Sunday, July 12, 2015

The New South? Same as the Old South, but Not for Long

Not sure this was ever real, but it certainly isn't now.

The ripple of incremental change in culture across the South since the Emanuel massacre in Charleston gave rise to some hope of progress. It has been and will be offset by backlashs as counties like Marion in Florida bring back their Confederate flags and pretend nothing has happened. In many ways, nothing of substance has.

But that's only if you look at the shorter arc of time. Change is coming to the South, and it's been long in the making. A new article in the NY Times talks of the new demographics shaping a new New South:
For now, Republican officeholders live in a dream world where they think rhetoric and repetition will somehow cause minority voters and center-left whites to turn into Republican voters. Alarmed Republican political professionals warn that unless their candidates stop obstructing on health care and make progress on gender issues, the party will lose the White House in 2016 and in quadrennial spurts see its Southern hegemony dismantled by new voters in the New Sunbelt.
In presidential politics, the transition will most likely be seen first in red states like Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, all states that could be in play next year and could become purple, if not yet blue, as early as 2020.
In a sense, it’s the reverse of what happened in the South after the passage in 1965 of the Voting Rights Act. For some time, a coalition of moderate white Democrats and newly enfranchised black voters won victory after victory in the old Confederacy. But then, white flight to the Republican Party, driven by the regional appeal of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, wiped out many of those gains, although some major cities still have black mayors. Now we’re seeing a new coalition politics, in which Hispanic, black and Asian voters are joined by Democratic-leaning younger whites who, unlike older white voters, do not care about dog-whistle issues.
The challenge for those clinging to the Old South is to somehow win on the dog-whistle issues while never giving in to the common-good issues that are more inclusive. That's the battleground. As the new coalition rejects discrimination, intolerance, and refusal to help the poor -- read brown people, even though the majority of the Southern poor are white -- the battle lines will shift. Secular will win over religious, people will win over corporations, and attention will be paid to the working class. It won't be overnight, but it's coming.
It is a quintessential Southern pattern. The region’s most affluent citizens always resist the obvious at first. The plantation mandarins denounced Henry Grady’s gospel of industrialization and more humane racial policies. The most prominent Southern intellectuals of the ’20s and ’30s, the Vanderbilt Agrarians, looked to rural values and white paternalism to preserve a distinctive post-Confederate culture. In the ’60s Birmingham’s business leaders allowed George Wallace to run amok in their town. It will take awhile for Southern and national Republicans to understand that, as Mr. Frey put it, “Demographics is destiny.” The longer they take to get it, the greater the odds that multiethnic Democrats will finally break the Republican lock on the solidly red South.
And the Southern Strategy will find its place in the dustbin of history.

Note. For fun, go to this Red State post to see conservative denial on this issue. Then look at these graphics:







The story these maps tell is that Barack Obama was the first president since Johnson in 1964 to win while failing to carry the South. That's forty-four years. In 2012, Obama did worse in the South, yet still won.

Those not paying attention to the shifting demographics, better understand this: If a black man -- ostensibly a liberal but really more center-left -- can win without the South, what happens when the South starts peeling away from the GOP? Republican strategists shudder to think.

Note 2. Meanwhile, Donald Trump doubles down by pounding his chest on Mexican immigration. So good for the Party!

The Donald, not sharing the love with our Mexican brethren.

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