Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The End of the Southern Strategy?

For a few decades it has been hard to believe the Union won the Civil War.

Ever since Nixon devised it, the winning electoral strategy has been unashamedly Southern-accented and lily white. It may have been mixed in with other calculations––anti-labor, pro-Bible, pro-gun, anti-feminist––but those were all Southern sentiments too.

Business fled south because they could run their shops with lower wages and no union pressure. The South is dominated by Christians who believe in the literal truth of the Bible, never mind the contradictions or the fossil record. Evolution and other troublesome chapters of modern science get short shrift in the Bible Belt. And gun rights are an absolute religion in the South. Never mind about "Love thy neighbor" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

This election may actually spell the end of the Southern Strategy as a dominant idea. It may also spell the end of a few other notions. Jesus, for example, might go back to being on the side of poor people instead of against them. In racial terms, what Lincoln suggested in 1863 might finally come to pass. Except in those Southern enclaves McCain worked so hard to please.

Fear, prejudice, ignorance, gullibility, war, male-supremacy, unhelpful government, depressed wages and policies favoring rich people are the stubborn ideas of the Republican Rump. Expect the Republicans remaining in office to continue those themes. The Southern Strategy still works for them, but their region is narrowing, and their numbers are dwindling.

Democrats aren't accusing Americans of unattractive beliefs, the beliefs were drummed up by the Republicans and a majority of Americans have finally decided to repudiate them. Obama didn't oppose these retrograde ideas as much as he made them irrelevant by offering something better, inviting Americans to listen to what Lincoln called our "better angels."


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