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February 27, 2005



I don't think Digby's right about all Southerners. But he is right about a certain species that pretends to speak for them, such as political stragist David "Mudcat" Saunder as discussed over at MyDD in the post Tolerance, tradition & transformation amidst intractable conflict. There is a long history of this sort of insufferable behavior from the white South. And they accuse other folks of "victmology!" When we fall for it and empower this sort of whiny BS, we just make it that much harder for the real Southern Democrats--black and white--that we ought to be working with.

I wishw e could just dump the electoral college and use a popular vote for the presidency.

Lovely format; this blog is a treat for the eyes! Good luck with it. I will be visiting often!

Kerry sure as hell didn't try -- and even if he had, his economic message wasn't populist enough to really distinguish himself from Bush.

There's a complete analysis of the election in a nutshell if I ever saw one.

I don't know how to "win the South", but it seems obvious if you don't campaign there it's never going to happen. It's maybe not as obvious, but not that hard to figure out either, that we're not going to win the culture wars head on, even if we sell our souls. The perfect diversionary tactic is economics, where we actually advocate and do things for the working/middle class, but we choose not to play there either.

Again, I don't know the South very well, but it doesn't seem that different to me from the rural, conservative areas I've lived in. Seems like if we win in one place, we can win in a lot more places (like Ohio, for instance).

Sheesh, where is Digby anyway?

Sure, I can think of some examples of what hes talking about, but no one in these parts likes them anyway. But they capture the most attention because they're so loud.

The concerns are the same, although sure there's some differences. Hunting's a huge one, but only if you live in the rural areas, like me. Otherwise, people have the same concerns everywhere, esp. about this administration.

The more the Dems conjure up these kinds of caricatures, the further away they're going to be pushing these guys. The result for 2004 was they simply didn't vote.

If the Dems want them, they need to cut out the monkey business about Southerners and just start doing their job by putting the focus on the real stuff: the economy, jobs, Patriot Act, torture, corporate media, etc.

Huey Long wasn't a NASCAR fan, but he was a populist. The populist aspect of the Democratic Party is bit hidden Nationaly right now. But not in Montana and some other places. This is an aspect of the party that needs to be expanded/returned to. The Bullmoose aspect of the Party needs to be looked at. While the populist message may not be for every place and everyone, I see it as a legit faction for the Dem Party. Uniformity isn't going to happen, so let's nurture our cooperating factions.

Sweet Home New England

You know, as someone who's spent about 1/2 his life in the midwest and 1/2 in New England, I've been stewing about this whole subject for months.

There may have been a time when northerners disrespected Southern culture but not anymore. The most popular radio station here in CT is a Country station. Grown men are trading NASCAR cards. My brother, a corporate lawyer for one of the oldest blue-blood firms in Boston watches CMT.

The problem isn't that we don't respect southern culture. In fact the problem is exactly the opposite.The simple truth is that the right has riddent to power by successfully fulmanating geographic disrespect for northerners as a key part of it's southern strategy. It goes like this:

-Latch onto a tolerant position on a social issue held commonly in the north, say gay rights or abortion.

-Emasculate northerners as being wimps.

-Pat Southerners on the back for being "Real" Americans.

Well, I'm sick of it. If it weren't for the progressive patriotism of Northerners we might still be paying taxes to the Queen, owning blacks as slaves, and getting the sh*t beaten out of us by strikebreakers.

So I've decided to start singin' a new song. It goes like this:

Sweet Home New England
Where the votes are so blue
Sweet Home New England
We'll keep bringin' progress home to you

Whooo, Whooo, Whooo

In Boston-town they got Ted Kennedy
And we all know what he can do
Bring us all back some health care
So it don't matter what happens to you.

Whooo, Whooo, Whooo.

Sweet Home New England

You know, I feel better already.

Heh. Cookie is right, of course, but jsmckay won my gut.

I think it may have been Michael Berube who made the case after the election that the states Dems lost since Clinton weren't so much Mason-Dixon states, but Louisiana Purchase states. Just something to think about.

I grew up in Texas and was edumacated there as well. Somehow I grew up into thinking more like an east coast librul intellectual. The democratic party does not need to change it's core ideals or embrace NASCAR to win the red states. It needs to get out the message, educate the voters there. Take one issue for example, this has been discussed in posts at dKos and/or eschaton: Why do voters who have no health care continue to vote for a party that resists providing universal health care? I personally know people who were one illness away from complete financial ruin who somehow saw Hilary's attempt to get something going on this issue as a bad thing. This makes no sense.

Rolfyboy6 steals my thunder with the first mention of Huey Long on this thread. I've been meaning to resurrect my reading materials on Long -- particularly the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography "Huey Long" by T. Harry Williams -- because it's time people remembered what a real populist stood for. Long advocated a plan based on the Biblical concept of Jubilee -- the forgiveness of debts. He had his own nationwide radio show. One of the platforms of his "Share the Wealth" program was a limit on the amount of money a family could earn in a year, and limits on what they could own, expressed as a multiple of the average family's earnings and wealth. Heavy stuff.

Either that or the Democrats need a Malcolm X.

Problem is, it's a tough job. Both of those guys were assassinated.

duhnonymous is right. Dems need to be Dems, REAL Dems.

Democratic values are Southern values down to their very core. But the Dems have lost sight of their own values, the progressive grassroots values --- and sure, the Rethuglicans have cashed in on the latent (and blatant) racism of the area --- but that goes for the latent and blatant racism, etc. of the entire country, not just the South.

Really, I'm telling you people, if the Dems will just be Dems, they'll be winning in these parts. Which means no move to the center!

This is a topic which gets me hot under the collar real fast!

Why do voters who have no health care continue to vote for a party that resists providing universal health care?

Maybe it's because the Dems aren't really able to say that they're for universal coverage. Look at the last election -- Kerry wasn't offering universal coverage. He was essentially saying, "I've got a plan to do better and get more people covered." And that gave Bush a chance to say, "Yeah, me too."

We need to -- as a party -- develop a single Dem plan, one that makes sure every American is covered. Me? I favor single payer -- it's simple, and it keeps costs down. But if you develop a simple, easy to explain, and cost-effective plan that covers every single American while lowering health care costs, I'm all ears. The point is this: in 2006, we need to be able to say "We've got a plan that will make sure every American is covered, and it'll cut your family's health care costs. They don't. End of story." That's a winning message.

Don't forget that the demographics of the South have changed alot in the last 40 years. There are now a LOT of, pardon, yankees living in the larger cities of the South. The change in the voting history of the South is interesting, but I agree with the rest of you that we need to pick several issues related to fairness and pound on them. Egad, where I live most people I know are about a half step ahead of ruin. They are the fodder, and most of them either do not vote, or vote for repukes. Not all repukes are bad, only about 95% are.

Progressive Populism is the Key.

The times when the Democratic Party has been both strong and true to it's roots have been those times when it left no doubt that it was sticking out for the common man.

Republicans corrupted this by painting us as a party of welfare moms, thus alienating those who wanted to consider themselves "above" such persons, which includes most of the working poor who ought to vote Democratic on the issues.

Yet we have in truth been the champions of these same working poor just as the Repubilcans have been their enemies. We created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, safe workplace standards, even as the Repubicans fought tooth and nail to shoot them down.

Yet these truths are not only being forgotten but are being obliterated by strategically crafted Republican lies every day. As I write, Rove and the boys are selling FDR as one of THEIR supporters, and I'm sorry to say they will succeed unless we put big money into selling the truth as effectively as they can sell their lies.

Cookie is right. We don't need to change who we are. We need to SELL who we are to the South and we need to do it hard and fast. Huey Long was the ultimate populist and should be a principal roll model in our attempts to communicate effectively with the "common man" of the south (and everywhere).

The Democratic party can be the party of fairness, health care, fiscal responsibility and peace. The republicans are not able to offer any of those things at this time. Although Rovian manipulation may make black appear to be white, that's the message that the democrats need to get across. And yes, an actual plan, rather than "I've got a plan on health care" would be nice. I get hot under the collar as well....

jsmckay is correct that the answer is Progressive Populism. I'll be posting on that sometime in the next day or two. In the meantime, I'll just say that the idea of progressive populism of the kind that motivated the better, more principled urban Democratic machines in the first half of the 20th century lies behind our decision to call the blog The Next Hurrah.

I'll probably be posting "Why Call Our Blog 'The Next Hurrah'" on tomorrow, or more likely, Tuesday.

BTW, jsmckay, do you cover Freebird?


Don't egg me on like that. I can only rise to a challenge:


I just voted for Bush, now..
Cause I didn't have a brain...
Why, I'm as Freeped as a bird-brain..
And this bird will never change...
And this bird will never change...
(Despite all evidence to the contrary)

I look forward to your progressive populism post. I've got an obscure blog on the subject at www.progressivepopulism.blogspot.com

Cheers and good luck on thenexthurrah!

"NASCAR" does not equal "cretin" or "Bushie." http://savageuranus.blogspot.com/

Great Blog. I want to celebrate what's coming, not wallow in what's been!

The key to understanding this is to see clearly the emotional content of this red state/blue state dynamic. And here it is.

Red staters are, by definition, folks with a chip on their shoulder. They don't see their lifestyle, their heroes, their accents, etc. in the mainstream. It makes them think that somehow they aren't wanted, aren't good enough.

This gives them (a not 100% unjustified) inferiority complex of enormous proportions. So, to make them feel they're not being looked down on, they want a leader who can assure them he values what they value. And wind-surfing ain't it.

When Governor Huckabee signs up for uber-marriage, who is he trying to convince? Not blue-staters, that's for sure.

Red staters suffer from some of the worst conditions in our society. Poor educations, low-paying jobs, difficult family stresses (caused by one and two, no doubt). There's a reason they look at glitzy NY and LA and feel woefully inadequate.

We have got to remember that these folks are our fellow Americans and should be our fellow Democrats. Their voting against their interest for the Repubs has to end. To get there, rational arguments about why Bush is such a putz have to end. Nobody who matters cares. A clear majority of Americans like George Bush, largely because they think he's not gonna make fun of them and make them feel inferior. It's not like he advertises the fact that he's screwing them, and when folks like Al Gore and John Kerry try to explain it, they come off condescending.

To move forward, we need to offer these folks -- hell, all folks -- a positive vision of what we want them to join us in doing. Not us doing for them. Them joining with us. They will believe that the government is as much theirs as ours once we start acting like it.

With all due respect, you are generalizing way too much. There is a broad spectrum of red-staters. I know plenty of these "red-staters" who are college educated and making really good money. Perhaps working for an oil company. They are totally mainstream.

I agree with duhnonymous (again!) ( :=D

There's some grave danger in assuming homogeneity in these here parts --- and even greater danger in patronizing the red states, particularly the rural areas.

I do live in a pretty impoverished area, but I can promise you no one here would be at all pleased for anyone, Southern or not, to show up and tell them what's good for them.

They KNOW what they need and what works and they want opportunity and the ability to choose what's good for them. The problem is, no one's offering it. And, around here at least, the antics of government have left people pretty suspicious.

Add to that, where I am, people are actually pretty sweet natured on the whole, even the loudest of them. Sure, there's some real jerks - but they'd be jerks no matter where they are.

If you focus attention more on the rural-urban divide, rather than North-South, you'll start getting somewhere. That's where much of the problem lies --- what's good for the urbanites is frequently disastrous for rural people. Etc.

But the caricatures have got to go!

I agree with Jim: them joining us. It's not enough to talk about who you are, or what you offer, you have to deliver on the promise. Southern folk are no different from any other folk I've met except for one thing: they have an extremely senstive bullshit detector.

Moving forward with variants of politics as usual is a fatal flaw. Dems rail against "corporate greed" while keeping millions - MILLIONS - of locally donated funds at their own corporate headquarters; pound tables about the state of the poor, yet don't openly advocate for a living wage; bemoan the state of medicare cuts, yet won't unconditionally support a national health plan.

It's the people stupid. All 300 million of them. I swear the next time I hear "blue and red", or "values", or "the South" I'm gonna spit. The way to people's hearts and minds hasn't changed in millenia: ask what they need; do your damndest to get it for them; and don't ever lie to them. What's so hard about that?

Great post on a vital topic. And I love seeing the Kingfish getting talked about on blogs.

There's a group that's been pushing the progressive agenda in the South since the 70s -- The Institute for Southern Studies. They started a new blog recently and it's excellent. Anybody interested in this topic should absolutely bookmark FACING SOUTH and sign up for their biweekly (give or take) newsletter of the same name.

They have a great print magazine, too -- Southern Exposure.

Why do voters who have no health care continue to vote for a party that resists providing universal health care?

Because they don't want the government to do it for them. What they want, is that they believe that THOSE people, are actually holding them back, and if they were not held back, then they could afford their own health care and be happy.

See, what a lot of people miss is what was the Clinton message actually was. It was the economy stupid, but a lot closer to home, it was simple pocketbook economics.

What Clinton did, was he tapped into the inherent immorality that was bred during the Reagan revolution. The idea that me me me and only me matters. So people were willing to vote for him more.

With Gore and Kerry, they ran much more moral on a basis of the campaigns. It was about the greater good, about bettering society as a whole...

And they were largely rejected by the Southern male that you're trying to attract for it. Frankly, you're looking for the guy who's working hard, looking to provide for their family, and they don't really care about outside of their immediate community. Outside, it's just other people.

It's just not us.

What's the solution? We need to start breaking the shield that allows this. Morality is not just homosexuality and abortion. Morality is protecting the envrironment, caring for other people you don't even know, and generally looking for the upkeep of society.

Thanks for the heads-up, Mr. Rehm, long time no see.

Gotta agree with Trapper on health care. Lots of Dems trash single-payer as undoable, but, when you look at the mish-mash of proposals, single-payer is the one that solves most of the problems. It, of course, is also the one that gores the most plutocratic oxes, so getting it passed - even getting it discussed - without attracting a gigantic STFU smear campaign will be impossible. If there were only one issue the Dems had to run on in the South, this would be the one I choose. The good news is that it's not just a Southern issue, it has nothing to do with "Southern moral values," and it's not tied to visceral "Southern" issues like abortion or even civil rights.

Single-payer is what needs to happen of course, but I'm telling you MB, single payer is not going to attract these people. Mainly they won't think that their taxes is paying for their health care, but they'll think their money is going to those "other" people. And believe me, I say that in a completly non-racial sense. Anybody they disagree with or simply dislike. And that's a showstopper.

And listen, those "Southern moral values", are strictly designed to prevent anything like single-payer from happening. Because like I mentioned, those moral values are designed to protect a culture of me me me and fuck you too.

Look at how much Amway has spread among our target audience for this, which is White family men.

I am a Southerner (NC), and living in the blue oasis of the Triangle area. There is hope in some parts of the state, but trust me, I only have to drive a few miles outside the 'progressive bubble' to get a taste of tobacco juice, mud-running trucks and redneck "values".

Exhibit A: A wingnut Tar Heel's definition of a redneck and southern politics

Millions upon millions of damn Yankees (including me), love NASCAR. As a sportswriter, let me say, it's great copy, except for the boring part where they race.
NASCAR the business loves tha Northern kiss, with its corporate tongue. NASCAR's southern fans resent the change, as who wouldn't? There's no reason for Democrats to ignore NASCAR. Rest assured NASCAR doesn't ignore Democrats.

I'm sorry, NASCAR is boring as sin. And I say that as a serious sports fan.

The problem is, almost no one knows what it's like to drive NASCAR. It is exhausting, the cockpit reaches 130 degrees, and you are constnatly fighting fierce winds, other drivers, and the limit of adhesion. Tracks get mighty slippery when it's 90 degrees out, and pulling 3 g's after 2 hours of this punishment gets a little difficult. Doing the Be Oetty experience with Mickey Mouse gives you no idea. Why do they spin so much? Because they are on the limit of adhesion, which mst people in street life reach only when they crash.

NASCAR is a tough, demanding sport with no forgiveness. If your basketball goes out of bounds, the other team tosses it back in. If your car goes "out of bounds", you die. Who earns their money harder?

I do believe Southerners are sturdier than Northerners, in many ways. I am married to a Yankee, and I've seen his relatives check into mental wards for what for me would amount to a bad day. I just don't get it. Bad things happen and you deal with it. I found this interesting link though. Maybe there are truly genetic differences between Southerners and Northerners.


I have worked or lived in all over the country; in fact I have managed to travel in all but two of the 50 States, namely, Oregon and Alaska. I have also lived and worked in Washington, DC on K Street two blocks from the Whitehouse. In my humble opinion, if the people of the District had just a smidgen of the common sense exhibited by the average person in Kansas, Alabama, Montana, Mississippi, Georgia or Virginia, just to name a few, we would be in good shape today.

I have also been to over a dozen major NASCAR events around the country and have seen well over a million happy contented (and yes, slightly inebriated) race fans. Now this is a real million people we are talking about here, not to be confused with the wild estimates surrounding the million man march. In all that time, in all those places, I have never seen fist fight, a robbery, a serious accident, anyone doing illegal drug. I can’t say the same for the right field bleachers at Fenway Park or I-Street in the District.

In my opinion liberal Democrats just don’t get it when it comes to southern culture and NASCAR fans. My fervent hope is that it stays that way!

Rich Daigle

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