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What Is It About the South?

Sarah's picture

The gentleman's questions deserve good answers.

Submitted by vastleft on Thu, 2007-03-29 08:57.
In the aftermath of the DU flame-war about this, I’ve asked proud southern Democrats the following questions. Would love to hear your two cents:

1. How vulnerable have the crimes and failures of the Bush years made the GOP in the South?

Not so much. What makes Bush vulnerable here is what makes him vulnerable anywhere. He's an idiot on the economy. The lies are beginning to fold up under the royalty, and the price of gas is going through the roof. By '08 if it's not $5 a gallon it'll be scaring the daylights out of it, unless the GOP engineers another "oil surplus" like we saw beginning in October last year and lasting until about a month ago.

Walter Reed and no body armor and redeployments are all dirty words in the South, too; but we're a people who believe some things are worth fighting for, and we'll fight for what we cherish.
All the way.
To the hilt.

2. Which of those scandals and fiascoes has, or could have, the most resonance with southern voters?

Dunno about most. What's going to get least traction is the Plame story UNLESS you frame it as Bush mistreating a woman. A good, honorable woman working hard to defend her country gets outed by a two-bit political hood -- and he happens to be a greasy weasel of a political pudge-slug, bald and possibly homosexual to boot -- for the convenience of the administration? Frame that right and you'll have Southerners carrying torches and pitchforks to DC. Frame it wrong and you'll get a yawn. Which is what you're getting now, especially with St. Rush of the Limp Bough yammering endlessly about how there was no crime here.

3. How much anti-war sentiment is there in the South?

More every day. The Pat Tillman story isn't finished helping wreck the war. The Walter Reed revelations didn't help the war or the administration in the eyes of the South. Harp on the fact that Osama is still out there, and things are turning to shit one suicide bomber at a time. We have a wingnut here in town whose first son was killed in combat, and whose second, on his second tour, committed suicide; this guy still supports the war, but his neighbors are beginning to think he's seriously cracked about it -- that he supports it because if he saw the truth, that his children are gone for nothing -- and while you better not say we're wasting the soldiers' lives and limbs in this war, you damn sure better get after explaining that they're not being supported, they don't have allies, they don't have good equipment, they're not getting good intel, it's a hell of a lot nearer being a sandy Viet Nam than it is an Iwo Jima over there -- you can win people over showing them that there is nothing to be gained in Iraq.

4. How important is it that a Southerner be on the ticket?
Depends on who he is. Find someone smart and savvy and clean -- John Edwards comes to mind -- and it'll help the ticket. Find someone not -- Jeb Bush comes to mind -- and it'll sink the ticket. People down here are tired of the superciliousness and the skank.

5. Why didn’t Al Gore get support in the South, even in Tennessee?
You're kidding me, right?
He got no support anywhere because he got no shot at delivering his message, and everything he said, or did -- or hellfire and brimstone, the fucking way he breathed at a debate podium -- got twisted. He got a Howard Dean treatment, only bigger, from the national media. People believe what they think they saw on Fox News, when they hear O'Lielly and Rush tell them their eyes lied to them.

6. How much is religion a litmus test in the South? Is it enough to be privately religious, or do you have to be outspoken about it? If you’re a non-Christian are you a non-starter in the South?

Depends on what "South" you mean. South like Jimmy Carter? Faith is your private arrangement with God? That USED to be the way of all things important in the South, that manners and delicacy walked hand in hand and you kept your private business private; but that was before Karl Rove slaughtered John McCain with the flyer about his "colored daughter" in 2000. But the Bible belt don't run along the Mason-Dixon, hon. You got to know that "church" is important to Catholics in Philadelphia as much as it is to Evangelicals in Dallas. I will say I'm proud we're over some of the Pentecostal backwardness in Texas; it's been 20 years or more since we tried to make girls play sports in ankle-length dresses so they wouldn't be "immoral." It's still going on in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, maybe for all I know in the mountains in Kentucky and south Ohio, along the "border states" and up where the Mennonites resettled out of Mexico a generation ago.

7. How much do Southern voters actually care about issues like gay marriage and abortion?

Pretty well the majority of 'em under 50 figure if you don't like one, don't have one. Now there are some pockets of good churchgoing folk who still believe Randall Terry wasn't an agent of the Devil His Ownself, but ... there are fewer of 'em now. That guy that bombed the Olympics and hid out in the woods for years? People are more likely to turn in guys hiding in the woods for fear they're child-molesters, nowadays. Blame "America's Most Wanted." Southerners understand things, without making a big public fuss over them; a baby born with "hot feet" isn't the big deal it used to be, but we're not encouraging junior high kids to marry 'for the baby's sake' like we did when I was growing up, either -- and that was in Missouri. (There are some seriously bass-ackward pockets of people in the Ozarks, still.) And when your kid plays ball with a gay kid, and you realize that means your kid has one more chance to date the prom queen ... well, I'm saying it's beginning not to sound like the end of the world; but there are those pockets of churchgoers, or TV-preacher listeners (and I count Rush as a TV preacher because that's the kind of devilspawn he is, just like ol' Father Coughlin used to be).

8. What progressive issues do or could resonate with Southern voters?

Health care.

Social Security (if you're going to tinker with it make it cover more people and pay a little more in the baseline benefit. There are people in the South who wouldn't mind seeing a "top limit" on SS benefits IF that top limit enabled people who have to go without cat food so they can afford their blood pressure pills -- you tell people that SS can pay out $7,000 a month to some people, and $300 to other people, both of whom worked equal numbers of years and paid in right along, and it pegs their incredulity meters pretty fast).

Making insurance companies pay out when you get sick or your house is in a tornado or the levee breaks and the flood destroys your car and makes it so you can't get to work would be good, too.

Little things. We mostly want to be able to afford to live, and not be bothered by those idiots in Washington who have nothing better to do than steal our kids for soldiers and our money for their Paraguayan dachas, and jack up the price of college so our children can't go without spending the rest of their lives in debt, and the price of gas, and the price of medicine.

Pretty much, that's what it'll take to win the South.
Somebody who won't fart around and let Osama run six years.
Hell, it might be simpler than that. Run somebody with more sense than God gave potato cakes, and see what happens.

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm hearing a somewhat more troublesome State of the South report from many of the southern Dems at DU.

In some areas, they say that Christianist pastors have the voting public completely hypnotized and that a great many of their neighbors wouldn't vote for a Dem under any circumstances whatsoever.

Submitted by lambert on

Do we have numbers? 30%? More?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... this is a strictly anecdotal exercise. The anecdotes frankly don't do much to alleviate one's concerns about how the South will vote in '08.