AM on November 13, 2014


"The African-American community in particular has some structural problems of poverty"

Ah how lovingly passive.
posted by symbioid at 10:38 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean, I could go into how those problems got there but I figured everyone was already aware since it's pretty simple if overwhelming- if you would like, I'm happy to make a treatise.
posted by corb at 10:48 AM on November 13, 2014


[No. No, do not write a treatise about a subject barely tangentially related to the topic of the thread. Thank you. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2014


white voters have been consistently voting in Republicans for the last forty years, but the minority votes are what tip the elections over to the Democratic side, then white voters aren't just paranoid if they think that minority voters are making things harder for them. It's two entirely different Americas voting for two entirely different visions.

Men have also been consistently voting Republican over the last forty years, but women are what tip the elections over to the Democrats. Men aren't just paranoid if they think women voters are making things harder for them. It's two entirely different Americas voting for two entirely different visions.

I suppose my other argument would be that if people really wanted to appeal to those voters, they need to figure out ways that they aren't reducing the standard of living of one group of people in order to raise another group up.


And they need to figure out a way to improve the standard of living for women without reducing the standard of living for women I suppose.

/hamburger
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:03 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


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