Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Today’s Defeat May Be Tomorrow’s Victory

The Democratic party has suffered a long slow drain of white Southern support since World War II. The “Solid South” that voted overwhelmingly Democratic between the end of the Civil War and World War II is now Republican territory.

Gains Democrats made by the enfranchisement of blacks in the South have been more than offset by the defection of whites. 

Some white Southerners left the Democrats in 1948 to support “Dixiecrat” Strom Thurmond for President against Harry Truman. They were angry with Truman because he had desegregated the army and supported some Civil Rights measures. More white Southerners switched parties in response to, among other things, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and President Lyndon Johnson’s support of Civil Rights’ legislation. 

Since the landslide GOP win in the 1994 mid-term elections, the large numbers of white Southerners voting Republican has been critical to Republican success. Many political observers say Democrats must find ways to reconnect with white Southerners.

I believe a different interpretation is possible. 

Democratic majorities of the New Deal era were based on a pact with the Devil. Segregationists were to the Democratic party what heroin is to a junkie. White Southerners needed the relief the New Deal provided and F.D.R needed Southern support. Sacrificed in all of this were black Americans.

The Democratic party could not have retained the votes of a majority of white Southerners while keeping a soul. Given the ongoing deep conservatism of many white Southerners, the same may still hold true.  Democrats have not found their way back to majority status since 1994. Yet Republican margins in Congress have been small and the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were close.

The electoral map is always shifting. A state or region that seems firm on one side now may vote quite differently a few years later. While many, though not all, white southerners stay far to the right, the rest of the country may shift another way.

What may emerge is a coalition of Western, Great Lakes and Northeastern voters who will shift Congress and the White House back to the Democrats.  Democrats have recently made gains in, among other places, Colorado, Nevada and Montana.

Nothing is ever settled. The ebbing of white Southern support has done a lot of damage to Democrats at the polls. However, the end result may be a party more ideologically coherent and better able to represent the needs of Americans who share a commitment to basic fairness and decency and Americans in need of some help from their government.   

August 16, 2006 - Posted by | Elections, Political History, Politics

3 Comments »

  1. I used to be a Republican until the Dixiecrats were absorbed into the party and brought it knee jerk religous fundamentalism, Fiscal liberality and a penchant for foreign adventures.
    God how I’d love to give that group back to the Dems!

    Comment by gregdn | August 16, 2006

  2. I agree. I think that one thing all of we Democrats in so-called Red States need to purge from our heads is the conventional wisdom that our candidates don’t stand a chance because the state is too overwhelmingly Republican. I get a knee-jerk reaction from many Democrat friends when I tell them that I am working on a Democratic political campaign here in Texas. “Do you really think she has a chance?” they ask.

    The fact is, if you do the math, and review the numbers of potential, eligible Democratic voters in Texas, especially the urban populations, we could win some statewide elections. Granted, these would be close races, but they are certainly doable.

    I also think that you get these voters and potential voters of disparate backgrounds back under your tent by talking about the issues that are hitting them close to home. It’s really nothing new, but it has yet to be packaged and crystallized in a grand vision of hope and future betterment for them and their children. We are working on it, though, and I think you will see some great new leaders rise to the top in, like you said, surprisingly new and shifting places. I am certain that the party will succeed in accomplishing what you describe well in your last paragraph.

    Comment by Evan C. Norman | August 17, 2006

  3. While I’ve been known to vote for the Repubs in the past, I’ll never do so again. And that’s the only “support” I can give the Dems as I can’t vote for a Dem on moral and ethical grounds. The Dems should easily exploit the Repubs fumble of the immigration issue by playing the race card and the demographics are on the Dems sides if they successfully exploit and play up the race card. There’s a new groundswell of anti European-American sentiment and outright racial hatred contained in the Dems base of Hispanic/Mexican and African-American voters. By pursuing cloaked socialist taxation designed to redistribute the wealth, destoy the upper middle income group and tax the rich out of the U.S., the Dems should be able to turn the economy upside down and the only way to stop the unbridled military adventurism sadly displayed by the U.S. gov’t is to check the economic strenght of the economy, thus I’ll lend you my support by no longer voting for a Repub.

    Comment by ed | August 17, 2006


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