The South, realignment, and the consistency of political parties

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Lisa Kramer

Lisa Kramer is a contributing contributor at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

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  1. Avatar Bob Cheeks
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    I skimmed this for a more indepth read later..it’s excellent stuff. l
    One point I didn’t see analyzed was the moral factor and by that I mean an interpretation of the effects of abortion, gummint re-distribution of the wealth, centralization of power, socialized healthcare, etc.
    Some people are repulsed by the Left (of whatever form) based on its disposition to wallow in degeneracy, the slaughter of the innocents, and presumably euthanasia.
    We will be undone by the ignorance and immorality of our people..but then that’s the way it almost always is.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Bob Cheeks
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      @Bob Cheeks,

      Some people are repulsed by the Left (of whatever form) based on its disposition to wallow in degeneracy, the slaughter of the innocents, and presumably euthanasia.

      Maybe its because it hasn’t been a party issue in the UK but I don’t know anyone who would see abortion or euthanasia as defining features of the Left (I have no idea what you mean by degeneracy so we’ll let that one go). Certainly there are arguments for these things that can be described as left wing but political movements are not built around them.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Matty
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        @Matty, Thanks Matty, but I think that, for example, abortion, promoted, endorsed, and held up as a secular sacrament, was and remains a defining issue for the Democrats (“left”).
        I take some small pleasure in arguing with Christians who are members of the Democrat Party, …as in you can’t be a ‘real’ Christian and be a registered, card carrying, baby-killing Democrat. BTW, that’s the ground of my “wallowing in degeneracy” comment.Report

    • Avatar Lisa Kramer in reply to Bob Cheeks
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      @Bob Cheeks, Thanks for your comment.

      I think there are people who fit your definition and see abortion rights as one of the defining issues of the “left,” but I also think you’re overstating. The militancy around this issue is much more evident among middle-aged liberals who came of age in the ’70s than it is in younger liberals. Look at the Democratic conventions – in ’92, Bob Casey Sr. wasn’t even permitted to address the convention because he was pro-life. In 2008, no one even blinked when his pro-life son addressed Obama’s convention.

      I tend to agree with you that we’ve (Democrats) have been hurt by focusing on cultural issues, and I also agree that a vote is every bit as much a moral statement as an economic statement. I just don’t think that because a certain set of issues have dominated for a few decades means that they will necessarily continue to define the debate into the future.Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe
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    Great post

    When a Democrat’s support bleeds south, as it did in ’08, it’s a result of a national popularity rather than a regional realignment

    And complementing, as in the case in both ’52 and ’08, the *un*popularity of the outgoing President who was not on the ballot.

    For Jackson, the best argument against the Bank was the outcome, not the Constitutionality (although that was a secondary point for him). Not a great leap from these views to FDR’s views about the evils of “economic royalists

    But a significant reversal from the Wilson era chartering of the Federal Reserve system, which in my mind marks the decisive point of the Bryan/ T Roosevelt / larger Progressive era re-allignment. (which is the wellspring of the Paulista faction* of the Tea Party movement – and this same faction, for what it worth, thinks Hamilton is one of History’s Greatest Monsters (TM)))

    *which prior to the election of Obama, and prior to them being called tea parties *was* the movement. The ‘movement’ since has been co-opted by more mainstream conservative and explicitly republican elements. The paulistas are still part of the movement, but by my SWAG make up now no more than a third of the ‘clout’ (defined as some lose amalgamation of people, money, and influence) of the current movementsReport

    • Avatar Lisa Kramer in reply to Kolohe
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      @Kolohe, Thanks.

      I’m not the world’s biggest Wilson fan, but I don’t think the creation of the Federal Reserve itself “broke” the link between the Jackson/Bryan Democrats and the post-Wilson Democrats. After all, Bryan supported creation of the Fed (even though he was troubled by the details).Report

  3. Avatar E.D. Kain
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    says:

    Excellent stuff, Lisa. Once again.Report

  4. Avatar Dan Miller
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    Excellent stuff, but how does slavery and Jim Crow fit into this schema? It’s a glaring example of protecting the haves–whites, especially wealthy white slaver-owners–over the have-nots. I’m definitely not an expert on the history of attitudes towards African-Americans, or what specifically motivated racism (i.e., what stories did people tell themselves when supporting racism), so it could be compatible, but on the face of it it sticks out.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
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    Dude, this is an awesome post.

    Mr. Cheeks above has brought up abortion… I wonder how many lifetime Democratic Catholic voters jumped from (D) to (R) because of Abortion… and we can have discussions about fiscal conservativism in the wake of Dubya (and then, again, in the wake of Obama). Hell, we can have discussions of social conservativism in the wake of Bush.

    Most politicians of either party in any given region go out of their way to say “on the most important issue to you folks, I’m 100% identical to the other guy! So vote for me because I’m better on the 2nd most important issue!” (See, for example, Democrats who argue how awesome they are on gun control or Republicans who argue that Roe.v.Wade is settled law.)

    It’s not about party anymore. It’s about abortion or gun control or taxes or Afghanistan or Iraq or whathaveyou.Report

  6. Avatar Francis
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    says:

    Many eastern states are quite competitive, and have been for a while. This means that the parties are targeting a relatively small number of voters who can be persuaded to change their votes. Figuring out who is willing to change their vote, and why, is the reason why good pollsters / political analysts make very large sums of money.

    For example, people with relatively more melanin in their skin (aka African/Americans) feel for whatever reason more comfortable voting for Democrats. That’s about 12% of the population (but a little less of voting Americans iirc). But their issues receive less play in the media, because their votes are hard to move.

    Middle class white women are known to shift between parties, so the parties try to get their votes however they can, be it morality (abortion is evil! your daughter will be forced to carry her unwanted fetus to term!), security (omg, brown people are trying to kill you! your son is going to die in a useless war!) or the economy (we can create jobs! no, we can create jobs!), etc.Report

  7. A few weeks ago I looked at he results from the KY primaries and found the results interesting:

    On the Right you had a victory for Rand Paul who suprisingly did worst in rural areas. This can probably be atributed to his lack of support for ag subsidies. This is key because in this case voters’ economic concerns trumped their social views, of which they probably lined up closer to Paul than his mainline conservative opponent.

    On the Left the Democratic primary winner also won by carrying the cities and his opponent, who is from a rural area, did very well in rural districts, but not enough votes were there to put him over the top.

    This tells me a couple of things: One is that a divided rural vote in my state lacks the power to overcome a more unified urban vote, thus breeding resentment or a need for them to circle the wagons better. The second thing I take from this is that right now economics are most important to rural voters who may be feeling a greater pinch that folks in the cities.

    As an aside I should mention that KY has the smallest black population of any state below the Mason Dixon line. The growth of African American populations in states like GA and SC make a future Democratic realignment quite possible but this is not as likely in KY.Report

    • @Mike at The Big Stick, I read that post of yours a couple weeks ago… really interesting stuff. I obviously don’t know a lot about Kentucky politics beyond what makes it to national news, and for Trey Grayson, that was pretty much limited to the caricature of Mr. Establishment. Did he campaign on his support for ag subsidies or did he try to get to the economic Right of Paul?Report

      • @Lisa Kramer, Glad to hear you’re reading! Where I believe Grayson stumbled is when he spent far too much time focusing on Paul and not enough time talking about what he would do. What’s going to be very interesting is the way the rural vote shakes out with both candidates in the general election being sort of lackluster in those areas during the primaries. I suspect Paul will win because he’s not from Louisville.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Did the whole “vote the person, not the party” thing help a particular party more?

    Was it a wash, do you think?Report

    • Avatar Lisa Kramer in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      @Jaybird, Hard to say. I think it’s helped the extremes on both sides – and especially self-serving extremes. Candidates no longer rely on the Party structure for raising funds, and that vacuum has largely been replaced by internet fundraising, interest group money, etc… Best way to raise cash online is to pretend to be an “outsider” ready to take on the system. The more outrageous things a candidate can say to gain attention, the more cash rolls in, the more Michelle Bachmans and Alan Graysons we end up with. But sorry – that’s my own little rant.

      As for which Party between the two benefits, probably the Republican Party, if for no other reason than historically there were many more registered Democrats than Republicans. Democrats needed those straight-ticket voters…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Lisa Kramer
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        @Lisa Kramer, that’s pretty weird, though… the thought “the person, not the party” strikes me as a fairly “progressive” reason to vote for any given politician…Report

        • Avatar Lisa Kramer in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          @Jaybird, I can see it being a progressive sentiment in terms of being Good Government-y, but it doesn’t seem particularly “left” or Democratic, at least to me.

          Most of the old machines were Democratic, and Republicans were the “reformers.” And while there have been plenty of yellow dog Democrats throughout American history, I have yet to hear of a yellow dog Republican.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Farmer
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    I don’t know about the Tenn/NC border but where I lived on the NC coast, Richard Petty is the preferred candidate for president, or king.

    Very good post — well written and researched.Report

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