Map #1. The Southernization of America: Division of red vs. blue states for the 2012 election.
The map above shows the spreading Southernization of America in terms of which states voted for Barack Obama (in blue) and which states voted for Mitt Romney (in red). The numbers reflect the number of electoral college votes per state, with the more highly-populated states tending to vote Democratic.
In the mid-20th century, we had the best of everything and the most broadly-shared wealth of any society ever known to humankind. After the Great Depression, the Democrats enacted a series of programs in the 1930’s–1960’s that lifted millions out of abject poverty and into the middle class. Although some were dragged into the 20th century kicking and screaming, the much-loved President Dwight D. Eisenhower and many other Republicans also supported these programs.
Then, the civil rights movement came along, and many resented being forced to share their new-found prosperity with people of color. Plus, our women were getting uppity and those damn hippies were out of control.
In the late 1960’s, the Southernization of America began in earnest. The GOP figured out that many of us would rather sink back into the rampant poverty our forebears suffered and fought to end, than pay even a nickel in taxes that might help “those people.” By “those people,” we mean lazy, undeserving people who don’t look like us. GOP leaders then mapped out a “Southern Strategy” that targeted the white “Moral Majority” and played to their racism and fear of a swiftly-changing world.
The above map shows how Southern “values” have radiated out from the Old South into the Northern, Western and even some Northeastern states. As Lind remarks, the staunch conservatives of the South may now vote Republican instead of Democratic, but they’re still up to their same old tricks.
Now that they dominate the Republican party, Southern conservatives are using it to carry out the same strategies that they promoted during the generations when they controlled the Democratic Party, from the days of Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren to the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, the oligarchs of the American South have sought to defend the Southern system, what used to be known as the Southern Way of Life.
Continues on the next page: Map #2. The Southernization of America: Percent of Adults Who’ve Attained at Least a High School Education.