By Hunter Wallace
I’m coming across this more and more in my research into the history of the Southern economy. Consider the following:
1.) Rep. Carter Glass of Virginia, who sponsored the Federal Reserve Act as Chairman of the House Committee on Currency and Banking, also supported the Virginia constitution of 1902 to “eliminate every Negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate.”
2.) President Woodrow Wilson, the most famous “progressive” of the 20th century, resegregated the federal government for the first time since the Lincoln administration.
3.) Cordell Hull of Tennessee was the father of the income tax.
4.) During the Great Depression, the Glass-Steagall Act was passed which created FDIC insurance and separated investment banking from commercial banking. Sen. Carter Glass, now Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Rep. Henry Steagall of Alabama, now Chairman of the House Committee on Currency and Banking presided over the regulation of the banking system during the 1930s.
Henry Steagall was from Ozark, AL. He must have represented my grandparents during the Great Depression.
5.) Did you know that Alabama had the most “liberal” congressional delegation in the country from the New Deal to the Brown decision? Before “big government” came to be identified with the Civil Rights Movement, Southerners strongly supported it.
6.) FDR won every Southern state in landslide elections four times. Nowhere was support for “big government” stronger than in North Alabama thanks to the TVA and the triumphs of the labor movement during the Great Depression which brought huge benefits to Alabama’s industrial workforce in Birmingham.
7.) LBJ, of course, was the ultimate “big government” Democrat.
The moral of the story: White Southerners were a key part of the New Deal coalition until Truman and LBJ pulled the temple down by supporting the Civil Rights Movement to appease the northern wing of the Democratic Party. Far from being natural libertarians, the Republican Party was anathema in the South for over a century.
The fact is, Southerners had supported raising taxes, unionization, regulating the economy, and reigning in Wall Street UNTIL “big government” came to mean things like abortion and civil rights RATHER than economic programs that helped build the middle class. It has taken fifty years, but now all those White Southern voters who had supported FDR have been pushed into the Republican Party where the White working class now outnumbers suburban professionals.
The ideology of the GOP hasn’t caught up with the demographics of the party which is why the base, which is largely Southern and Western, is revolting against the Republican establishment, which is still largely Northeastern and based in wealthy enclaves around the country. Trump is cleverly exposing the fact that the base of the party has never really believed in the “conservative” ideology.
Where did this “populism” that has suddenly infected the “conservative base” come from? Only someone who is completely ignorant of Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, FDR and George Wallace is mystified by what is going on in the 2016 presidential election.
If Southerners truly believed in “conservatism,” they would be ecstatic for ¡Jeb! whose platform is free-trade, open borders, deregulation, low-taxes, and gutting welfare state programs. The only thing that could motivate Southerners to vote for someone like McCain, Romney,or ¡Jeb! is a visceral dislike of Hillary and Obama.
The dog-whistling and token gestures to White voters played a key role in holding the GOP together for decades. ¡Jeb! has proven that a Republican will go down in flames without it.
Note: Watch the latest poor little ¡Jeb! video: