Why Democrats Are Losing The South
Zell Miller has weighed with some keen observations about why the Democrats are losing in the South and I agree with everything he wrote. But as a Southern boy who has grown up in North Carolina and who currently lives in Charlotte, I think I can sum things up for the Democrats in three easy steps.
1) First and foremost, Southern Democrats just tend to be much more conservative than the Democratic party as a whole. So as Miller pointed out in the editorial linked above, the very things that a Democratic candidate has to do to win in places like Iowa and New Hampshire are going to turn off a lot of Democrats in the South. Down here, it’s not unusual to find Democrats who like guns & hunting, who are serious about national defense, and who actually LIKE Bill O’Reilly’s socially conservative rants. These are not “Ted Kennedy” Democrats.
2) Again, as Miller says, “If Southern voters think you don’t understand them — or even worse, much worse, if they think you look down on them — they will never vote for you.” The reality is, a lot of Southerners believe — quite correctly I might add — that many Northern liberals look down on them as ignorant, racist, hicks.
Now, why is that? I think a lot of it has to do with #3….
3) Many left-of-center Northerners do not understand how the Civil War and the Confederate flag are viewed by many people in South. MOST Southerners are not ashamed of their heritage & they don’t believe that Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, etc, were bad or evil people. While they’re likely to admit that the rich Southern plantation owners were fighting to keep slavery (although you’re almost as likely to hear people say and believe that the Confederates were really fighting for states rights), they will also tell you — correctly — that the average Southern soldier was out in the field risking his life to keep the Union army from menacing his home and his family.
So as you’d expect, the overwhelming majority of Southerners are not pro-slavery, they’re not racists, and they’re not waiting for the day that the “South will rise again”. To the contrary, they view the war between the states much like a terrible spat between brothers that got a lot of good, decent, & honorable men killed on both sides, rather than some cataclysmic battle between good and evil that their ancestors were on the wrong side of.
So when a Democratic candidate sneers at the Confederate flag as if it were a Swastika, he is also sneering at the way a lot of good and decent people in the South view themselves and their history. As a general rule, Republican candidates seem to almost intuitively understand all of this which is another big reason why the GOP has been getting stronger and stronger in the South over the years while the Dems continue to sink.
***Update***: I just wanted to respond to something kghahn said in the comments. In part, he said, “Some of my ancestors probably fought some of John’s. I have no affection at all for the Confederacy.”
I have no idea what my family history looks like past my grandfather who fought in WW2. I don’t even know which side my ancestors fought on in the Civil War (maybe both, ya never know), which country my relatives came to America from, or much of anything about where my family roots were planted. Maybe I’ll look into it some day, but to be honest, that sort of thing has never peaked my interest.