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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 01:47 PM

The Old South's Last, Desperate Stand


from Salon.com:


The white South’s last defeat
Hysteria, aggression and gerrymandering are a fading demographic's last hope to maintain political control

By Michael Lind


In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe.

As someone whose white Southern ancestors go back to the 17th century in the Chesapeake Bay region, I have some insight into the psychology of the tribe. The salient fact to bear in mind is that the historical experience of the white South in many ways is the opposite of the experience of the rest of the country.

Mainstream American history, from the point of view of the white majority in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, is a story of military successes. The British are defeated, ensuring national independence. The Confederates are defeated, ensuring national unity. And in the 20th century the Axis and Soviet empires are defeated, ensuring (it is hoped) a free world.

The white Southern narrative — at least in the dominant Southern conservative version — is one of defeat after defeat. First the attempt of white Southerners to create a new nation in which they can be the majority was defeated by the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Doomed to be a perpetual minority in a continental American nation-state, white Southerners managed for a century to create their own state-within-a-state, in which they could collectively lord it over the other major group in the region, African-Americans. But Southern apartheid was shattered by the second defeat, the Civil Rights revolution, which like the Civil War and Reconstruction was symbolized by the dispatching of federal troops to the South. The American patriotism of the white Southerner is therefore deeply problematic. Some opt for jingoistic hyper-Americanism (the lady protesteth too much, methinks) while a shrinking but significant minority prefer the Stars and Bars to the Stars and Stripes. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/the_white_souths_last_defeat/



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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:03 PM

1. Yes... the reverberations of vanquished populations go on for generations....

I wonder, had Lincoln lived and been able to enact his more moderate approach to Southern reconstruction (and what likely would have been a "Marshall-like" plan for Southern rehabilitation), if things (and attitudes) might have been different 150 years later...

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:29 PM

3. Generations, centuries... and we wonder why the Irish can't let it go...

... or the Serbs and the Croats...

I gained a good deal of insight from Jim Webb's book "Born to Fight" about the Scots-Irish in America (specifically the South). I have to say it is a culture and way of thinking alien to me, a Californian, so I still have a lot to learn.

And it's rather depressing.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:13 PM

2. Interesting reading.

Thanks for posting it.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:45 PM

4. I love broad sweeping statements about the South when a Google search...

....clearly demonstrates that gerrymandering (redistricting) is taking place in quite a few states across the country:

All About Redistricting

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:54 PM

6. From what I can see from the link

there is indeed redistricting happening most everywhere--in response to the 2010 census that showed significant shifts in population all across the country.

But redistricting is not the same as gerrymandering. In Texas you find Congressional districts a hundred miles long and, at some points, one block wide.

This isn't to say that there's no gerrymandering outside the old confederacy. Wisconsin, for instance, is evidently having a big fight over this. But states like Texas, South Carolina and Virginia seem to be in a class all their own.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:59 PM

7. "Redistricting is not the same as gerrymandering"?? Seriously?? It is in most states....

...did you read the lead-in at the top of the webpage? Here, let me repeat it:

"On Jan. 3, a WV federal court rejected a congressional map, though that decision was overturned on appeal; on Aug. 27, a DC court refused to preclear both federal and state maps in TX. Courts in CO, FL, HI, ID, KY, MO, PA, and WI have rejected all or part of state legislative plans; AK did it twice. Absent valid maps, courts have drawn lines themselves in CO, CT, KS, MN, MS, NM, NV, NY, TX, and WI.

Several states have interim maps for 2012 only. Future districts are not yet valid for congress in TX, and for state legislature in AK, KY, and TX. And on Jan. 21, 2013, the VA state Senate passed a bill that would re-redistrict the state legislature."

"Redistricting" is just a formal word for "gerrymandering". It's done by both parties and in all states.


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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:22 PM

8. Redistricting is not the same as gerrymandering:

hence the two words. In some states it is done with a degree of fairness, California, for instance, and Oregon and Massachusetts.

And while there's political sleeze all over, and both parties have historically been more or less guilty, I think what we're seeing now in southern (and some northern and western states run by state GOPs, for instance Wisconsin) is a cut above the norm. Just as, while there's always been dirty money in politics, Citizens United has put that dynamic into overdrive. Even the list you cite leans heavily southern: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia. Some might include West Virginia as southern, though I'd say Appalachian/southern.

Hopefully some of the more egregious examples will be corrected by the courts. But the fact remains that, even though people who voted Democratic in House elections in 2012 outnumbered Republicans to the tune of seven figures, Republicans still control the House. That's some heavy weight gerrymandering, and it's obviously favoring the GOP. So I just don't see how this is a "both sides" equivalency.

I understand you're probably reacting to all the south bashing you see on these posts. But to ignore what the GOP has pulled and is trying to pull there, and in otherwise blue states that they now control thanks to 2010, is dangerous for our future prospects.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:34 PM

9. Incredible. Just curious, but in what decade were you born? nt.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:38 PM

13. What difference would that make?

Is there some historical nuance I'm missing here, because of my relative youth?

Some of the worst examples of gerrymandering are North Carolina's 4th district, the Texas 27th, and the Texas 23rd. These three districts are so mishapen they have their own precious nicknames--the 27th for instance is called "the Glock," the 23rd is "the Bottle Opener."

Texas gerrymandering probably takes the cake. Under their scheme in 2010 the Republicans pick up four districts, while there isn't a single district in the state that has a majority Hispanic or African American population--in a state that's growing increasingly Hispanic and African American. The scheme was so brazen that, because of the resulting litigation, the Texas 2012 primary had to be postponed, which is why Texas missed out on "Super Tuesday." If Virginia had adopted the latest GOP scheme--splitting the "winner takes all" nature of the electoral college and allocating electors by who wins each district--Obama would have received fewer electors than Romney, even though Obama carried the state. In Virginia, as in the nation as a whole, Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans--but Republicans picked up the majority of the House seats.

So sure, Democrats do it as well. But I still haven't seen anything that tells me their machinations are nearly as undermining of "one man one vote" as what Republicans have been trying to pull since 2010, especially (but not exclusively) in the south.

But hey, if you disagree, so be it.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:40 PM

14. It makes a lot of difference because you evidently understand very little about American politics.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:49 PM

15. OKay, fine. Your position is I'm young and I'm ignorant

and "understand very little about American politics."

Carry on.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:40 PM

10. You need to read the article

It's far more about the culture of the south - political culture.

Bryant

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:57 PM

5. K&R for great reading

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:50 PM

11. The article is accompanied by the following photograph and caption:

 


A Confederate flag flies outside the South Carolina State House



If a German citizen---let alone, say, the state government of Bavaria---were to fly the swastika in his ftont yard, he would be promptly arrested. Therefore, I must ask: Why is this symbol of slavery (the American Holocaust) still permissible?

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 10:18 PM

12. "The historical memory of white Southerners is not of ethnic coexistence and melting-pot pluralism"

I think this very true. But the idea that American=white is not just a southern one although it might be more ingrained in the South. When restrictive covenants were found to be illegal northern whites did not exactly welcome blacks into their neighborhood. And the rural north and west is just as homogeneous. I think there is plenty of support outside of the South in disenfranchising minority voters concentrated in cities. When the Michigan Republicans were thinking about changing our electoral system, a fair number of article comments were about how they were tired of getting out voted by Metro Detroit.

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