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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 10:09 AM

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.

-snip-

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/the_white_souths_last_defeat/

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:51 AM

1. "The American patriotism of the white Southerner is therefore deeply problematic."

Indeed.

It took me the longest time to figure that out, back in the 70s and 80s, that a desire for death and glory in foreign wars DOES NOT TRANSLATE to any form of patriotic allegiance to the federal government as such. The loyalty, such as it is, is entirely to the military caste, ones native society, and to the Pentagon.

And that is crazy, crazy as a shithouse rat.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:15 AM

2. An ironic thing is that the south as a region has the lowest percentage of males registering for...

Selective Service. The researchers found this puzzling due to the south's apparent love of patriotic display and militarism.
I think the answer is quite simple; you must register with Selective Service in order to secure a federal student loan, and fewer southern males are pursuing higher education.

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Response to Tom Ripley (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 11:39 AM

5. If somebody really wanted to be in the military

registering for the selective service shouldn't be a preventer of them wanting to serve. Maybe if they wanted to enroll in West Point or the Naval Academy and become an officer, it would, but if you're just enlisting to be a soldier, sailor or marine, you don't need a college degree.

My guess is that 'patriotism' to these southern white male conservatives means putting a flag sticker on the back of their pickup truck to show of their support of the first amendment, buying a few guns to protect their second amendment rights and going to church every Sunday and putting a few bucks in the hat so the church can help the poor.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:19 AM

3. TY for the link. The article is very interesting...

... also a little depressing. We wonder why the Serbs and Croats can't get over it, likewise the Irish and the Irish, and here in our own land we've got a festering subculture that might carry on for centuries too.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:29 AM

4. The actions they have taken to change the laws to block voters

is the third wave. I wouldn't say that is completely over yet as several Republican legislatures have passed some pretty screwed up laws which will need to be overturned by a court or by electing Ds in the legislatures and governor level.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:09 PM

6. This is more of a urban-rural issue than southern

The states the GOP is considering changing the electoral system most of them are Midwestern blue states. States who rural residents are no less homogeneously white. One thing in reading local article about this was that defenders of the idea consistently said it wasn't was fair they were getting out voted by "X" city.

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Response to SpartanDem (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:20 PM

7. About that Urban/Rural Divide...

It's true that in the midwestern states and some of the northeastern states (non-New England) that the heavily-populated urban areas offset the sparsely-populated rural areas. But in the South, the urban areas are not offsetting the rural areas. States like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana all have large urban areas and heavy minority populations, but it's not enough apparently to offset the number of conservative whites that keep those states solidly Republican.

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