About the South Again

Our great friend Chris Bowers writes about our good friends Ed Kilgore and Tom Schaller, and Dems and Dixie:

During my four years in the netroots, I have become a firm believer in coalition politics, and that it takes a wide range of people to form a governing majority. . . One of the keys to building this coalition is that we work together. . . . Ed Kilgore is someone who recognizes these needs. . .

I have been good friends with Ed since early 2005 and have long enjoyed discussing all manner of political issues with him, but especially about the South. And while Ed's post is presented as a counter to Tom Schaller's, I think their views are more similar than Tom, Ed AND Chris think. I'll explain on the flip.

First let me take you back to my own discussions with Kilgore from February 2005 on the South, to demonstrate why I think Schaller and Kilgore really mostly agree -- since Schaller and I share the same basic view and I think Kilgore agrees with me for the most part too:

Kilgore does make some good points however in discussing the prospects for 2006:
The odds of making serious gains among Southern white moderates--and also of cutting modestly into the massive GOP margins among conservatives--are even better in non-presidential-year state races, like those coming up in 2006. . . .

I think this is pretty consistent with a Dean idea, and one I have talked about as being particularly important for the South - the decentralization of the Democratic Party. Sterling Newberry at BOP also wrote some very good stuff on the regionalization of Dem message -even where positions are the virtually the same. So this sounds good to me too.

Kilgore concludes:

Just goes to show: sometimes the regional stereotypes can be misleading. Given all the talk in national Dem circles about the need to appeal to NASCAR-obsessed, pickup-truck driving rural Bubbas, it would be especially rich to see two women take over state houses by winning suburban moderates.

This is perhaps the most intriguing part of Kilgore's post. And I certainly want to hear more of Kilgore's thoughts on how Dems appeal to that voter. That type of voter is the key to Dem fortunes in the South. And it seems to me that Kilgore is not describing a "values" voter.

A question for Ed, what does that type of voter think about the Kansas AG trying to violate the confidentiality of women's medical records? How does THAT issue play to the Southern female suburban moderate voter?

Ed's reply is a touchstone to me on why the 50 State Strategy can work in Dixie and why, as Chris suggests, we can all get along:

Armando seizes on my commentary about southern suburban moderates as a Dem target to suggest that maybe the belief that "values voters" are the key to the South is wrong.

Well, that depends on your definition of "values voters." If it means people who want to criminalize abortions, demonize gays and lesbians, or institutionalize evangelical Christianity, then no, suburban southerners don't generally fit that category, and I'd personally write them off as targets even if that were the case, on both practical and moral grounds.

My own (and generally, the DLC's) definition of "values voters" is quite different. They are people who: (a) don't must trust politicians, and want to know they care about something larger than themselves, their party, and the interest groups that support them; (b) don't much trust government, and instinctively gravitate towards candidates who seem to care about the role that civic and religious institutions can play in public life; © don't much trust elites, whom they suspect do not and cannot commit themselves to any particular set of moral absolutes; (d) don't much like the general direction of contemporary culture (even if they are attracted to it as consumers), and want to know public officials treat that concern with respect and a limited agenda to do something about it; (e) are exquisitely sensitive about respect for particular values like patriotism, parenting and work; and (f) have a communitarian bent when it comes to cultural issues, and dislike those who view them strictly through the prism of the irresistable march towards absolute and universal individual rights without regard to social implications.

By that definition, I think southern suburban moderates, and especially women in that demographic, are definitely "values voters." In answer to Armando's particular question about how suburban southerners would react to that wingnut in Kansas who wants to explore the sexual histories of women seeking abortions, I think the simple answer is that they would say: "Mind your own business, boy! Aren't there some criminals out there you ought to be chasing?"

This passage is critical to understanding why Kilgore, Schaller, Bowers and myself can all fit under the same tent very easily. Kilgore KNOWS we will not get "values" voters who have abortion and gay marriage as their big areas of concern. Obama and Wallis still do not understand this. The kind of moderate voter Kilgore describes as a values voter can be reached by Dems, flying under a devolved Southern Democrat brand, welcome as consistent withe the core values of the Democratic Party - a party dedicated to the Common Good for the Common Man -- yes, a populist Democratic Party.

Schaller would have no problem with, and I would strongly encourage, a devolved 50 State Strategy that embraces a Southern Democratic wing that targets those types of voters. So what are we arguing about? To be honest, Schaller's tone is what is at issue. He writes dismissively of the South. Let's be clear, Schaller is NOT wrong when he writes:

As to why Democrats in general struggle, and how the state and region became so Republican and conservative, there are five answers. First and -- sadly -- foremost, as it may have been in Tennessee, is race. Analyses of the National Election Study data from 2004 show that the attitudes of white Southerners on national defense and even abortion fail to explain their preference for Republican presidential candidates, but attitudes on race do. Anyone who needs proof of the power of racial polarization in the South need only look at the blackest state in the union. Mississippi is 38 percent black, yet has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, and delivered its electoral votes to George Bush without a fuss twice. Southern whites vote as a racial bloc for the GOP. Statistics seem to show that loyalty to the Republican Party is at its highest among voters in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah –- until you start crunching the numbers for white voters only, and realize just how solid and white the GOP's solid South is.

Second, the South is the most religious and evangelized region of the country, making it the most fertile ground for a socially conservative message. It is also (third reason) the nation's most rural region, which only reinforces its social conservatism.

Fourth, the gender gap in voting that prevails nationally is smallest in the South. Even the women in the South are Republican. In 2004, there were only five states in the entire country where there was either no gender gap or an inverse gap -- Bush doing worse among men than women -- and three of those states were in the South.

All of which brings us to the fifth and last reason: The South is the least unionized region. . . .

These my friends, are the facts. But we need not write off the region or criticize it for embracing Republicanism. What we need to do is find those moderate voters Kilgore identifies and allow a Southern Democratic message to emerge that can make the effective appeal. As long as we are not shooting in the wind trying to capture anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-science voters as Obama and Wallis would have us do, who could object? Certainly not Schaller and certainly not me.

Thus when Kilgore writes:

However you slice and dice it, these 2006 results just aren't consistent with Schaller's broader argument that Democrats should actively distance themselves from the region and its voters as a permanently lost cause, and make Dixie-phobia a talking point in appeals to other regions, especially the interior West, which he appears to consider the Promised Land.

I think he is mistaking Schaller's tone about the South for a political strategy proposal. What Schaller is saying is what we are all saying -- don't dig for fool's gold - the "values" voter and undermine the negative branding of the GOP as extreme. Let Southern Dems find their regional voice and target the moderate voters Ed has identified. Thus our views are, if not perfectly consistent, certainly they are at the least perfectly compatible.

The truth is it is the Obamas and Wallises who are striking the discordant note, criticizing Democrats in false ways and undermining the very strategy that can make gains in the South. I submit that neither Kilgore nor Schaller are the problem - it is the Obamas and Wallises that are the problem.

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    Digby has a fine post up (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 01:26:57 PM EST
    Talking to the Hand

    Democrats just need to stop being so absolutist about abortion, birth control, free speech, civil rights and religious freedom and then everyone will be Democrats. (Except liberals, but who wants to be in the same party with those losers anyway?)

    What do progressive Christians want? (4.50 / 2) (#1)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 12:05:49 AM EST
    The truth is it is the Obamas and Wallises who are striking the discordant note, criticizing Democrats in false ways and undermining the very strategy that can make gains in the South

    I agree.  When we discuss how religious values have advanced progressive causes, like civil rights, I think that's fine, that's great.  What I want to know is what do progressive Christians want?  

    I hear about how the Democrats are hostile to religion and that we need to somehow sit up and take  notice of them.  What do they want?  What progressive causes or values are the Democrats missing or ignoring?  Poverty?  It's been a democratic cause for decades.  It's been on the increase for several years now.  If progressive Christians think we need them now to fight poverty, I have to agree, but also ask, why now?  I have to assume these progressives have been voting Democratic all along if that's so important to them. And if they haven't, why not?

    If they want to incorporate specific religious values into law and policy they are no different from the religious right and they're going to find it rough going, not only from the Democrats, but from other  competing religious groups who will also want their values included.  Then you find the kind of favoritism that the Bush admin has practiced with their appointments to HHS, CDC, etc.  This is why I feel so adamant about the separation of church and state.

    I'm not trying to get into a fight here.  I really want to know:  what do progressive Christians want from the Democratic party?

    The south wants "nothing." (1.00 / 0) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 07:14:28 AM EST
    aw - Every administration has appointed blacks and other minorities. There's nothing new there. The Demos have been successful in getting blacks in particular to ignore the Bush administration's appointment of Rice and Powell by calling them, among other terms, "Uncle Tom," etc.

    Big Tent - What the South wants is "nothing." We are quite capable of taking care of our own affairs without being told what our problems are. Indeed, having lived them, the thoughtful citizen of the South knows them much better than what a few Leftist bloggers can ever approach.

    In many ways the South can be explained by this article on Jacksonian principles and trends.
    I highly recommend you read it as a starter primer.

    The strongest point is a love of country and region. Having a historical view of what losing a war really means, patroitism and support of the military is bred into the majority. If the Left thinks it won the election because people were against the war, they are wrong. Much of the opposition was  based on how the war was being fought. What you saw was an opposition vote to Bush not bombing enough, not destroying the infrastructure enough, instead choosing to try and "talk" the Moslem religious groups into cooperating and forming a stable government.

    In the meantime the Left sets around a table and speaks about what is best for the "south," or how to "lead the south," or how to "get the vote of the south."

    Watch '08. If we cut and run and if it is viewed as a defeat, the Demos will loose the nationals and the Congress will be back in control of the Repubs.

    Translation (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 08:29:51 AM EST
    Watch '08. If we cut and run and if it is viewed as a defeat, the Demos will loose the nationals and the Congress will be back in control of the Repubs.

    Translation: Somehow the conservatives' and Bush's fiasco is the fault of the left.

    It wasn't the left who lied about WMD.

    It wasn't the left who lied about Niger (It is now known  that the Bushies knew the evidence was faked- they were warned by analysts. They just decided claim the info came from the Brits, notwithstanding they knew it was the same faked evidence).

    It wasn't the left who lied about the aluminum tubes.

    It wasn't the left who decided to do nothing about the looting - that free people were free to loot (try that in the US!).

    It wasn't the left who invaded with too few troops to occupy the country.

    It wasn't the left who had no plan and still has no plan for Iraq.

    This baby belongs to Bush and his conservative enablers. It is high  time they took personal responsibility.  I don't expect them to do so, it's not in their character or their history. I fully expect them to dust off their Vietnam Dolchstosslegende. The "monolithic  left" of the slightly paranoid right's fevered imagination should call the conservatives on this nonsense early and often.

    I should modify my previous statement about no plan. The conservatives and Bush do have one plan for Iraq: blame the left for their fiasco. It won't solve the Iraq fiasco, but it might solve their Iraq problem.


    Excellent post, Molly, and speaking... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 12:48:22 PM EST
    ...as a born Southerner, I believe we will see the South starting to realize that when parties act to benefit the few, a candidate will eventually come along that appeals to the many.

    And I don't think Southerners are some monolithic block that will continue to vote against their own interests.

    After the Katrina debacle the South learned exactly what rethugs think of the South and what kind of treatment to expect to be meted out to them in future disasters, so the jig is up for the GOP.

    And in the long run they are no different than any other average American seeking to improve their lives, the lives of their children, health care, they see the destruction of the middle class, and the South understands the ravages of poverty perhaps better than the average American.

    I truly believe that if we stick with Dean's 50-state strategy, inclusive of the south, that we will start winning more offices there.


    Else where (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:50:58 PM EST
    Bill - You say "as a born" southerner... Does that mean that you have lived else where???

    Actually I think the expression is:

    American by birth.
    Southerner by the grace of God.

    Medicare RX (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 05:46:55 PM EST
    Molly - When you admit that you knew nothing about the Medicare RX progarm, but was just blowing smoke and trying to sound intelligent, I might be willing to take you seriously.

    Until them, I just can't.


    I'm sorry (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 08:44:32 AM EST
    I don't care whether you take me seriously or not.

    My  comment on medicare was that a sarcastic one pointing out it is a flawed program that many senior do not like. This is an accurate statement of fact. Its needlessly complicated and it can be costly for those on a fixed income. This is also an accurate statement of fact. {http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/PartD_CalculatingCostsThroughDonutHole.htm Here] is a discussion of the some of the calculations and issues.

    For what it is worth from the non-partisan Center for  Medicare Advocacy

    Seniors continue to have an unfavorable impression of the new Medicare Part D benefit, and many do not plan to enroll, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest poll (February 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Poll Report Survey).  The survey reports that more than half of seniors have already decided not to enroll or are not sure if they will enroll.  Of the 29% who say they will not enroll, 68% said it is because they already have insurance or other help paying for their drugs, while 51% say they do not think they will save any money through the private drug plans. The poll of 262 adults over the age of 65, conducted February 2-7, had a margin of plus or minus 7%.

    I think it fair to say this poll  indicate seniors are not happy with Medicare part D. Which is what my comment said. Again, I was accurate.

    I don't expect to convince you that I was fair and balanced in comments the other day on this topic. I don't expect to convince you that most seniors don't like the Republican plan (and hey, if you like it, that is all that should matter to you).

    After all, Bush's monumental fiasco in Iraq hasn't convinced you that the GOP is bad for national security...  


    honesty (1.00 / 1) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 11:41:27 AM EST
    Celebration of your lack knowledge? I don't believe you. I think you were just spouting the Leftist line.

    And the doughnut hole is just one aspect of a variety of plans that DO NOT have a hole. I note that your link ignores those plans that don't have a hole.

    Molly you have a quick wit and a sharp tongue, both of which I admire and enjoy. You should try and couple the two to a base of innate honesty.


    Dude you are tripping (none / 0) (#32)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 01:45:52 PM EST
    As God is my witness (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 10:48:39 PM EST
    As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again.

    Know nothing (1.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 07:13:18 AM EST
    aw - Thank you.

    Your comment defines the knowledge base of the typical Leftie regarding the South.

    Said knowledge being based on a book written and published about 70 years ago and a movie made from the same book about 60 years ago.

    If you were in the medical field you would have almost know knowledge of any of the wonder drugs and concerbed about your children catching polio next summer.

    Thanks for the laugh. Thanks for showing the world your "expertise."


    I'm from the South and a lefty (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 09:26:40 AM EST
    I was born and raised in Mississippi, went to college in Alabama and have practiced law in Georgia and Florida. My momma's people were from the South for generations. I grew up eating grits, cornbread, turnips boiled with bacon, fried chicken and the like. I've gathered eggs (free range before anyone knew the term) in the barn from the hens, slopped the pigs and have been chased through barbed wire fences by angry bulls. I bass fish on boats with oversized motors, gone hunting with my  cousins (though I never could bring myself to shoot an animal). I was part of the earliest integrated classrooms. Is that bona fide enough for you?

    The interesting thing about Southerness and Southern culture, it is almost always told from a White experience. Most folks don't discuss the Black Southern experience or discuss Southern Culture from an African American point of view. That is interesting to me, because while race in the South (and in America) is obviously better than it was 40 years ago in many ways, when we hear these paens to the South and Southern culture and to the "brave ancestors who fought for their homeland", its always from a White point of view. And its usually  whitewashed, if you will pardon the expression. It is though African American Southerners don't count, especially in confederate flag debates, where the pro confederate flag forces argue it is "the Southern Heritage" as though Black Southerners, who have lived here for generations don't exist.

    In part that is natural, you speak from your personal experiences. The sad thing is, very few consider whether their expereince is the same for everyone else and sadly very few have real personal experience with others from a different racial background.It is defacto segregtion. And the older you get, the further segregated you become.  I won't speak for the entire South, but if Georgia and South Florida are  the norm, what you have for the most part is enclaves of Blacks and Whites who have some interaction at work, but very little outside of work. I suspect it is the same throughout the country.


    What Molly doesn't know (1.00 / 1) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 09:45:54 AM EST
    Well, I hope you know more about the South than you do about the Medicare Part D Rx program.  I seem to remember it turned out you knew almost nothing, despite your claims.

    Molly. I will leave writing about the black experience to blacks, and the no-nothing Left. My observation is that they want what everyone else does. One of the great sins of "Kill A Mockingbird," is that it shows the noble white man saving the poor black at the expense of the white.

    Somethin similar may have happened, but if it did it was highly unusal and not well known.

    All in all it was just a Left wing feel good excercise while doing practiculary nothing in real terms.  

    But my point remains. The Demos want the votes of the south, yet they have no real knowledge of the south and demostrate their startling ignorance at every turn. And even though it has cost them in every election since Nixon they continue doing the same thing rather while expecting a different result. That, I believe, is called insanity.

    As for your claims, you come from a different south than I. My father was a sharecropper who came through WWII to educate himself and eventually become a landowner and live the American dream. So I understand poverty and discrimination quite well, thank you. Much better, I think, than you do, or ever will.

    The key to the south is national defense. The Left's present position is not acceptable, and will not be. The Demos are totally misreading the '06 results and are doomed in '08.

    In the meantime, have you read up on Medicare Part D? You'll need it someday. Wouldn't want you to sign up for the wrong program and not get the coverage you need.


    Jimbo (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 11:02:59 AM EST
    Regarding African American Southernors. Try having a little empathy for your fellow citizens- after all you, your complaints about how the South is misunderstood is essentially a request that your fellow citizens have a little empathy for you.

    "A different South"?  As usual, you make no sense whatsoever. I was born, reared, educated and have lived exclusively in 4 of the 11 states of the confederacy. You don't even know half of my story, so don't be so presumptious.

    FN: As for Medicare, I already responded to your nonsense.


    Molly (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by aw on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 11:32:31 AM EST
    PPJ is incapable of empathy except when it comes to GW Bush and his ilk, (See the thread from a few days ago about psychotics who seek comfort from authoritarian leaders.) but don't let that stop you.  I enjoy reading your excellent comments.

    I agree (none / 0) (#33)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 01:52:01 PM EST
    PPJ is unempathetic. Kinda reminds you of Dubya, doesn't it?


    Souths (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by squeaky on Fri Dec 01, 2006 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    Thanks Molly, for sharing a bit of the South with your fellow citizens. Odd that someone (Jimbo) can actually believe that they own the only true story of a vast and complex part of America.
    Regarding African American .....

    They must belong to a "South" that is littered with lefties, democrats, mexicans, women, jews and other assorted foreigners whose skin is rich with color.

    Jim knows the South, his South, a very pale white South, frozen as fiction in his own mind. His narrative is pure, very exclusive and very fake. It is like 'his military' and 'his war'. Very exclusive entities where he is the ultimate authority because he peeled potatoes or some held a vague and dubious position in "naval aviation".

    Empathy?  Jim believes that if he showed even a smidgen of empathy, the moslems, and all the other foreigners Jim is fighting against,  would see it as an opportunity to take over America. For Jim, empathy is unamerican and very unpatriotic especially during wartime.

    Too bad Jimbo doesn't realize that 'his' America was taken over long before he was born.



    I (none / 0) (#23)
    by aw on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 08:11:46 AM EST
    can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

    Know something? Anything?? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Edger on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 08:23:26 AM EST
    Thanks for showing the world your determination to demonstrate once again that there is not a point you can't miss when you try. You're getting quite good at it!

    I'd say Thanks for the laugh but...well...heh...never mind.


    Nothing? (none / 0) (#6)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 01:33:26 PM EST
    What the South wants is "nothing."

    Per Capita Tax Burden and Return on Federal Tax Dollar: Fiscal 2004

    State or Region            

    Northeast 0.89
    Midwest   0.88
    South 1.19
    West 0.98


    Huh???? (1.00 / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:44:12 PM EST
    And your point is?? What you see is the impact of military bases and their impact on smaller states.

    i.e. The smaller the state, the bigger the impact.

    Also you need to do is look at Alaska, a state I would submit is not "the South" and see that its 2004 rank is #2 at $1.87.

    Montanna doesn't do bad at $1.58.

    And New Mexico is first at $2.00 and has been for the past 23 years... Seems like there are a few research facilities there...

    And GASP! We have North Dakota as number 5... at $1.58.

    BTW - Instead of just  claim, why didn't you
    provide  us a link??"


    "nothing" (none / 0) (#7)
    by roy on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 01:47:22 PM EST
    You have an interesting definition of "nothing":

    National-wide ban on gay marriage and marriage-like arrangements.  Tight border control.  Agricultural subsidies.  Federal money for local law enforcement.  FCC censorship.


    Good one. (1.00 / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 05:52:33 PM EST
    Well, if is happening in MA, why blame the south?

    But seriously, my point was that the South doesn't need a lot of what they consider ignorant Left wingers discussing how the Demos can control them.

    Think about dissing, etc.

    And your point about the confusion, and the mixture, is a good one. Read the link.


    Hiram Evans (none / 0) (#10)
    by jondee on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:10:29 PM EST
    Read the link. Especially if you love to hear non-southern bluebloods wax poetic about them salt'a the earth folk. Almost as entertaining as Brooks  and Coulter on NASCAR.

    Glad (1.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:46:23 PM EST
    Jondee -- Glad to see you are among the living...

    And still incapable to understand common English.


    Jimspeak (none / 0) (#13)
    by jondee on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:50:49 PM EST
    Were you trying to say "incapable of understanding" etc?

    Guess what?? (1.00 / 0) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 07:11:33 PM EST
    Naw, I was thinking about telling you to kiss something.



    Something from nothing (none / 0) (#17)
    by jondee on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 07:32:52 PM EST
    I suppose thats just one more "nothing" to add to    Roys list - along with "increaaed bombing and destruction of infrastructure" - that the South wants.

    Yup (none / 0) (#18)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 07:47:59 PM EST
    They're quite capable of taking care of their own.

    They're all... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Edger on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 08:26:16 PM EST
    ...social libs?

    Well, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by aw on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 08:48:54 PM EST
    they're social, anyway.