Party Like It’s 1949

For South, A Waning Hold on National Politics in today’s NY Times, and the excellent accompanying interactive graphic, provide more data on the marginalization of the Republican party.  Obama’s victory without support of the deep south marks the end of 36 years of the Southern Strategy pioneered in Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign.  A Democrat victory without monolithic southern support diminishes the importance of the red-state south in national politics “for some time to come.”  The parts of the south that “have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years” went for Obama.  The article goes on to say:

Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter . . . Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.

Continued Republican focus on these voters has the effect of “alienating voters elsewhere.”

The article goes on to look at Alabama and the impact of race on its white voters. It quotes an historian from the University of Alabama, who says “Alabama, unfortunately, continues to remain shackled to the bonds of yesterday.”  Lest there be any doubt the article visits Vernon, Alabama, “the small, struggling seat of Lamar County on the Mississippi border.”  They turned out in greater numbers for McCain than for Bush in 2004 because “any time you have someone elected president of the United States with a Muslim name, whether they are white or black, there are some very unsettling things.”  A city employee stated that anyone who is not upset that Obama was elected “needs to be at the altar” because his election is offensive to “Christian folks.”  One white resident is concerned about a black man “over me” in the White House.  Another said ““I think there are going to be outbreaks from blacks . . . From where I’m from, this is going to give them the right to be more aggressive.”

Vernon, Alabama:  The Land that Time Forgot.  This is the future of the Republican Party?

5 thoughts on “Party Like It’s 1949”

  1. Coming from an Independent hispanic…

    I find it really sad that people have this way of thinking in this great country. Whether it is immaturity of our nation, lack or education, racism, ignorance, or whatever you want to call it I am still optimistic. Call me naive but through perseverance and a a new edge on the Republican part’s strategy I see things differently. Take Piyush “Bobby” Jindal Governor of Louisiana, his name is Piyush Jindal, he is not white, and he is the governor of Louisiana. Enough said.

  2. Frankly, I’m glad that the South is losing its hold on national politics. I grew up thinking, and learning, that America is a great melting pot and that as long as you work hard, you can achieve anything regardless of your race/ethnicity, gender, etc. For me, Obama restores that childhood faith that I had in America. I can understand if someone is apprehensive of Obama because they disagree with his policies, but to be apprehensive of Obama because he’s black and has a Muslim name is still somewhat mindblowing to me. I’ve always known that racism, particularly in the South, is still very much alive, but I was still shocked by the reasons some people have stated for not voting for Obama. I was also shocked by the fact that the people who were interviewed for the article didn’t seem to see anything wrong with being racist; they stated their opinions of Obama quite bluntly. If the Bradley effect occurred and Obama were to have lost just because of his race, I would’ve been disillusioned.

    This reminds me of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama and his response to the Obama muslim smear: “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.” It was one of the best things I heard during the entire campaign. People really were too busy arguing back and forth about whether he’s a Muslim or not and couldn’t see the bigger picture that it shouldn’t matter.

  3. I second Techie’s comment about the proper response to statements that Obama is Muslim. It shouldn’t matter, but the climate of fear that’s been fostered since 9/11 interferes with rational analysis. As I said today in another context, people do not do their best thinking when they are afraid. Few decisions nurtured by fear prove to be right in the long run.

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