I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few days as we head to another election. For Progressive’s like me, it’s forecast to be a rough one who’s results may lead us backward as opposed to foreward.
And, once again, the South will lead us there. We’ve always been good at looking fondly backward in the South–whether the facts support it or not.
That got me thinking. Why is it the South is such a stronghold for the Republicans? Here are my thoughts:
- The South is heavy with fundamentalists and evangelical religions. These people have been played by the Republican Party like a cheap violin. Here is what I would say to them: Open your eyes. Under Bush, the Republicans controlled the government and did not ban abortion or execute any of the other points of your agenda. If they didn’t do it then, they won’t do it now. They are using you. Wise up.
- There is a history of Patriarchy in the South that is not dead. The poor folks in the South have a genetic memory of listening to the Overseer or the Mill Boss. They still follow the dictates of local political leaders with little thought. They are used to being led without questions. See: The Civil War.
- Education is not really valued by a large portion of Southerners. They are suspicious of the overly educated and think they don’t understand them. The Republicans are very good at playing dumb and coming off as one of the “good ole boys” while they use the votes of the poor whites in the South to channel money and benefits to their rich friends on Wall Street.
- Southerners never look at anything too deeply. That explains number 1, above, and a lot of other things about the South. Introspection is not valued in the South. Action is….The Republican’s play on this very well.
- Facts don’t mean much in the South. Truth has always been conceptual rather than a reality. Any region that can convince itself for over 150 years that the Civil War was about “states rights” rather than slavery is capable of any kind of self-delusion.
- States Rights are tied to the myth of the Old South, so the South tends to hate the idea of Big Government, even if they enjoy the benefits. They can over look little things like Social Security, Medicare, new bridges and highways, insurance that covers pre-existing conditions and college kids. They somehow don’t make the connection that the federal government provides these things…
- Southerners value personal freedom above all else, as long as you are a straight white man.
- The President is Black and he’s a Democrat. To a large group of folks in the South, this alone is enough reason to vote Republican. Although you may never get them to admit it…
What can Democrats do to change all this and win the South?
- Learn to fight. The South and most of the Country values people who stand up for their principles. The GOP has Balls and the Democrats have Brains. You have to have both to win in the South.
- Push for independent, bipartisan redistricting commissions.
- Get out your message. We’ve got to publicize the benefits of the legislation we do pass and how it helps the poor and middle class as opposed to the Rich. The Democrats and The President have failed miserably at this for the last 2 years. We have real achievements, but no one knows it.
- Take on the bullies at Fox News. We have got to make people realize this is not a news organization, but a propaganda machine that provides entertainment to the ignorant. We should be pushing companies not to advertise on Fox News. We should be telling the Management to turn it off in Public places like restaraunts and gyms.
- Call a liar a liar. This relates to number 1, but I can’t stress this enough. The Republicans look right in the camera and lie. And no one calls them on it. We have to start making people aware that there are things called “Facts” and stand up for them.
- Make this about Class Warfare. A class war is going on and most of the country doesn’t realized it. And the Republicans started it. Call’em on it. While the top 1% of American households holds 34.6% of all privately-held wealth, for example, the bottom 80% (made up of salary workers) holds 14.9%. Tax policy greatly benefits the wealthy and the Bush Tax Cuts need to end for this group.
- Make it clear: Unless you have an individual income of greater than $200,000 or a combined Family income of over $300,000, there is absolutely no financial reason to vote for the Republicans. If you want to vote for what is best for your pocketbook, vote for the Democrats. They will- and have- cut your taxes, while the Republicans focus on the Corporations and the wealthy.
- Make Obama white. That’s about the only way you can get about 35% of white Southerners to support the Democrats. We have to focus on the remaining 65% of the South with open minds.
- Wait it out….The older, closed minded, prejudiced Southerners are dying off. The younger ones are better educated and have seen more of the world. Those are the Southern Democrats of tomorrow.
- Make your Democratic friends vote. Even if you have to go to their house or job and throw them in the car and take them to the polls. There are more Democrats than Republicans in many parts of the South. The problem is Republicans always vote and Democrats don’t. If more Democrats would actually just show up at the polls, we would win a lot more races.
Those are my thoughts for now.
All I have left to say is:
If you are a Democrat, get off your butt and vote. There are no excuses.
If you are a Republican-why don’t you just book a spa day for Tuesday and let the election go? You won’t be missed….