Larry Sabato, one of the most well known political scientists in America, has peered into his Crystal Ball and seen “Fortress Dixie.”
We have been discussing the construction of Fortress Dixie here for about a year now. The term refers to our theory that racial attitudes are hardening in Dixie and the South is moving away from the two-party system of the Sunbelt era and is returning to the one-party system of the Jim Crow era.
As of October 2011, there is only one White Southern Democrat left in the House from the Deep South, Rep. John Barrow of Georgia. In the Senate, Sen. Mary Landrieu is the last White Southern Democrat standing from the Deep South.
“We’re seeing the last of the white Democrats elected in the Deep South. It’s amazing,” said Ray Strother, a veteran political consultant who has had many Southern Democratic clients. “The Democratic party in the Deep South has become a party of African Americans.”
If Barrow is discouraged, the moderate 55-year-old former Athens City councilman and Clarke County commissioner who is serving his fourth term isn’t showing it. Last week, after Georgia Republicans unveiled their redistricting plan that dismantles his once-Democratic-friendly Savannah-area seat, Barrow said in a statement that he looks “forward to getting to know the new constituents drawn in to Georgia’s 12th District, and building on the friendships I’ve formed with folks who still call the 12th District home.”
Looking ahead, Sabato has Republicans picking up Arkansas 4 and Oklahoma 2, which are open seats that have been abandoned by retiring Blue Dogs. He has also forecasted John Barrow (Georgia 12), Brad Miller (North Carolina 13), and Larry Kissell (North Carolina-8) losing to Republican challengers.
Heath Shuler (North Carolina 11) and Mike McIntyre (North Carolina-7) are in toss up races. In the not so distant future, there won’t be a single White Southern Democrat in the House of Representatives from a majority White district within the ethnocultural borders of Dixie.
It is important to keep in mind here that as recently as the 2010 midterm elections there were lots of White Southern Democrats in the House: Chet Edwards (Texas 17), Ike Skelton (Missouri 4), Gene Taylor (Mississippi 4), Alan Nunnelee (Mississippi 1), Bobby Bright (Alabama 2), Parker Griffith (Alabama 5), Jim Marshall (Georgia 8), John Spratt (South Carolina 5), Bob Etheridge (North Carolina 2), Rick Boucher (Virginia 9), Glenn Nye (Virginia 2), Tom Perriello (Virginia 5), etc.
The Democratic Party had a moderate wing from Dixie that restrained the progressive caucus from the Left Coast and New England in the House. Now that has been obliterated. Daily Kos has succeeded in driving out the Blue Dogs.
What is the future of the Democratic Party in the South? There is almost nothing left in the House (Ben Chandler in Kentucky 6, Nick Rahall in West Virginia 3) but the congressional districts which represent the black holes and brown holes.
In 1968, George Wallace famously quipped: “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties.” That was true of his age.
Under LBJ, the Democratic Party threw White Southerners under the bus to appease its ascendant Northern wing which supported the Civil Rights Movement. The Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, was still controlled by its Northeastern establishment.
That’s why there wasn’t “a dime’s worth of difference” between the two parties. From the Southern point of view, both major political parties were dominated by liberal Northerners, and both towed the same line on the sanctity of the “Civil Rights Movement.”
Sunbelt politics have been defined by the two-party system created by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the realignment of Dixie toward the Republican Party. It has been a slow and gradual process.
When the realignment first began, the Republican base in the South was in the suburbs, where the moderate Whites lived who had liberal attitudes on social issues, and the Democratic base was in the rural areas where the overwhelming majority of Southern conservatives lived.
Over the past several decades, the number of Southern conservatives abandoning the Democratic Party has accelerated. As their numbers have surged within the Republican Party, it has pushed the Republican Party in an ever more conservative direction, and pushed suburban moderates out toward the Democratic Party.
Increasingly, the Republican Party resembles the Democratic Party of the Jim Crow South. The fight between the “conservative base” and the “Republican establishment” is really a fight between Southern and Western conservatives (i.e., White Christians who are the overwhelming majority of Republican voters) and the diminished moderate Northeastern wing for dominance within the GOP.
The struggle has become more intense in recent years with the rise of the Tea Party because the Democratic Party has become increasingly inhospitable to Southern and Western conservatives who may have supported Blue Dog candidates.
Underneath the Republican Party, the Solid South is being reconstructed. Candidates like Bill Clinton, Mark Warner, and Jim Webb are becoming unfeasible within the Democratic Party. This is why we have seen this massive decline in the Democratic Party across Greater Appalachia.
As the Southwest has become ever more racially diverse, the Whites who live in that region have grown more racial and desperate to control the border. Arizona has been transformed into the Alabama of the Southwest. Colorado has been similarly affected, but this is masked by the influx of SWPLs from California.
Democratic strategists naively assume that Barack Hussein Obama is becoming “increasingly competitive” in swing states in the Sunbelt like Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
There is some truth to this: Obama rode to victory in 2008 on the back of the gentry liberal strategy in Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. Sheer desperation and the demoralization of the Republican base were important factors in his electoral victories in all four states.
What hasn’t yet occurred to Democratic strategists and to the Mainstream Media is that the Sunbelt era is over now. It was the Sunbelt economy that brought millions of Hispanics to Dixie, that led to the construction of suburbia, that allowed millions of White Southerners to go to college to be exposed to liberal ideas, that moderated racial conflict by allowing Southerners to escape from the Black Undertow, that gave plausibility to the idea that the Civil Rights Movement represented “racial progress.”
What comes after the Sunbelt though? We are witnessing the death of the Sunbelt on live television.
What happens to Florida when its tourist industry collapses? What happens to Virginia when the federal government goes bankrupt? What happens to Georgia when the suburban sprawl economy dies? What happens to Texas when the federal government destroys the value of our national currency? What happens to the entire South when the American Empire collapses and the Pentagon budget is slashed?
Those are fascinating questions.
Few political pundits have given much serious thought to “post-Sunbelt Dixie.” They haven’t even recognized the death of the Sunbelt yet or traced the root causes of the permanent economic downward spiral that we have entered.
Just how deep are the roots of Black Run Amerika in Dixie? Do White Southerners really and truly believe in the gospel of anti-racism and multiculturalism? Do they really and truly believe in the Civil Rights Martyrs like Rosa Parks, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the deepest depths of their souls?
If the South is so committed to Black Run Amerika, why are White Southern Democrats a vanishing species? Why is the Juan Crow system being constructed in Dixie? Why did the Rick Perry presidential campaign collapse over the Texas DREAM Act? Why have CNN and MSNBC lost all of their credibility?
Interesting times are ahead.