Saturday, August 25, 2007

Going Right

An interesting take on the shift in the South by Matthew Yglesias where he says he disagrees with Paul Krugman's take on why the South went Republican.

I think Yglesias's points are good ones, but it's a distinct generalization to argue that the South has been decidedly anti-tax or anti-government. In fact, for much of the 20th century, the South was very much a populist stronghold that embraced the ideals of the New Deal.

Matters of race ultimately cemented the shift. That, and an effective public relations campaign by the GOP designed to convince white Southerners that conservative positions were actually populist ... something I'd disagree with, but can recognize nonetheless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that race shoved the South fully into the GOP column (you can even see it as early as 1964- take a look at the electoral map of the LBJ landslide). However, there was strong resistance to many of the actual New Deal policy implmentations from the south. While guys like Josiah Bailey and other Southern Senators worked to get FDR elected, they still fought the actual implementation of things like the NRA and AAA. Bailey, in fact, helped write "The Conservative Manifesto" some 30 years before Bill Miller and Goldwater reshaped the GOP.

Sorry about any potential typos- word is down on my computer...

JMAC look for more fantasy fftball stuff very soon.


10:15 AM  
Blogger Xon said...

Also, consider the southern Agrarians, who at least represent some basic sampling of southern thought at the time. They mostly supported FDR in 1932, but then regretted it almost immediately when his policies appeared to be little more than 'socialism.' But they WERE southern populists, in the sense that they wanted southern people (and not just big business or other special interests) to make out in the world. But 'big government' has never been an acceptable way to accomplish that goal in the region that Jefferson called home.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one factor in the republican-izing of the South is the migration of economic conservatives from other regions. The face of southern, republican politics might still have a twang, but there is a strong contingent of what traditionally would have been country club republicans -from other parts of the country - that are populating the suburbs of Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa, etc.


8:46 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Good points, but I also wouldn't be so quick to dismiss this notion of the South being more open to the ideals of the New Deal. FDR was overwhelmingly popular in Georgia and elsewhere throughout the South, and programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Works Projects Administration were viewed quite favorably in the South.

Much of the anti-New Deal bluster came from existing politicians in the South who had held their seats for many, many years. They viewed FDR as a threat to their holds on power (the example of Huey Long being the most obvious), meaning the historical accounts of opposition against FDR stem primarily from political leaders preoccupied with personal dislike and not necessarily a massive ideological divide between the Southern populace and the Roosevelt administration.

10:54 AM  

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