The South Hasn’t Risen Again


J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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165 Responses

  1. Avatar MBunge says:

    Does opposing Barack Obama make you a racist? Of course not. It just makes you someone who is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists.

    As is his way, Sullivan overstates the case but he’s stating a fundamental truth in American politics. The GOP and conservatism spent decades making it plain as day that anyone “unhappy” with the Civil Rights revolution is enthusiastically welcomed in the Republican party. The impulse of whites to flush that context and the continuing repercussions of that strategy down the memory hole is one of the reasons that they’re on their way to turning the Latino vote into something only slightly less reliable for the Democrats than the black vote.


    • Avatar Glyph says:

      “Either you are with us or you are with the racists.”Report

      • Avatar Shannon's Mouse says:

        Unfortunately, due to the tendency of first-past-the-post voting to produce a strong two-party system… yes.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Looked at in that light, then I guess you are either with the racists, or with the people with Kill Lists.

          Personally, I think that’s an unhelpful way to look at it. Just because the major parties are a binary, does not mean that people are.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            To be perfectly fair, both parties have had kill lists for quite a long time… It’s just until recently they were farmed out to things like Contras rather than unmanned aerial drones.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              We’ve been around this one before (and again, thanks for all your patience and insight and writing on the topic) so I’ll just say that I am using ‘Kill List’ as shorthand for “kill this US citizen on sight without trial, and not necessarily in battle or during an apprehension attempt or to prevent an imminent loss of life”, which I find deeply problematic (and for which I wish we would adopt some judicial review framework like you proposed).

              AFAIK, that is pretty new.

              I realize this is imprecise terminology, and I think some people use ‘drone’ in a similar fashion.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                I’ll just say that I am using ‘Kill List’ as shorthand for “kill this US citizen on sight without trial, and not necessarily in battle or during an apprehension attempt or to prevent an imminent loss of life”

                I’ve seen this type of comment quite a bit. Do you have any evidence that your definition of “kill list” is the right one?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Still, I don’t want to get into this here, Nob and I have gone back and forth quite a bit on it on several threads, but I find the Al-Awlaki case an incredibly dangerous precedent to set.

                Nob and Trizzlor have attempted to make me feel better about it; they have been patient, thorough, knowledgeable and sane interlocutors.

                I still don’t like it, and would prefer a judicial framework similar to what Nob proposed in another post, to deal with US citizens.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Do Nob and Trizzlor like it? I might point to both sides having “kill lists” not to say that it makes it okay for my side to have one but to show that both sides are disgusting in this regard. But I don’t know if that is what others mean.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                It’s not that they “like” it per se, just that they feel it is less unprecedented/dangerous/prone to abuse, and currently has more of what can be considered “oversight”, than I do.

                And again, it is one very specific case (US citizens, not on a battlefield or about to commit violence) where I feel the process really needs improved judicial oversight.

                Like ‘Drones’, ‘Kill List’ is a shorthand that probably causes as much confusion as clarity.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                ‘Kill List’ is a shorthand that probably causes as much confusion as clarity.

                Well, then stop using it!

                If the specific issue is the legality of killing US citizens designated as “combatants”, then your argument has nothing to do with kill lists, it seems to me.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Well, while it’s not precise, it is more or less accurate.

                Normally, I have to have a trial to get executed by the gov’t.

                But if I end up on that list, I don’t.

                Hence, Kill List.

                Again, I realize it’s imprecise, but it gets tiring to type out some variation on, “You know, a US Citizen, like Al-Awlaki, who is not on a battlefield or about to commit violence, gets killed sans due process because he’s on The List”. But type that out I have, every other time I have discussed this topic. It was really a throwaway in this post on “The South”; I didn’t think we were going to hit it again in-depth here; like I said, poor Nob is, I am sure, tired of hearing about it.Report

          • Avatar MBunge says:

            “Looked at in that light, then I guess you are either with the racists, or with the people with Kill Lists.”

            No, it’s the people with the Kill Lists vs. the people who brought you the Iraq War that killed well over 100,000 men, women and children.


            • Avatar Glyph says:

              The point is that defining one single trait or issue as *the* defining one of the opposition party does the many, many people who may support that party for other reasons (just as I assume you support Obama for reasons other than Kill Lists) the disservice of conveniently putting them in the box marked “evil”, as opposed to one’s own “righteous” box.Report

              • Avatar MBunge says:

                Except the defining aspect of the modern GOP and conservative movement IS it’s embrace of white racial grievance. The flipping of the South from solid Dem to solid Rep, with astonishingly little time in between, is the single most significant thing about today’s politics.

                Barack Obama following a policy you don’t like is not the same as the GOP becoming the White People Party.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                (just as I assume you support Obama for reasons other than Kill Lists)

                I don’t know of anybody who supports Obama because of the kill lists. There are people who think that policy is legal, others who think it’s a useful tool in the WoT, others who think it’s illegal and immoral, and etc.

                It seems to me you’re obliterating the distinction between racism and kill lists insofar as there is an interesting to be maintained, one that’s essential for Mike’s argument here and much of the discussion. The thesis on the table is that some people (lots of them? only a few?) vote GOP because they are racists. (That thesis might be ridiculous, but that’s what’s on the table). No one, on the other hand, is saying that people vote Democratic because they support kill lists. The causal arrow for supporting those lists (if there is any) goes the other way, it seems to me, or is justified (or rejected) on non-partisan grounds.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Still, that’s not the part I am discussing. “Some people support the GOP and/or oppose Obama due to racism” is not an interesting statement; because of course some do – and I know some of them. The only interesting question there is, “how many?” but I know of no real way to answer that (though JL’s post is an attempt to sort of get at that question).

                My point is that saying, as MBunge did above, that non-racists who do not support Obama are ‘standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists’, while kinda-sorta-true in one sense, is pretty obviously grossly unfair in another.

                W. was roundly mocked for ‘With us, or with the terrorists’ thing.

                I don’t feel ‘With us, or with the racists’ is a whole lot better.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                fair enough. But I think MB is just presenting what he thinks is a description of things – that the GOP (at least at the level of Presidential politics) has actively courted the racist vote, which in turn is reflected in some of the policies – and policy positions – introduced. I don’t think that’s a crazy theory. In fact, I think it’s quite accurate.

                Whether or not he’s saying you ought to reject the GOP on those grounds is another matter, of course.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Just in case anyone here has mistaken me for a Republican – well, I ain’t. There are many, many reasons to reject the GOP, IMO.

                I just don’t think that nearly 50% of the country is either racist (well, any more than whatever we would consider ‘common, everyday baseline racism’ – IOW, pretty much everybody’s a little bit racist), or racist-sympathizer. Maybe I am just an optimist.Report

              • Avatar MBunge says:

                “My point is that saying, as MBunge did above, that non-racists who do not support Obama are ‘standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists’, while kinda-sorta-true in one sense, is pretty obviously grossly unfair in another.”

                It would only be unfair, grossly or otherwise, if non-racists who oppose Obama were vigorous in separating themselves out or differentiating themselves from the racists. And we’re pretty obviously talking about conservative opponents to Obama.

                So, how did non-racist conservative opponents of Obama handle the whole Birther business? That example would seem to indicate that either the number of non-racist conservative opponents of Obama is tiny or, more likely, most non-racist conservative opponents of Obama have little to no problem with accommodating their bigoted fellow travelers.


              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Post 9/11, I remember hearing quite frequent complaints from the right that moderate Muslims were not doing enough to differentiate themselves from, or repudiate, the terrorists in their midst.

                Obviously, to the extent the claim was true, it was due to various factors – selective media source sampling, repressive Mideast governments, and possibly the tribal solidarity common to all humans (that is, I may think my brother’s wrong, but it’s still me & him vs. my cousin, and the 3 of us against the world).

                Do you think W’s “with us, or with the terrorists” rhetoric was helpful?

                Do you think “with us, or with the racists” is?Report

              • Avatar MBunge says:

                “Post 9/11, I remember hearing quite frequent complaints from the right that moderate Muslims were not doing enough to differentiate themselves from, or repudiate, the terrorists in their midst.”

                So, conservatives scapegoating Muslims after 9/11 is the same as pointing out the GOP has pursued a decades long strategy of appealing to white racists?

                Have I, at any point in this conservation, told n0n-racists they shouldn’t oppose Obama? No, so your whole “with us or against us” crap is just that…crap.

                It would seem you oppose Obama and dislike being told you’re on the same side as racists. Well, you are. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong to oppose Obama for your reasons. But you’d damn well better understand with whom you’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

                And again, this is all tied up on the conservative side with their legacy of appealing to white grievance for votes and the almost pathological denial about that legacy on the right.


              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Mike, I am thinking maybe you don’t know my politics (neither Right, nor conservative, nor GOP).

                Suffice to say, “declining to support Obama” != “on the same side as racists”, except in a very limited and binary rhetorical sense. Yes, given the existence of the 2-major-party system, I can draw a Venn diagram that makes it true.

                But it’s not interesting, nor helpful, though I suppose it can be satisfying.

                I think it’s apparent we are making different points, so we can just leave it here if you like.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              “No, it’s the people with the Kill Lists vs. the people who brought you the Iraq War that killed well over 100,000 men, women and children.”

              What’s nice is that with a President that choses Republicans and Clintons for his foreign policy team, I can get both!Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      “Does opposing Barack Obama make you a racist? Of course not. It just makes you someone who is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists.”

      You said this in a perverted sense of humor, right?Report

      • Avatar MBunge says:

        Racism exists throughout American society but it bound up heart and soul with the GOP and modern conservatism. For example, there is no Democratic or liberal equivalent to the right wing embrace/flirtation/tolerance for the undeniably racist Birther claptrap. How many hours did MSNBC ever spend speculating on air about various 9/11 Truther theories about how Bush the Younger knew about the attacks?

        Even right wingers who are not themselves racists are almost always willfully blind to their party and their movement’s racial legacy.


        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Um, the Republican’s aren’t the ones who went to war to defend the practice of perpetual race-based human slavery, and then spend the next hundred years making sure blacks didn’t vote or do things we associate with freedom and success. They didn’t even turn back a ship full of Jews, or try to restrict Jewish emigration in the 1930’s. Democrats did that.

          A couple of segregationist Democrats switched parties, sure, but the rest did not. Most of the southern Democrats who’d supported segregation went to their graves voting Democrat. The South remained a Democrat stronghold until the mid-1990’s because the “Southern Strategy” didn’t actually work. The only reason white Southerner’s would vote Republican on the Presidential ticket is if the two candidates were too far apart on national defense (Eisenhower and Reagan versus their opponents).Report

          • Avatar MBunge says:

            Okay, this is a new one. Let me see if I get this.

            1. Republicans DID knowingly engage in a policy of appealing to white racism for votes.

            2. However, they shouldn’t be blamed for that because it didn’t work.

            3. The South almost completely changing its political affiliation in just a bit more than a generation had nothing to do with race.

            4. All the racially charged rhetoric and policies that continue to this day to emanate from the GOP is…well, let’s just pretend none of that is happening.


            • Avatar George Turner says:

              1. It didn’t work. All the racists kept voting for Democrats.

              2. They went to their graves voting for Democrats. The South didn’t swing Republican in the House and Senate until well over half of the white Southern Democrat voters from 1965 had died off. Once maintaining racial segregation was not an issue, younger Southerners started to slowly switch to the Republican party. When maintaining racial segregation was an issue, white Southerners wouldn’t be caught dead voting Republican because the Republicans didn’t support segregation.Report

              • Avatar MBunge says:

                “1. It didn’t work. All the racists kept voting for Democrats.”

                Except for Jesse Helms. Or Strom Thurmond. Or George Wallace.

                “The South didn’t swing Republican in the House and Senate until well over half of the white Southern Democrat voters from 1965 had died off”

                So, racism in the South ceased to exist for every white person born after 1965? And they all suddenly decided that the Republican Party was the place for them, even though they’re not racist AND THE GOP WAS CONDUCTING A DELIBERATE EFFORT TO ATTRACT RACIST VOTERS? You admit the GOP followed a Southern Strategy…but the political realignment of the South occurred in spite of it? Really?


              • Avatar George Turner says:

                So you list the three Southern segregationists who switched parties. Last time I checked, there were more than three Democrat politicians in the South. In fact, there were thousands of them, and LBJ told them “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

                The Democrat strategy worked, the Republican strategy to try to peel off the South failed until there was an entirely new generation of Southerners. You might want to read the book “The Rise of Southern Republicans” (a href=>Amazon link ). I bought it in hardback when it came out.

                The incorrect, simplistic, and entirely self-serving narrative from the party of slavery, racism, and segregation doesn’t really stand up to any scrutiny. It began as a desperate attempt to absolve themselves of guilt as social attitudes changed, doing whatever was required to convince their victims to grant them absolution. The psychology of it requires them to sincerely believe that everyone else is a racist while their history is as pure as the driven snow, causing all sorts of mental contortions, much like the way they think Susan B. Anthony was a staunch Democrat because she wen to jail for bragging about voting the, um, straight Republican ticket.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Oops. Bad link. Amazon linkReport

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              George, you’re viewing all of this thru the filter of static political parties who’s ideology never changes, and then coming to conclusions about voters based on that. Taken to its limits, it leads to incoherence, like: the Democrats are at one and the same time pro-slavery and pro-civil rights for African Americans. I think your analysis suffers from a lack of nuance. But maybe that’s just me.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              like: the Democrats are at one and the same time pro-slavery and pro-civil rights for African Americans.

              Bingo. They are.

              They dropped the work requirements and replaced the slave quarters and grits with free public housing and foodstamps, in return for votes and the promise to never ever blame Democrats for slavery and segregation, even though no one else was there. They’ve even made sure that for blacks, voting Republican is more perilous than trying to escape from Alabama to Ohio on foot in the dark while hunted by hounds. There is no leaving the reservation.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Yeah, um, okay then.

                So George here’s an example of what I was talking about.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Yes, because we think Democrats are unreformed racists whose blind denial of their own racism and racist past keeps them from ever examining it, much less addressing it, we must be … racist!!!Report

              • Avatar Matty says:

                They’ve even made sure that for blacks, voting Republican is more perilous than trying to escape from Alabama to Ohio on foot in the dark while hunted by hounds. There is no leaving the reservation.

                Really? I may be a foreigner but I’d have though the news about America having a law where you could set dogs on people for voting the wrong way would have got out.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I see what you did there, George. Matty, Mr. Turner is being hilarious again.Report

              • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

                Intentionally this time?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Conservatives find jokes about liberal strawmen pretty hilarious. I have to say that I do too. I mean, even the phrase – “liberal strawmen” – gives me the chuckles.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                You’re not even in the game, bro.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The game where cultural death is on the line? Ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha-hReport

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                They don’t actually use dogs, mostly just death threats. Stacey Dash, who stared in “Clueless”, has been getting a ton of those ever since she said she supports Romney. Even Rosie O’Donnel said that was over the top, but it’s par for the course. At minimum they are denounced as house negroes and race traitors, as were Colin Powell and Condi Rice in the press.

                Blacks are free to vote for any Democrat, even a former Grand Kleagles of the Klu Klux Klan (Democrat Senator Robert Byrd), but as I said, leaving the reservation is very strongly discouraged. The ones who do tend to be both very brave and very independent thinkers.

                Of course Democrats can’t even conceive why blacks would possibly vote like almost every other ethnic group, with business owners voting for pro-business candidates, retirees voting for pro-AARP candidates, etc, because they view blacks as fundamentally different, forever dependent on government largesse. That paternalistic view is patently apparent in their claims that Romney will hurt blacks by cutting their government aid, aid which has been the cornerstone of their strategy for winning black support since Lyndon Johnson’s era. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) said that the aid was a disaster that destroyed the black family, trapped them in poverty, and that it should be abandoned as a failure, but his party ignored him, knowing that black poverty is a small price to pay for racial absolution and electoral success.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Somebody call the whambulance.
                This man ain’t got the guts to do jack-damn anything about African American problems except blame them on the Democrats.

                Well, SIR, color me surprised. You wanna get this conservative black vote? You show up and get your hands dirty. You have demonstrable progress, that you can point to, and say “See? This is how you MAKE JOBS”.

                Humph. There aren’t any Republicans doing that, now are there??

                You wanna be the first? I got plenty of ideas! PLENTY. And you make ONE of them work, and I’ll vote for ya.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                It’s much easier to just play golf, go to endless banquets and fundraisers, let black unemployment skyrocket, and blame it on Republicans. It seems to work all the time.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Wait, is Obama a lazy layabout or a scheming socialist? Because there seems to be two Obama’s in right wing fantasy world – the lazy shiftless President who goes on vacation and plays golf as the world crumbles and the scheming leftist using the vaaaaaaaaaassssssssttttttttttttt resources of the federal government to turn the country into a leftist paradise of government-funded abortions and high taxes.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                It’s both, of course. He tried to get the federal government to raise taxes, but largely failed to get them to do anything since he wouldn’t meet with them very often. So ironically enough, the guy who wants to raise taxes the most, the person who got elected fundraiser-in-chief, is bringing in the less federal revenue (as a percentage of GDP) than any President since WW-II.

                All the other Presidents would get up every day, hit the office, shake the bushes, make some calls, knock a few heads, and bring in some dollars, but Obama is above all that. He just spins tall tales in his mellifluous baritone about how he’s going to get this country working again, then goes outside to shoot some hoops.

                The decreased federal take would normally be considered a good thing by the GOP, but unfortunately Obama also got control of the credit cards and went on a drunken spending spree, and probably started betting on the ponies or something, so we’ll get billed anyway once the bookies and collection agencies find out where we live.

                In the meantime, most of the rest of the family is out of work and keeps their money hidden under the matress or in that cigar box on the top shelf of the closet, and uncle Ed just sits around the house keeping an eye on the furniture so it doesn’t mysteriously end up down to the pawn shop.

                The neighbors all look at us and whisper that we’re completely dysfunctional, yet half the family has their heads in the sand, trapped in some prisoner’s dilemma or too afraid to say anything out of loyalty, but deep down we all know it can’t end well, becaues the one constant about socialists is that they’re always either broke or going broke.

                As the Soviet-era Eastern European joke went, “Mom, will we still have money under true socialism?” “No dear, we won’t have any of that, either.”Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          “Racism exists throughout American society but it bound up heart and soul with the GOP and modern conservatism. For example, there is no Democratic or liberal equivalent to the right wing embrace/flirtation/tolerance for the undeniably racist Birther claptrap. How many hours did MSNBC ever spend speculating on air about various 9/11 Truther theories about how Bush the Younger knew about the attacks?”

          What has any of this got to do with this —
          “Does opposing Barack Obama make you a racist? Of course not. It just makes you someone who is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists.”

          So, you were serious? Oh my.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      It’s not enough to stand up for what you believe in. The people who disagree with you have to be evil.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Hey! I didn’t call them Terrorists! that was RAND’s President! You know, bush’s treasury secretary??Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I don’t think Republicans are racists. I think racists tend to be Republicans.

        That’s the long and short of it. They’ve got a home there — they can’t be too blatantly racist, but the GOP isn’t going to rock the boat too much. It needs those votes.

        I’m not in deep Alabama, but Texas isn’t that far from it. I know these people. I know their level of racism (Casual, mostly. They’d never commit a hate crime, but they’d never hire a black man if there was a white man who was even a third as competent. Racism isn’t always burning crosses.) and I know how they vote.

        They color it in lots of things, but in the end — they know whose sticking up for “people like them” and they don’t mean “fiscal conservatives”.

        Not every Republican I know is a racist. Far, far, FAR from it. But every racist who isn’t an outright skin-head I know votes Republican and has for the entire time I’ve known them.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Spend some time in a union hall down South, buy the guys there a few beers and then crack a joke about blacks. You’ll then see plenty of racist Democrats.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Possibly. *shrug* I can only speak to what I’ve personally seen. Not that I think Democrats are free from sin, but “racism” doesn’t tend to be one of their ills.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              “I’m voting for the n!gger”…
              “Ain’t never voted for a n–black person before.”
              Yup, plenty of Democrats who are racist.Report

      • Avatar MBunge says:

        I’d be the first to agree there was a time, in the 70s and 80s, when charges of racism where thrown around to easily to squelch dissent to liberal orthodoxy. That was then.

        Now, it’s almost impossible to call anyone a racist unless they’re caught burning a cross on a black family’s lawn while screaming the N-word at the top of their lungs.


    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “Does opposing Barack Obama make you a racist? Of course not. It just makes you someone who is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists.”


      A lot of other folks have tried to push back on this, but I’ll give it a shot as well:

      A lot of people opposed the idea of either Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann for President. Certainly, there were some people who objected to them on the basis that a woman has no place in the White House, which would certainly be a sexist and possibly misogynist reason for opposing them. It is not, I’d be willing to bet you agree, the only reason one might oppose either Palin or Bachmann being President.

      Were you to imagine your incredulity in being told that you were standing with the misogynists if you didn’t like Palin or Bachmann, you’d probably have a good idea why people are complaining about you assertion that by not liking Obama you are choosing to stand with the racists.

      To whatever degree that is true, it is pretty inconsequential. Otherwise you’d need to be condemned for standing with the racists for not voting for Alan Keyes.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Line up presidential habits with the number of teen pregnancies carried to term and you have a much better idea of why the South votes the way it does. We’re socially conservative and we vote accordingly at the federal level. Drill down beyond national offices and it’s a whole other ballgame.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      “We’re socially conservative and we vote accordingly at the federal level.”

      You mean those of you who are socially conservative are socially conservative. I’m from the south and I wouldn’t be called socially conservative. I don’t even know what that means. What socially are you conserving? Don’t even liberals want to conserve some social aspects? I think the language confuses issues.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Obviously I am making a broad statement here but the South is generally pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, pro-religion.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

          That “pro-life, pro-death penalty” can be uttered in the same sentence without irony shows one of the weirdest things about American culture. Particularly given the manifest problems with capital punishment.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I agree. I used to be inconsistent in that way but I finally reconciled that position and I am pro-life across the board. My Catholic mother was happy with that.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Sadly, “Pro-Choice” can usually be counted upon to mean “With regards to abortion” without talking about other areas of one’s life that really aren’t anyone else’s business.

            But, to be honest, I’ve seen the statement made without irony that people can’t believe that there are people out there that support the death penalty but don’t support abortion rights. I have a rant that I give when I encounter that position and, well, I was reminded of it so I feel like I pretty much *HAVE* to give it even though you weren’t arguing against the position as much as noting the irony of the narrowness of the policies described by the labels.

            Thank you for your indulgence.

            The pro-life, pro-death penalty position betrays a trust in the system that is unwarranted but it has to do with a weird idea of “justice”.

            A baby, or fetus, is “innocent”. A murderer or what have you is “guilty”.

            It’s just as easy to reframe the argument as “how much process do you think should be followed before a murderer is killed vs. how much process should be followed before a baby is killed in the womb?”

            Now, keep in mind: I oppose the death penalty (hell, I oppose prisons) and I support the rights of women to get an abortion up to and including the moment of crowning for reasons as trivial as eye color selection…

            But the position of someone who supports the death penalty for murderers but not abortion for fetuses (presumably for reasons related to birth control rather than reasons related to rape, incest, or the mother’s life being in danger) is one that, within certain cultural framing, enjoys at least as much coherence as the argument that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, and the death penalty shouldn’t exist at all.Report

            • Avatar DRS says:

              I’m opposed to the death penalty because juries, judges and crown attornies can make mistakes and condemn the wrong people. In Canada, in the last 30 years, there were three well-known cases where a rush to judgement sent the wrong men to prison for decades. All three had their convictions eventually overturned. Their names were Guy Paul Morin, Donald Marshall and David Milgaard (all can be found in Wikipedia, if anyone is curious).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But that’s like being opposed to abortion because of the occasional time that it gets used for birth control after the fact.

                If you’re opposing abortion, you’re opposing abortion for cases of rape, or incest, or where the mother’s life is in danger.

                Opposing the death penalty because innocent people might go to prison? *NOBODY* (except prosecutors) wants innocent people to go to prison, let alone to get the death penalty.

                What about cases like Lawrence Russell Brewer? Do you oppose him getting the death penalty? Timothy McVeigh got the death penalty. Do you *REALLY* wish that that option hadn’t been available?

                Anybody can oppose the death penalty for innocent people. Everybody does. Opposition to the death penalty means “I don’t think that Dennis Lynn Rader deserves to die.”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Correct that last sentence to, “I don’t think that the state should have the power to execute Dennis Lynn Rader” and I’m on board.

                Deserves got nothin’ to do with it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And fair enough. I don’t support the death penalty either.

                I sure as hell understand why some people do, though.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                Is this rant directed at me? Of course no one wants innocent people to get the death penalty. The issue with the Three M’s in Canada was that the various police and legal system authorities became convinced early on in the proceedings that they were guilty.

                Marshall was a guy who’d been in trouble with the police before and had what some considered to be an attitude problem about cops, making him defensive and unco-operative when asked questions. Morin reacted to the rape and murder of a young girl in a manner that struck the cops as being suspicious because they felt it was insufficiently emotional for someone who’d known the family for years. Milgaard had aroused police suspicion because he’d been doing drugs with friends during the time of the murder and the friends were “persuaded” to recant their support of his alibi.

                In all three cases the police and the crown attorney sincerely believed they had the right guy – and they were wrong. And if we’d had the death penalty, all three would have hung. And I happen to believe the authority of the legal system suffers when that happens. At least with a prison sentence they were still alive when the truth came out and could be released to try to recover their lives.

                I know what opposition to the death penalty means. I don’t need you to tell me what I meant, Jaybird.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It wasn’t directed at you as much as at your argument.

                When people argue against abortion, the common response is “but what about rape, incest, or where the mother’s life is in danger?”

                Heck, that argument is so common that, in another thread, the assumption was that abortion in those cases was a pro-life position (rather than entry-level pro-choice).

                If I were to make an analogy between the two, I’d be stuck asking about the hardest cases where opposition to the death penalty is really, really tough rather than cases where opposition to the death penalty has pretty much everybody (except prosecutors) agreeing that innocent people shouldn’t be killed.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                You make it sound like I was saying they should walk free. Life in prison – and in Canada, it pretty much is life in prison – can be a pretty bad punishment in and of itself. Also: in Canada we don’t elect crown attornies and judges, so there’s not the “tough on crime” pressure that would come from facing elections.

                One thing that Canada and the US do have in common: mistakes are more likely to be made if the murder is committed in a town where murder is pretty rare. The authorities can be awfully haphazard when they’re dealing with something that they have no experience with. That was a factor in the Milgaard and Marshall cases.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                *NOBODY* (except prosecutors) wants innocent people to go to prison, let alone to get the death penalty.

                But lots of people are fine with a system where

                1. The incentive is for prosecutors to convict *somebody*, and having done so, push for the highest possible penalty, and
                2. Less-than-stellar (to put it mildly) defense counsel are appointed in capital cases,
                3. Those counsel are given inadequate funding to put on a defense

                The results: innocent people on death row.

                Which implies, by revealed preference, that while they might say they don’t want innocent people executed, they’re OK with it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Texas hits the trifecta. Elected judges and prosecutors (all vying to be ‘tough on crime’), HUGE number of death penalty cases, and we’re pretty much ground zero for things like “executing innocent people based on voodoo science” or “executing people whose lawyers slept through their defense” or “executing mentally retarded people”.

                And while it’s partially culture, a good bit of it is the way we handle choosing judges and prosecutors. There’s no incentive, anywhere, for mercy or sanity or clemency or anything but being as “tough on crime” as possible, where “tough” means “execution”.

                And that counts for judges too.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t think that people share those numbered assumptions. I think that they’re far more likely to have assumptions like:

                1. innocent people wouldn’t get past the grand jury stage
                2. innocent people sure wouldn’t be found guilty by a jury
                3. the system works as advertised
                4. besides, the truly innocent people who fall through the cracks eventually get exoneratedReport

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                You missed one: “They were surely guilty of something”.

                It’s an article of faith, for some people, that truly innocent people don’t get suspected of crimes. “Suspicious” people do. Suspicious people being people the cops know are criminals.

                So the thinking goes that even if they were innocent of THIS crime, there was another crime they were guilty of, because they wouldn’t have been put on trial if they weren’t criminal enough to catch the cop’s eye.

                I leave it to an exercise to the reader as to what extent “suspicious” and “skin color” go hand in hand.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You can’t trust the system. It’s corrupt. Pretty much down to the core.

                But when you say something like that out loud, people get all huffy and explain that there’s more good done than harm and how you can’t make an omelet and if I don’t like it, Somalia.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                And every long-time prisoner exonerated by DNA evidence reinforces 4? I ‘m with Hanley — we need to start teaching basic statistics.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                “You can’t trust the system. It’s corrupt. Pretty much down to the core” sounds an awful lot like a prelude to “and since we’re not going to burn it down to the ground and start over, there’s no way to fix X, so I’m not going to worry about it.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Wait, who said that??? Get a rope!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                A government powerful enough to prevent those people from being lynched could do stuff that inconveniences me.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                And a water utility powerful enough to exercise control over people’s bowels might one day make me incontinent.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            I don’t understand why people find it so weird/contradictory, it seems like a facile comparison to compare the 2 issues.

            The ‘manifest problems’ are why I don’t support the death penalty, but from a strict theoretical moral perspective I see the 2 cases as being completely different – ‘don’t kill innocent people’ is pretty intuitive (so if you consider fetuses innocent people, then there’s your pro-life), but a murderer (if in fact you could ever know with 100% certainty that you nabbed the right guy, which is impossible) can fairly be said to have forfeited his own right to life – again, this is an intuitive thing, across many cultures.

            If we *don’t* execute a murderer, it’s just mercy (and more importantly to my mind, prudent caution, in case we nabbed the wrong guy, and to avoid giving the power over life & death to anybody, including the state).Report

          • Avatar wardsmith says:

            Let”s see if we can break this down Nob. A BABY is totally innocent, could not possibly have committed ANY crime whatsoever. A MURDERER is not. I know this is too subtle for some but there it is. Pro Life meaning that you don’t think a BABY should be murdered is not quite the same as Pro Death Penalty and the end that someone like Major Nidal or more recently “the Joker” deserves.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              What if a totally innocent woman has a pregnancy which is threatening her life and is also likely to have a 50/50 chance that the baby will not live the birth even with the help of medical technology? If the woman terminates her pregnancy, she will live.

              Wouldn’t the pro-life stance be to let the woman terminate her pregnancy and let her live?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Technically EVERY pregnancy is life threatening to the mother. Ignoring ectopic pregnancies Warren Hern has said that “[Pregnancy] is an episodic, moderately extended, chronic condition … defined as an illness … treated by evacuation of the uterine contents. … The relationship between the gravid female and the feto-placental unit can be understood best as one of host and parasite. Pregnancy should be seen as a biocultural event in the context of other human illnesses.”

                Of course the new insult will become, “Ah, too bad your mother didn’t abort you”.

                Shall we continue to play false equivalence or do you really have the stomach for it?Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          “Obviously I am making a broad statement here but the South is generally pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, pro-religion.”

          How much moreso than the west and midwest and certain parts of the north? I’m sure you have the statistics handy, since you state it with such authority.Report

  3. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    There are plenty of white Southerners who are voting for someone other than Barack Obama for reasons unrelated to his race—I’d say most don’t give a thought to the Civil War when casting their votes these days.

    I’m not sure if the second part of this sentence actually has anything to do with the first part.

    Racial resentment and attitudes, insofar as they exist aren’t based so much around whistling Dixie as they are about a lot of cynical class warfare and cultural rhetoric that did (and continues to) exert influence on working class attitudes.

    As for the rest of it…well secessionist rhetoric based on “issues other than race” are pretty rampant in say Texas, and moreover, the Federal government isn’t particularly popular despite the fact that a substantial proportion of government spending goes to southern states.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    It still remains the case that the election results from 2000 and 2004 mapped onto the alignment of states during the Civil War at a higher clip than in 2008 (83% rather than 80%).

    That ought to decisively settle the issue of whether racism is causing the current distribution of votes, yes?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I should say: racism against Barack Obama specifically. Broader issues of racism seem to me to be unaddressed. Maybe Sullivan’s post is pointing in the direction of those other issues?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Well, the problem with blaming racism for opposition to Obama is that he’s not related to American blacks except by marriage, and what tiny little relation he does have comes from his mother’s side. On his father’s side, coming from the opposite side of the most diverse continent on the planet from American blacks, it would be like not voting for John F Kennedy because you hate Italians, or not voting for Bobby Jindal or Diane Feinstein because you hate Chinese.

        But to Democrats who only see skin color, the racist explanation probably makes sense.Report

        • Avatar MBunge says:

          “Well, the problem with blaming racism for opposition to Obama is that he’s not related to American blacks except by marriage”

          Yeah, ’cause American Racists only hate American blacks. Whenever the Klan would lynch a guy, they’d first check his passport to make sure he wasn’t from Chad or something.


          • Avatar George Turner says:

            That’s actually true. Africans count differently. The upper class college kids I drink beer with include whites and Africans (right off the boat) but very few American blacks. My dentist is Nigerian, and at some of the Southern computer factories I’ve worked at, such as Dell, the American blacks are outnumbered by north and east African immigrants, which is kind of bizarre.

            Democrats must make a similar distinction because they passed over tens of millions of American blacks whose families had been here for centuries to vote for someone who was culturally white (not raised with American blacks), was as fresh off the boat as you can be and still qualify for President, and had some of the African immigrant cachet. I mean, why else would they do that?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          But to Democrats who only see skin color, the racist explanation probably makes sense.

          Yes, I know. Democrats are the “real” racists.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

            The true anti-Semites too. Why else would they appoint Ivy League-educated, well-spoken people like Breyer and Ginsburg to the Court instead of a real Jew like Jerry Lewis?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Jerry Lewis never worked for the Prosecutor’s office?Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Neither did Breyer or Ginsburg as far as I know. Sotomayor started as a Prosecutor though.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My goodness, my assumption has always been that every single justice on the Supreme Court got there through the prosecutor’s office on some level.


              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Breyer was a clerk for Justice Goldberg, taught at Harvard, and was counsel for the Senate Democrats before Carter appointed him to the first circuit.

                Ginsburg did women’s rights cases for the ACLU before Carter appointed her to the D.C. Circuit.

                Scalia was in corporate law and then did some crim stuff in the Justice Department but seemed to be largely in the civil side of the Justice Department.

                I think Sotomayor is the only current sitting Justice with real prosecutor experience. Kagan has some indirect experience through her days as Solicitor General.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Jerry Lewis is Jewish? Is that one of those culture facts that I was supposed to know?

              I have a weird blind spot about Jews. I grew up in a small farm town that, to the best of my knowledge, had no Jewish residents. Nobody ever even talked about Jews, even in a vague anti-Semitic way. I only ever heard about Jews in Sunday School, and not as Christ-killers but as Jesus and his disciples. I knew there were Jews in America, but kind of in the same way I knew there was a place called Albuquerque–as something distant and probably different, but in what way I didn’t really know.

              So while my wife, who grew up in the L.A. area, and most of the Jewish people I’ve come to know, have this keen sort of Jewdar, I almost never realize who’s Jewish until it’s pointed out to me. And yet I get the feeling from others that I really ought to know that “famous actor X” is Jewish, so I always end feeling a bit dimwitted.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Most ethnicities know when “one of theirs” is XYZ (The Italians claim Scalia, etc).
                Only the Jews think that everyone ought to remember who is Jewish.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Shhh…nobody tell the Professor about Sammy Davis, Jr. 😉

                (that’s not a “winking” emoticon – it has a glass eye).Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Everything about Jerry Lewis is so Jewish to me that I don’t understand how anyone can see him as anything but.

                Even as a Jew, there are some non-Jews who give me false positives though. For example, Ethel Merman. Surprisingly, she is not a Jew.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Did you feel like this?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                ND, the thing us that I really lack that conception of what is Jewish. I mean, give me the name Finklestein and side curls and I might get it, but it requires that level of obviousness.* So I keep thinking there must be something I’m supposed to notice, but I can never figure out what it is. And the handful of Jewish friends I have don’t really give me much to work with. My colleague claims to be typically neurotic, but she just seems like an East Coaster to me.

                *I got mocked in grad school for not realizing that professors Goldberg and Goldbaum were Jewish. And then there was Schulman, which sounded to like a perfectly German name, and who really took it ill when I snakily called him a fascist. True story. He was an ass, but if I’d known I wouldn’t have said it.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                From the Ethel Merman Disco Album

                No, not Jewish, but there’s probably a Jewish holiday dedicated to surviving that album by scraping off the tracks with an izmel.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Jerry Lewis is Jewish?

                And Dean Martin was Italian.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                We didn’t have any Italians in my town, either, but at least we had useful offensive stereotypes about them.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I feel deprived.
                There are broad groups of people that I was never able to despise properly, due to the fact that I am largely unable to recognize them.
                My American experience has been somewhat dulled.Report

              • Avatar James K says:

                The same’s true for me to a large extent. While there is a Jewish community in New Zealand, it’s not especially large or prominent. Most everything I know about Jewish stereotypes comes from American TV.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              Okay this is what I don’t understand. It seems like every Presidential (and maybe Congressional) election year, there are a ton of articles published about how “this year the Jews will switch”. And what happens? We don’t switch. We consistently vote for the Democratic Party by 75-80 percentage points.

              Why are the Republicans so crazed about turning Jews into Republicans? Why don’t they realize that it is more than Israel that Jews care about and most of us think the Democratic Party is just fine on Israel.

              Josh Mandel* and Eric Cantor and Sheldon Adelson are exceptions not rules. Yet they get most of the coverage.

              *Oh boy is he an exception to the rule. The New Republic published a very funny quote from an Ohio grandma about how she thought that Mandel looked like a nice Jewish boy but certainly didn’t have nice Jewish boy beliefs when he opened his mouth.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The republicans are ever so hopeful that they can convince us to be “Real jews” again. Aka crazy right wing jews.
                Does anyone remember when crazy right wing jews were pacifists????Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                How long have Christians been talking about The Conversion of the Jews?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                It’s not a conversion, it’s just an upgrade. Christians just can’t convince them that Vista is better than XP.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:


              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                The Reform Jew’s messiah looks a lot like FDR. [old joke]

                There is an interesting demographic twist in NYC, however…


                The numbers provide an array of stunning surprises. The overall Jewish population of New York City increased dramatically after five decades of decline, rising more than 12 percent to 1.1 million since the last major survey in 2002. Nearly all the growth occurred within the Orthodox community, which now represents an unprecedented 40 percent of all New York City Jews (up from 33 percent just 10 years ago). Most significantly, nearly three-quarters of all Jewish children in New York—some 74 percent—now grow up in Orthodox homes.

                With its rigorous commitment to Jewish tradition, the Orthodox denomination in Judaism boasts more affiliated New Yorkers than the liberal Reform movement and the moderate Conservative movement combined. Both of the less traditional denominations suffered sharp losses in membership, declining more than 40,000 each.


              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Except to the extent that the ultraist orthodox don’t participate in politics at all, as they are rather anti-state. I also think Medved is mis-analyzing the special election to replace Weiner. (in short, it was an anti-Weiner (and anti-Obama) vote that the Republican won, not really the ‘Jewish vote’)

                And I also would question the wisdom of bringing certain (sub)sects into your political coalition whose views of strict gender roles are only rivaled by the Taliban’s.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                I don’t consider Medved a credible source.

                I consider him part of the heckling “Why Oh Why do the Jews vote Democratic crowd?” He does no serious thought into anything about Jewish theology or philosophy than would cause them to vote Democratic. He does not care about why Jews might consider the paternalism of Evangelicals to be off-putting.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                But he always speaks well of you.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Wait, wait…Josh Mandel, too? I’ve been seeing his ads non-stop for a month now, and I had no idea. Seriously?

                Well, at least that surprises me less than his caim to have been on two combat tours in Afghanistan as a Marine. On TV he looks like even I could take him.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                I do wonder why these Rand-lovers always end up looking like overgrown middle school students.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                “Why are the Republicans so crazed about turning Jews into Republicans? ”

                (semi serious) It worked on Irish Catholics, so why not Jewish voters?Report

              • Avatar Rtod says:

                I was thinking the whole “the enemy of my enemy” thing.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                What’s amusing (not really) was that Arab-American voters up to the 2000 election were majority Republican.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Which makes perfect sense. Socially conservative group who mainly run small businesses. A perfect Republican target group except, well, yeah…this thing happened.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Serious: Do you know what percentage of Irish-Catholics now vote Republican?

                I think Jews still feel a certain amount of othering that Irish and Italian Catholics do not. Irish and Italian Catholics probably never questioned their own entry into Caucasian. Jews still have the luck of being white when convenient and not white when convenient to the speaker. Jewishness is just connected to race and ethnicity in ways that Irish and Italians probably did not feel personally.

                There is also a certain innate conservatism in Irish-Catholicism. How many Irish Catholics went for Socialists like Debs?Report

              • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

                I think it really got started — at least in the sense that it’s present now — with the Bush 2000 campaign’s micro-targeting of Orthodox Jews in Ohio. It also has to do with the fact that swing states with decent-sized Jewish populations tend to be large — Florida, Ohio, PA.

                There’s also probably a feeling — and I don’t quite know how true it is — that older (read: retired) Jews are more likely to have an Israel-right-or-wrong attitude which might, despite liberal leanings otherwise, make them prone to being picked off by a moderate Republican. Or maybe Republicans just think that all old Jews are like Joe Lieberman?Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Ah somehow I suspected Karl Rove would be involved.

                Interesting Bush I was not very friendly towards Israel and was more than willing to court Arab countries. Or as James Baker said “Fuck the Jews, they never vote for us anyway.”

                I think you second paragraph is spot on. Peter Beinart expressed similar thoughts in an Ask Me Anything video on Sullivan’s website. Beinart theorizes that older Jews (up to the Boomers) were more likely to experience direct anti-Semitism at some point in their lives. However Jews from Gen X to later were highly unlikely to experience such direct anti-Semitism. Though how much of this is because we grew up in more insular Jewish communities. New York’s Jewish population is large enough that you can take your Judaism for granted and always be surrounded by other Jews. In other cities, I observe that Jews tend to just flock together and socialize with their shuls or stick to particular towns like Newton in Massachusetts.

                I often do feel like Jennifer Rubin is only Republican because of Israel. When she writes about other conservative issues, it feels like her heart is not in it. Even Adelson is fairly liberal as long as he is not being a union buster or Greater Israel fanatic.

                The problem is that Cantor and Mandel are not moderate Republicans but generally indicative of the far-right trends of the modern Republican Party. Both of them have more in common with Michelle Bachmann and Paul Ryan than they do with Jacob Javits or Rudy Boschwitz.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    ” I recall going around explaining to anyone who would listen that our days as a constitutional republic were surely numbered because of who was in the White House. ”

    As true today as it was then.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      I left out the part where I attempted to discern which Bush Admin figures were the reincarnations of which Fall of the Roman Republic figures. It makes for good self-depreciation but would have kinda de-railed the main post. Plus, the only one I remember was John Ashcroft as Marc Antony, which, I can realize in hindsight, is just plain wrong. Say what you will about Ashcroft, but I doubt he was the one most likely to be caught publicly vomiting on himself because of the hangover.

      So it’s at least — for my part — a little less hyperbolic today than then.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      I’d laugh, only on further reflection it’s actually pretty sad.Report

  6. Avatar LauraNo says:

    It’s not about democrats vs republicans. It is conservatives vs moderates and liberals. The south votes mostly republican because the south is mostly conservative. And conservatives celebrate the confederacy to this day, they favor draconian drug laws that just happen to way dis- proportionally damage minorities and their families and futures, they favor cutting social spending that dis-proportionally affects minorities and the poor and disadvantaged, they favor privatizing education so in the end …what? only some will have access to education…you can call all this a coincidence if you like I suppose. Or you can call it like Sully does.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      How does it feel spewing prejudice towards an entire region of the country? I wouldn’t know because I can’t figure out how to dumb myself down enough to do it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        What’s odd about this, Farmer, is that she was talking about conservatives, not southerners.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The south votes mostly republican because the south is mostly conservative.

          One could be excused for thinking that she was talking about the South.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            One could be excused, if one hadn’t then read the rest of the comment.

            That said, I’m a southerner, and I love the South. I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else in this country. But man, the politics in the South are fucked up. Race is a big part of it, as is class warfare, a hyper-politicized, hyper-modern hyper-religiosity, along with the popularity of a particular brand of “fuck you” conservatism, and so much more. Of course, politics are fucked up in California for a variety of reasons too. The South just has a particular breed of disfunction.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    The Republican Party is the party of the South, yes—and of the Mountain West.

    Colorado and Nevada are no longer reliably red, and demographic trends in those two states are working against the Republicans. The remaining five states that make up the Republican Mountain West account for 23 electoral votes; Georgia and Alabama alone account for 22; if the President were chosen by national popular vote, Georgia and Alabama’s 14.6 million people would count more heavily than the five western states’ 12.6 million (and of course, through the magic of the Electoral College, Montana-Idaho-Wyoming with only 3.1 million people get 10 of those 23 EC votes. The five reliably-red states have little to no influence over the national Republican Party’s policy-making. Western conservatives may agree with some of those policies (heck, New York conservatives probably agree with some of them). OTOH, recall that the Democratic governor of Montana proposed using the money spent in the state on Medicare and Medicaid to put in a Canadian-style system (Saskatchewan is the example he used) that would cover everyone, and it hasn’t exactly hurt him.

    The only purely Western issue I’ve seen is Romney’s proposal to let the states have more control over energy development on the federal land within the states (any policy regarding federal land holdings is essentially a purely Western thing). Even that, as I understand it, isn’t the degree of control that western conservatives would like to have: states could accelerate permitting under some circumstances, but wouldn’t be able to block it.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      You make some good points here, Michael, not least of which is that my assumption that “Mountain West” refers to the upper part of those big, squarish western states rather than the ones with, well, mountains in them reveals the limits of my knowledge of the region.

      But in the context of what I was pushing back against — that the Obama-era GOP is a revival of Confederate/Southern racial sympathies and beliefs — that the Republican presidential map includes a region culturally and historically distinct from the South is, I think, still salient, especially given the intensity of GOP support in many of those states. These are white voters, but not white voters that come out of the tradition of opposing Southern race relations. (In a certain way, I suppose you could also separate the racial attitudes of white voters in northern cities, too.) But you’re right to point out that this isn’t quite as strong a case as my half-clause treatment of these states implied.

      Of course, 50% or so of the vote ain’t bad, either — and is a little harder to fit into the Sullivan narrative.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        What about the idea that red areas of blue states have been largely confederatized?

        I’m being serious. The red counties in California have a lot more in common with Alabama than they do with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Jose and the rest of the blue cities/counties. Same with the red areas in states like Oregon, Washington, New York, and other states that the Republican Party have no hopes in winning in the electoral college.

        There is also the issue that the Confederate Flag has sort of become or is a universal Fuck You sign by large sections of the white, working class. You can see it displayed in the rural areas of many Blue States. I used to belong to another Internet group. One member was a Canadian working class woman. She wrote a post complaining about how her Canadian ex wanted to sew a Confederate Flag on a denim jacket that their two-year old daughter used. Why would Canadians care about the Confederacy? My theory is that in North America, the Confederate Flag has become a universal system of defiance by the rural (or semi-rural) white working class. It is a classically purposeful “anti-PC” Fuck you against upper-middle class, liberal pleas for tolerance and respect and equality,

        So I think we are in a cold civil war but it is more of a divide between cities and inner-ring suburbs that think they are cities on the liberal side and rural/exurban communities on the conservative side. Many of these rural communities have a lot more in common with the old Confederacy than any blue section of their own state.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          So I think we are in a cold civil war but it is more of a divide between cities and inner-ring suburbs that think they are cities on the liberal side and rural/exurban communities on the conservative side. Many of these rural communities have a lot more in common with the old Confederacy than any blue section of their own state.

          Yeah, the red/blue maps at a county level show the urban/rural split clearly. I have argued that this is a problem for the national Republican Party specifically and conservatives generally. This map shows the geography of the US population changes from 2000 to 2010. Many rural areas are shrinking, not just relative to the growing urban areas, but in many cases in absolute terms as well. The national Republicans, and conservatives more generally, have a problem unless they can convince the folks in the urban areas that Republican/conservative policies are good for the urbanites — so far, at least IMO, they’re doing a miserable job of it.

          Here in purple Colorado, I think I’ve seen the beginnings of urban resentment aimed at the rural areas in the legislature. Our tax and spending formulas are such that there have been steadily increasing urban subsidies for rural roads, schools, and social services. Some of the urban representatives seem to be beginning to be inclined to say “enough.”Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        And red areas in non-Southern states seem to have adopted the language and symbols of the Confederacy.Report

  8. Avatar LauraNo says:

    What about what I said is ‘prejudiced’? I am told all day long on cable that most, if not all of the southern states are solidly republican voters. So that can’t be it. I don’t think it is an insult, or a mistake to believe most people in the south consider themselves to be conservative. I could be wrong about this, it could be they are actually liberals when polled on the subject and I just missed the news. What else? Hmm, I claimed conservatives favor spending cuts on social safety net type stuff. Is that prejudiced? I said they favor eliminating public education. Is that the reason I was accused of being prejudiced? Or is it because I believe conservatives are strongly in favor of our draconian drug laws? Oh, wait. Wait a minute. Could it be because I mentioned those people most likely to be harmed by these conservative preferences? Is that what makes me prejudiced?.Report

  9. Avatar M.A. says:

    Claiming that the other side is not a legitimate negotiating partner, or cannot be taken in good faith, because 150 years ago the ancestors of some of the voters who elected them seceded is … well, I’ll let it speak for itself.

    Let’s add in the rest of the history shall we?
    150 years ago, they attempted to secede over their “states’ rights” to treat human beings as property.
    Until 1965, they were still trying to reenact said “states’ rights” via other methods of law. We call this “Jim Crow.”

    This year, some of those same people stood up and said the Civil Rights Act of 1965 never should have been passed, that it was a “moral evil” and “destroyed the rights of white southerners.” They have attempted to pass “voter ID” laws that have the transparent goal of disenfranchising nonwhites, and repeatedly been struck down in federal court.

    In a recent study to measure racial attitudes in the US, almost 80% of Republicans – concentrated in the deep South – showed positive reaction to overt racist sentiment.

    The reality is that there IS a bastion of racism in the USA, and it maps quite well to the old South. Handwaving about “well that was 150 years ago” as if the moment Jefferson Davis surrendered the South, racism was gone forever? That is a disgusting, dishonest, and wholly inaccurate way to describe the issues faced by the continued existence of a white supremacist ideological strain that lives in that region of the country.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      Voter ID laws have been passed, promoted, and upheld in northern — read, likely/solid Obama — states as well. Now, perhaps this doesn’t contradict the argument that almost all Republicans are motivated by racism, but it is a factor that would indicate that arguing this based on comparison of maps is meaningless, and based on regional history nearly so.

      As for that 80% figure — if we’re talking about the same survey — actually looking at the cross-tabs and the questions asked reveals something quite different. Yes, only about 20% of voters tend to agree “extremely” or strongly with positive statements about African-Americans. This is the same number that agree extremely with positive statements about WHITE Americans in the survey as well. Indeed, it shows very little variation in terms of racial attitudes — the exception being that Hispanic Americans are thought of as being more “hardworking” than either white or black Americans. Most of the variation between 2010 and 2012 in the survey — the variation that was talked up — comes from a 5% uptick in people who didn’t respond at all to the questions about race.

      Do I think that those numbers accurately describe racial attitudes in the United States? No. But that’s precisely the point — surveying it requires relying on vague questions and minor variations. It doesn’t lend itself well to surveys; it’s easy to lie, and we wind up with grim sounding numbers that are the result of attempts attempts to compensate for this through questionable extrapolations.

      So: is there racism in the United States? Yes, certainly. Is it concentrated solely in deep South Republican voters, as you claim? Almost certainly not. You decline to mention the intense history of racial conflicts in Chicago, New York, and Boston; recent school de-segregation cases to reach the Supreme Court (within the past five years) have involved Louisville, Kentucky — but also districts in Oregon and Washington state. That “white supremacist ideological strain” you mention — it ain’t limited to Dixie. Never has been. You should be more outraged that no Chicagoan outside the South Side gives a damn about the persistent — and growing! — violence in those neighborhoods than about requiring government ID to vote in Atlanta. North Side whites — and I’ve been one as well as being a Kentuckian — typically don’t give a flying fish about blacks on the South Side, so long as only blacks on the South Side are hurt by this not-so-benign neglect. Democratic voters today are pretty well implicated in contemporary American bigotry, even while voting for a black man from the South Side for president.

      As I say in the post above, what we should acknowledge and wonder about is the uptick in racial animosity in precisely the segments of the South’s population that were once more or less unconcerned with it (and, during that “hot” Civil War, opposed to slavery).

      What I take issue with is a) the shoddy arguing by parallel maps that aren’t anything new or anything meaningful, b) the resulting conflation of southern accents with racist beliefs, and c) the implication that anyone who votes Republican is motivated primarily by racial animosity.

      Basically, I’m on Randy Newman’s side:

      • Avatar aaron david says:


      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Voter ID laws have been passed, promoted, and upheld in northern — read, likely/solid Obama — states as well.

        I’m in general agreement, with J.L., but I have to ask, were those voter ID laws passed by Democratic controlled legislatures or Republican ones? E.g., in Wisconsin, which so often goes Democratic in presidential elections, it was a Republican governor and legislature that passed the voter ID law.

        I don’t know the details here, so I’m not arguing against you exactly. I’m just skeptical without more detailed data on who’s doing the passing of the laws.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          “Voter ID laws have been passed, promoted, and upheld in northern — read, likely/solid Obama — states as well.”

          Which is why a Republican, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Pennsylvania), said “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

          … wait, did I miss something here?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The abolitionists in the south hated the blacks and the slave owners with about the same level of cultural animosity. Folks down there wanted everyone to be on the same playing field, not to stick out and be different. (see the history of whitewashing blacks in the area).

        THAT said, yes, indeedy there’s racism up north! Plenty of it. I used to live near the largest group of KKK in the country. And most of those militias you hear about are racist (you should see the ones around Detroit!).Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        Is it concentrated solely in deep South Republican voters, as you claim? Almost certainly not.

        Is it concentrated in “deep South” Republican voters? Of course not. Republicans exist all over the country.

        Is it concentrated in Republican voters? Assuredly yes.
        Is there a solid core of these in the deep South (and elsewhere in the nation), enough so that the Republican playbook says to pander to them? Also assuredly yes.

        The same sort of racist sentiment that plays well to the deep South plays well to racists outside the deep South. That’s true whether they be Mormons out in Idaho/Utah (who until 1978 told blacks “stay the hell out of our church, you’re not welcome here”), or Illinois Nazis, or anywhere else in the country.

        The disgrace is that over 150 years after a war over secession, over 50 years after the Little Rock Nine went into a previously whites-only public school and nearly 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the GOP are still acting as if their act doesn’t stink and are openly, with hostility, trying to repeal the Civil Rights Act and reenact the sorts of laws it was put in place to prevent while whining dishonestly about how that act, which specifically noted the ways in which Jim Crow states had attempted to cheat minorities of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution, holds said states with a clear history of abuses and racism accountable for their past and stops them from enacting similar abusive policies without review.

        The banner of “states’ rights” is the banner of racism and cannot honestly be described as anything else.Report

  10. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ve lived in several areas of the country. The NE, the SE, and the PNW. The least amount of racism I saw was in Seattle. The most hostile was the Mid Atlantic. This goes for white to black and black to white. I actually think it’s worse in the NE. The hostility is cleverly masked by “proper thinking” camouflage. Folks tend to “sus you out” first and use code words before clearly identifying themselves (at least on the white side). At least in the South, they’ll come out and say it directly without all the foreplay. I’d rather have someone give it to me straight than have to decode their meaning.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Morgan Freedman said the same thing.

      Philadelphia was (and maybe still is) notoriously race divided as a city.

      The West and Pacific Northwest are rather homogeneous still in terms of demographics. Only 10 percent of Black-Americans live in the West/Northwest. Even San Francisco feels a lot more homogeneous to me compared to my native New York. When I visited Portland, I was a bit shocked about how homogeneous (and largely white) the city is.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Well, I saw more interracial couples in Seattle in one year then I did in my 25 years on the east coast. I heard more open and subtle hostility to it on the east coast than I did on the west. In all cases the woman was white and, curiously, most of the hostility to her came from other white women.Report