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Fri Dec 11, 2015, 04:29 PM

How the Bitter White Minority in the South Ended Up With Huge Power in Washington

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-bitter-white-minority-south-ended-huge-power-washington

Donald Trump’s recent failed attempt to surprise the political world with a sizable group endorsement by black ministers occasioned a very sharp observation from Joy Reid on The Last Word. After Jonathan Allen noted that Trump was desperately looking for “a racial or ethnic or any other type of minority that he can go to and not already have basically poisoned the well,” Reid helpfully clarified the why of it all: “Republican primary, that’s not about black and Latin voters, because there really aren’t any in the Republican primary,” Reid said. “That’s about white suburban voters who want permission to go with Donald Trump.”

Trump’s situation is anything but unique—it’s just a bit more raw than it is with other Republicans. Ever since the 1960s, as Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy was being born, there’s been a ongoing dilemma (if not huge contradiction) for the erstwhile “Party of Lincoln” to manage: how to pander just enough to get the racist votes they need, without making it too difficult to deny that’s precisely what they’re doing.

There are a multitude of cover stories involved in facilitating this two-faced strategy, but one of the big-picture ways it gets covered is with a blanket denial: It wasn’t Nixon’s race-based Southern Strategy that got the GOP its current hammerlock on the South, it was something else entirely. Say, the South’s growing affluence, perhaps, or its “principled small-government conservatism,” or the increased “leftism” of the Democratic Party on “social issues”—anything, really, except racial animus. Anything but that. (It’s akin to the widespread beliefs that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery, or that the Confederate flag is just a symbol of “Southern pride.”)

Most who make such arguments are simply mired in denial, or worse, but there are several lines of argument seemingly based on objective data in the academic literature. But a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper that Sean McElwee recently referred to should put an end to all that.

“Why did the Democrats Lose the South? Bringing New Data to an Old Debate,” by Ilyana Kuziemko and Ebonya Washington, does three key things: First, it uses previously overlooked data—matching presidential approval against media coverage linking President Kennedy to civil rights—to shed light on a key transition period—broadly, from 1961-1963, narrowly, the spring of 1963—when the Democratic Party clearly emerged as the party of civil rights. Second, it uses another new source of data—responses to the “black president question” (first asked by Gallup in 1958), whether someone would support a black (originally “negro”) candidate for president, if nominated by their party—as a measure of “racial conservatism” to analyze the contrast between the pre- and post-transition periods.

As McElwee reported, the paper “find[s] that racism can explain almost all of the decline of Southern white support for Democrats between 1958 and 2000.” Indeed, it explains all of the decline from 1958 to 1980, and 77% of the decline through 2000. (The authors prefer the 1958-1980 time-frame, since Jesse Jackson’s candidacy in 1984 and 1988 “may have transformed the black president item from a hypothetical question to a referendum on a particular individual.”) Third, the paper looks at the other explanations—the cover stories—and finds they have only a marginal impact, at best. (Although its focus is Southern realignment away from the Democratic Party, the GOP has obviously been gaining strength at the same time as a direct result.) It also sheds light on an early phase of dealignment, starting when Truman first came out for civil rights in 1948, leading to the Dixiecrat revolt.

As McElwee reported, the paper “find[s] that racism can explain almost all of the decline of Southern white support for Democrats between 1958 and 2000.” Indeed, it explains all of the decline from 1958 to 1980, and 77% of the decline through 2000. (The authors prefer the 1958-1980 time-frame, since Jesse Jackson’s candidacy in 1984 and 1988 “may have transformed the black president item from a hypothetical question to a referendum on a particular individual.”) Third, the paper looks at the other explanations—the cover stories—and finds they have only a marginal impact, at best. (Although its focus is Southern realignment away from the Democratic Party, the GOP has obviously been gaining strength at the same time as a direct result.) It also sheds light on an early phase of dealignment, starting when Truman first came out for civil rights in 1948, leading to the Dixiecrat revolt.

Before turning to the paper itself, I want to recall a point I made last year: so-called “principled conservatism” is itself heavily determined by anti-black attitudes. Southern racial conservatives had been closely tied to the Democratic Party for generations before Truman came out for civil rights in 1948, but the 1960s stand out as a decisive turning point. Among other things, I pointed out (a) that George Wallace himself had disavowed explicit racism by the end of 1963, turning to a classic articulation of anti-government/anti-“elite” conservative themes, (b) that there are both international and U.S. data showing that welfare state support declines as minority populations increase, and (c) that even attitudes related to spending to fight global warming are strongly influenced by anti-black stereotypes.

With all that in mind, there’s no reason at all to assume that any form of conservatism in America can be separated from white supremacism. We can pretend otherwise for the sake of running thought experiments, data-analysis, etc. and there can be some value is doing this—or I wouldn’t find this paper so important. But we should never forget the larger reality: we are not operating in blank-slate situation, where all hypothesis may be considered equally, in abstract purity. White supremacy is the default condition for everything in America, only the strength and salience of its impact varies from situation to situation.

Keeping all that in mind, let’s now turn to the important lessons this new paper has to tell us. As I said, it does three key things—sheds light on the 1961-1963 transition period, contrasts the pre- and post-transition periods to show the overwhelming impact of race, and examines other explanations, finding their impacts to be marginal, at best. The second of these is key, but is only possible as a result of identifying the transition point, which is crucial to making sense of everything else—both the central role of race, as well as the relative insignificance of other factors.

Keeping all that in mind, let’s now turn to the important lessons this new paper has to tell us. As I said, it does three key things—sheds light on the 1961-1963 transition period, contrasts the pre- and post-transition periods to show the overwhelming impact of race, and examines other explanations, finding their impacts to be marginal, at best. The second of these is key, but is only possible as a result of identifying the transition point, which is crucial to making sense of everything else—both the central role of race, as well as the relative insignificance of other factors.

more at link . . .

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Reply How the Bitter White Minority in the South Ended Up With Huge Power in Washington (Original post)
fleur-de-lisa Dec 2015 OP
leveymg Dec 2015 #1
starroute Dec 2015 #2
nomorenomore08 Dec 2015 #4
happyslug Dec 2015 #3
fleur-de-lisa Dec 2015 #6
happyslug Dec 2015 #8
davidn3600 Dec 2015 #5
fleur-de-lisa Dec 2015 #7

Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Fri Dec 11, 2015, 04:33 PM

1. Trump=Southern Strategy 2.0. Keep the racist white mob engaged. That's plausible.

And all this time I thought he was just a perverse performance artist proving how extreme and unattractive the GOP base really is.

In the end, they always destroy their heroes, anyway.

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Fri Dec 11, 2015, 10:03 PM

2. So even climate change denial is based in racism?

That's fascinating and it could explain why it's such a uniquely US phenomenon.

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Response to starroute (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 03:00 AM

4. It also helps explain why our social safety net is a joke compared to most "developed" countries. nt

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 01:34 AM

3. In college I read two books on the westward movement.

 

Both books were by the same author, but one was on the movement west, north of the Mason-Dixon line and Ohio River and the other on the movement west south of those points.

The key difference was who moved west and how. In the North the movement was from Puritan New England and to a lesser extent New York and Pennsylvania. Those settlers were looking for general farmland for wheat and corn corps. The first thing thet did when they moved into an area was to build a church, but the church was less religious then a general meeting place. In fact it was common practice for two christian denominations to share the same church and to hold meetings in that church that anyone could go to. In some places these churches were called community buildings, a name used in rural New England for rural town churches.

One of the key to the northern love west was the concentration on community more then the individual. You had parks, decent roads and other improvements that made the towns formed by such northerns nicer places to live. This is the area where you have barn raising parties, as neighbors came together to help one of they own build a new barn. Remember the barn was larger and more important then the house for such farmers.

The militia started out as a tight net group but quickly dissolved once the threat from Native Americans disappeared. As long as there was a Native American threat, the Northern Militia had a good military reputation. Once that threat was gone, the Northern Militia tended to decline rapidly. The militia was generally connected with the local church, even if the members of the militia were not if the church. In many small towns in the mid west the militia met on the town square, where the church was located. Other churches tended to be also located on the same square. The Catholic church tends NOT to be on the square for the simple reason Catholics tended to move to such towns long after they were settled.

On the other hand when it came to the South, separation of church and state was supreme. In the movement west, in the South, the first building built tended to be a taveran, to make money. The movement west was to get land to raise cotton and that included buying slaves. Helping a neighbor was a foreign thought to the people in that movement. Watching slaves so they do not escape was part of the movement. Chuches tend to be far away from the center of town, taverns tend to dominate the town centers. Very little local improvements. Even in the 1800s the differences in town settled by Northerns were starkly different from towns settled by Southerns. This was even true of towns where Northerns settled towns south of towns settled by Southerners. This is seen in southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and the whole state of Kentucky.

The Southern Militia, unlike the Northern Militia, had a bad military reputation for the main purpose of the Militia in the South was to stand guard at intersections to check on any African Americans who passed that intersection had permission of their owner or if a Freedman, was not involved in helping slaves escape. Thus had little actual military training (unlike Northern Militia who tended to drill In military manners on the town Square). So do to this tendency to be more guard organization then a military unit the Southern Militia had little military training, but instead developed a reputation as killers. When on "Patrol" these militiamen could beatu anyone they came in contact with, up to and including killing anyone. The state paid for any slave so killed, but it was beleived necessary to prevent slave revolts.

The above difference between the the Militia of the South and North shows a major difference between the North and South. The North concentrated on community activities, which included military preparation when there was a military threat. The South on how to make money including keeping the slaves from running away. Thus the Southern Militia stay active till the Civil War.

This settlement still affect the American South and North. In the North you see more support for community, in the South, how to keep African Americans "in they place". That was a Southern characteristic by 1700, and was carried westward and made more severe. It should have ended with the abolishment of slavery, but survived and expanded during segregation. Thus still alive and well to this day. Thus this view of African Americans by white Southerns survives to this day.


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Response to happyslug (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 12:28 PM

6. That's fascinating!

I've lived in the south my whole life (AL, MS, TN, NC, VA, and now New Orleans). Your analysis of the south being 'every man for himself' is spot on, even now. Probably more so now. The rednecks have gotten worse in recent years, I think because we elected a black president. The overt racism is frightening.

Do you recall the titles of the books? I'd love to read them.

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 03:10 PM

8. I found those books in my College Library 40 years ago, same author...

 

The two books were written by the same author at the same time, but the tone of each were different. The reason for the change in tone did not appear to be a prejudice against one region or the other, but the difference when it come to settlement was that fundamental. In many ways it went back to the days of Colonial Settlement, the North were settled by Puritans who valued the Community. This was reinforced by the constant French Threat from the 1600s till Canada fell to the British in 1763 (and the British replacement of the French frm that point onward till Tecumseh was killed in 1814, ending hope of a Native American Confederation to stop the westward movement.

The South was never really threatened by France in Colonial Days. By the time of the settlement of the Colonies, Spanish power was in decline, so much less of a threat then France. Worse, the Caribbean attitude to slavery became the norm, if an enemy ship appeared, you surrendered hoping no damage to the equipment needed to process sugar would be harmed. In a book written from the BRITISH point of view as to the US War for Independence, after the French intervened, the British concerns shifted to the Sugar Islands in the Caribbean and away from the US. Worse the British fully accepted the idea that the rich plantation owners on those islands would surrender to anyone who showed up, so to make sure nothing happened ot their plantations. This was typical throughout those islands, if enemy ships would appear, the rich would surrender, the real fear was the poor may fight while the slaves would defect to who ever was taking over the island. While the American South, outside of Louisiana and Florida, never went into Sugar Cane production (The South still has something called "Winter" which Sugar cane can not handle) the South had a similar attitude, the original upper class settlers had move to the South not to be a member of a community, but to make money, and they did not care how. This attitude spread to the lower classes, including people who had been the victim of that attitude (ex-Indentured servants, ex slaves, etc). Making money was the dogma of the South and spread to areas of the North that dealt with the south (New York City being the largest and most important of those Northern Cities).

One comment on the Religious Fundamentalism of the South. This emphasis on money left the South be the first area of the US to truly separate Church and State. After the Revolution the US entered into a major depression and the South decided to cut its welfare costs to save money. In that time period the State provided Welfare through the Church, by disestablishing churches, the South freed itself from those welfare costs. Widows and Orphans were told to go west and steal land from the Native Americans NOT to look to the State to support them. Yes, the Westward Movement, separation of Church and state are connected, in a way no one wants to admit for no one likes welfare and the South has always paid the least welfare. Thus the South embraced Separation of Church And State, while claiming it was to keep government out of religion, but the real reason was to cut welfare out. A side affect of this was a religious vacuum that Fundamentalists were able to jump into and fill. Given no religious background, when people decided they needed religion, these fundamentalists were the only game in town, given the lack of support from the State Governments AND that acting as a member of a community had NEVER been a big thing in the South. In the North, the Puritans wanted community, even if that meant accepting other religions (and even accepting Catholics).

When Separation of Church and State occurred in the North (Much slower then the South) it was also driven by a desire to cut welfare (Massachusetts only disestablish it church in 1837, during the next great depression in the US), but the State was more willing to resume welfare payments by the state when that depression was over then the South had been 40 years before. Another factor in this difference in treatment is the North won the Civil War, so widows and orphans of Northern Veterans could get survivors benefits, which was a form of welfare, while in the South, no such benefits were legal till long after the Civil War (After 1900 the South came up with all types of ways to work around the CONSTITUTIONAL ban on paying debts incurred during the Civil War, must survived for the Federal Government decided NOT to challenged those payments and only the Federal Government had Standing to challenge those payments. Please note most such pensions were so small that the few surviving in the 1970s were all less then the Federal SSI payment that the states dropped most of them and told the widows to rely on SSI only. THis came up with the last Southern Widow died a few years ago, it was reported her home state had reinstated her pension in the 1990s after cutting it in the 1970s).

My point is in the North, even after the full Separation of Church and State, you still had interaction, for the churches were all around the town square and thus you can say they were separated, long habits were hard to break. The need to take care of the Orphans of the Civil War kept the churches and state interacting. Public Schools had in many ways, replaced Churches as the center of the Community when universal education was adopted in the North starting in the 1830s, but not completely (The South only adopted the Concept of Public Education during Reconstruction, it was forced down they throat but once introduced has survived in the South).

Thus in the North the Church and State stayed in contact with each other, almost as equal partners in their communities AFTER the adoption of the concept of Separation of Church and State. Note the difference between the North and the South. In the South Churches started out as back street operations that the State ignored. Those churches ended up filling in a need but did so with low cost in money, dogma and commitment of Fundamentalism, while in the North, the established Mainline Protestant Churches (and later the Catholics, Orthodox and Jewish religions) worked hand in hand with the State while staying separate. The above churches wanted people to work for a better overall community and thus willing to work with the state to achieve that goal.

Unions tended to be stronger in the North then in the South for the same reason, with a union the goal is the benefit of everyone in the union not just the union leadership (the South has a tendency to say unions exists to enrich union leadership not the union membership, for that goes back to the dogma of the upper class that settled the South, what is it the Union for me? These same people fully believe the Union Leadership is in the leadership to enrich themselves, for that is what they would do if they were leading a union, i.e. those Souther Elite think: "if I was a Union Leader, what would I steal?" They can not accept that they are people who want to help).

Now since the Civil War, the North and South have become closer. The New Deal and the Great Society Program both brought to the South the Idea that people can help each other if they act as a group. The South has exported to the North, its concept of Individualism, both good and bad. At time these two concepts have come into conflict (And the GOP were quick to embrace Individualism as the GOP embraced the South). Hopefully the South will come to understand that rugged individualism is to extreme in today's world, but a good bit of that rugged individualism is good. It will take time, but I see hope in the South for it has been under Northern Influence for over 150 years and has to deal with the norms of the north over the last 400 years.

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 10:21 AM

5. So in other words...if you minus the racism, the South would all be voting for Hillary Clinton?

 

Look, I understand there is a racist mood in the South in some people. I've lived in the South for over 25 years. But racism isn't the reason there are different political parties.

Southern voters are angry at Democrats for a number of reasons. A big reason is religion. The south is more religiously conservative. They see the Democrats as a threat to the family unit and religious traditions such as marriage. This also leads into other issues such as gay marriage, abortion, women's rights, etc. Another reason the South hates Democrats is guns. Conservatives genuinely fear the Democrats are trying to confiscate their guns.

There is also simply a different economic philosophy in the South and the country as a whole. Conservatives would prefer a more laissez-faire capitalist system. Liberals would prefer a more hybrid socialist system.

One more thing, are you also suggesting that racism is excursively a Republican/conservative phenomenon? I can say that I have personally run into far-left liberal Democrats who are just as racist as any Conservative.

Republicans may try to use racist feelings to solidify some voting blocs. But racism isn't the reason we have political divide in America. We have 320 million people in this country. Getting all to agree on ANYTHING is impossible. You will ALWAYS have political division and dissension. That's the reality of a democracy.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 12:42 PM

7. You do realize that I didn't write the article

don't you?

I have lived my entire 54 years in the south. I agree with some of your points, particularly about the role religion plays. But I also agree with many of the observations of the author.

I obviously love the south since I still live here. Our history is so complex that it's difficult to narrow it down to a few paragraphs, but I admire the author for pointing out the role that racism has played. Is it the only facet of our political history? No. But it's a big one.

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