Thursday, July 9, 2015

"The racial polarization of the American electorate"

Obama’s Progressive America: Politico Calls for Ethnic, Cultural Cleansing of Southern Whites

Politico Magazine, edited by former Washington Post reporter Susan Glasser, published an amazingly racist and culturally bigoted article by contributing editor Michael Lind last Friday entitled, How the South Skews America, We’d be less violent, more mobile and in general more normal if not for Dixie.
Politico bemoans conservative, religious white Southerners whom the magazine accuses of preventing the U.S. from being more like Britain, Canada and other liberal, English speaking democracies. The article concludes with the hope that the South will be ethnically and culturally cleansed by immigrants from other countries and liberals relocating from other parts of the U.S.
“The United States would be much less exceptional in general, and in particular more like other English-speaking democracies such as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were it not for the effects on U.S. politics and culture of the American South.
“I don’t mean this in a good way. A lot of the traits that make the United States exceptional these days are undesirable, like higher violence and less social mobility. Many of these differences can be attributed largely to the South.”
…”Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand—more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy. And it would not be as centralized as France or as social democratic as Sweden.”
Politico goes on to twist statistics to fit its bigoted screed:
…”The American South, with the lowest rates of intergenerational social mobility in the U.S., clearly skews the national statistics, creating an embarrassing and depressing version of American exceptionalism.
“Economic inequality? Apart from California and New York, where statistics reflect the wealth of Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, the South is the region with the greatest income inequality. Southern exceptionalism has helped to ensure that the American Dream is more likely to be realized in the Old World than in the New.”
Politico builds its case for anti-Southern white bigotry through similar sophistry throughout the article.
“Jesusland” as the article calls the South keeps the U.S. down by its faith in God, according to Politico.
“Religiosity is one example of American exceptionalism among English-speaking countries that is largely the result of Southern exceptionalism within the United States. “We don’t do God,” Tony Blair’s aide Alastair Campbell famously remarked, emphasizing that religion is kept out of the public sphere in modern-day Britain. In most modern English-speaking countries, voters find ostentatious piety on the part of political candidates troubling, not reassuring. But in the U.S., born-again Southern evangelical politicians like Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush who troll for votes with piety have given U.S. presidential politics a flavor more reminiscent of Tehran than of London or Ottawa or Canberra. According to Gallup, in 2014 the most religious Americans were all found in Southern states, with the exceptions of Mormon Utah and semi-Southern Oklahoma. Mississippi led the nation in zeal.”
Politico distorts racial statistics to paint Southern whites as more prone to violence than anyone in the country.
“Southern violence also goes a long way toward explaining the exceptional violence of the United States in general compared to otherwise similar countries. The pre-modern “culture of honor” continues to exist to a greater degree in the South. White Southerners are more likely than white northerners to respond to insults with increased testosterone and aggression, according to social scientists. According to the FBI in 2012, the South as a region, containing only a quarter of the population, accounted for 40.9 percent of U.S. violent crime.”
Southern whites are also attacked as being racist for not voting for Barack Obama and being Republican.
“The racial polarization of the American electorate is exacerbated by the white Southern electorate. In 2012, Barack Obama, the first African-American president, won only 39 percent of the white vote. But low numbers among white voters in the South dragged down his nationwide total. Obama did better than his national average with white voters in the Midwest and won outright with 51 percent in Iowa.
“Voting is far more polarized along racial lines in the Southern states than elsewhere. According to a recent study by political scientists Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen, “the larger the number of slaves in his or her county of residence in 1860, the greater the probability that a white Southerners today will identify as a Republican, express opposition to race-coded policies such as affirmative action and express greater racial resentment towards African Americans.”
The article ends on an upbeat note for liberals. Politico expresses the hope that ethnic and cultural cleansing will take place in the South.
“The northern progressives who joke about the U.S. jettisoning “Jesusland” and merging with Canada will not get their wish. But there is hope: A combination of demographic change and generational change is weakening the ability of the old-fashioned South to skew American politics and culture in the future. Peripheral Southern states like Florida and Virginia are increasingly competitive, and the Deep South may join them in time. In Texas once-reactionary cities like Houston and Dallas are competing with Austin as tolerant meccas for transplants who prefer the Sun Belt to the Old South. Immigration into the South from other countries and American regions is breaking down local oligarchies and old folkways.
“The decline in Southern exceptionalism in time may lead to more of a convergence among the U.S. and other modern democracies. Let us hope so. We have had enough of the wrong kind of American exceptionalism.”
This is an appallingly bigoted article, especially for a 21st Century D.C. political institution like Politico. On the issue of race alone, Politico ignores the many minority Republicans and Democrats elected to public office across the South.
Politico has published an article that is politically and intellectually dishonest.
But this is the state of politics in Barack Obama’s ‘progressive’ America.


  1. Someday, William, it would be nice to see you read an article and offer thoughtful commentary of your own rather than choosing to cut and paste and let others speak for you. Both left and right wings suffer from this problem.

    The charge of intellectual dishonesty, IMO, is fair. For decades, people like Limbaugh have famously strung together "facts" into a tapestry of bullshit. The author that William quoted who offers critique, however, is just as guilty by wailing about how this is state of Politics in Obama's progressive America. Maybe this guy can read up on voter ID and look in the mirror before talking about being intellectually dishonest. Still, I think there is a point here, simply adopting more progressive attitudes is not going make the south suddenly prosper and America as a whole is not suddenly going to leap forward in prosperity if the south becomes more progressive. I think a lot of liberals are quite intoxicated with their views of what is best for America and like conservatives, suffer from the delusion that the real problem is that people just can't accept "the truth".

    After basically failing out of high school, I was kind of lucky to have worked my way into a job on the floor of the exchange. I didn't have a true high school diploma let alone a college degree, and was really being held back by not having more education. Rather than go back to school immediately, as I did later, I embraced and somewhat defiantly touted the fact that I was intelligent despite not having gone to college. After one job interview, for a job I didn't get, I was told by someone from within the firm, off the record, that my demeanor of hard working blue collar kid came through loud and clear, and it didn't impress them. My work ethic impressed quite a few people to get me into job interviews. Once there, however, my demeanor screamed, "I'm an outsider and proud of it." I still caught some lucky breaks in spite of that, but missed out on some really, really good opportunities. This makes me think about the South.

    I sense that in the South, there is an enormous attachment to letting the world know that things are "different" in the south and redneck snobbery is no more attractive than liberal condescendence. I get that for strong Christian types, most things progressive are an abomination to them. Nonetheless, there are plenty of very moral liberals who may or may not choose to wear their faith on their sleeve. The critique offers some fair points, as does the original article.

  2. When enough of us "Damn Yankees" get here it will be different. Florida, Virginia and increasingly my NC are prime examples. Florida and Virginia are expected to go blue in the next election although Florida will go red if Jeb Bush is the nominee. NC has been competitive in the last two elections going blue once red once. And it took the Koch Brothers and company $50 million dollars to beat a weak incumbent senator.
    Max here in the south a good work ethic is not always appreciated. I like you have worked hard to get where I am today earning promotion after promotion when I worked for a northern company. My present employer is out of Texas and hard work, timely attendance, and just plain doing your damn job seems to have no bearing as those with the lackadaisical southern approach seem to be more in favor.

    1. I can't pretend to really know the south. My Dad grew up in rural Kentucky in the late 40's and early 50's, and he told me some incredible stories. He was in the Army between Korea and Vietnam, and he was stationed in Louisiana. One time, he got on a public bus in his uniform, and he was standing about mid way back. He told me a black man who looked to be in his 50's stood up and told my dad to take his seat. My dad said no, he was fine to stand. The black man responded, "You don't understand son, you need to take my seat".

      We visited a few times a year when I was between 8-13 years old, and it was definitely a contrast to living in Chicago. About a year and half before my Dad died, he moved back to the area near where he had grown up. If his cousin didn't live near that area, I swear my Dad would not have talked to a soul because he was basically seen as an outsider. I later met and became socially friendly with a guy who cut the grass for my Dad and he was pretty blunt that he felt bad for my Dad because he knew my Dad wasn't fitting in. People I met were always very polite and would stop and chat, but there was always a little distance there. If my Dad and I went somewhere to eat with his cousin, who was a local preacher, people would talk to us much differently than if we just went out for dinner ourselves.

      These are anecdotal snapshots that I know don't tell the whole story of what it means to be from the south, but it colors other things I read. The laid back southern life is not for me, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it doesn't have any merit and I think the Democrats are sort of just waiting it out until enough demographics change to tip things in their direction. Seems that time is coming sooner rather than later.