Wednesday, January 30, 2013


The Confederacy just keeps trying, doesn't it? First, the issue was keeping black people as slaves. Then, it was keeping black people segregated from "real" Americans - keeping them from water coolers, schoolrooms, and voting booths alike.

And now, it's that black man in the White House. What's a racist to do?

But it's not just Mississippi trying to "nullify" federal laws. To my embarrassment, I see that Nebraska is included on Stephen Colbert's map. Well, we seem more like the Deep South here all the time.

In the late 20th Century, with the old-time Dixiecrats taking over the Republican Party, joining with the John Birchers after the GOP's 'Southern strategy' put all of our crazies into one basket, the entire party became an offshoot of the same kind of thinking America has struggled to rise above since our founding.

The South had been solidly Democratic for more than a century - since before the Civil War, in fact. But the Dixiecrats were increasingly unhappy with northern Democrats who tended to favor civil rights for racial minorities. (In fact, they ran Strom Thurmond, on a segregationist platform, as a third party candidate for president in 1948 and nearly cost Harry Truman the election.)

After Texas Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, outlawing state-sponsored racial segregation, Republican leaders saw their chance. In their notorious 'Southern strategy,' they deliberately worked to attract white racists, to resounding success. They quickly took the entire South and have used that political power ever since to drag America to the right.

But the Confederacy is now the Republican base. Today, there's no part of our country as solidly Republican as the Deep South, and that gives white southerners a lot of power. Unfortunately, their kind of thinking isn't restricted to the South (nor are all southerners alike, of course).

In many ways, this is the same kind of thinking which fought to retain slavery, which opposed letting women vote, which kept even freed African Americans from opportunity for more than a hundred years. They push states rights only because they don't have a majority in America.

They're also busy trying to find other ways to keep political power as a minority in our country. Note that, thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans are still solidly in control of the House of Representatives (by more than 30 votes), despite losing the popular vote by more than a million in the last election.

The Senate stays closely divided because rural states, far lower in population than urban states, get the same two senate seats. That gives a lot more political power, per capita, to rural Americans than to urban Americans (one reason why the farm lobby is so powerful - and the NRA, too).

And Republicans are now working to suppress voting - to make it harder even to register to vote - and working on schemes to change the electoral college, in blue states only, to guarantee a permanent Republican presidency, despite losing the popular vote. Well, if they can't convince you, they'll take power any way they can.

So far, secession talk has only been talk, this time. But there's certainly been a lot of violent rhetoric from the right, hasn't there? I wonder if they really are willing to take power any way they can.

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