It is easy to say that it is only racism that gets Southerners to vote Republican. "Scratch a Republican, see the white robes underneath", as I said in an earlier message. But it's more fundamental than that, and while racism is involved, it isn't the fundamental reason why the South votes Republican in national elections. The fundamental reason -- the reason that, amongst all other reasons, is most responsible for driving Southerners to vote for Republicans -- is a failure of hope.
From 1932 to 1960, national politics dominated by Democrats brought enormous gains to the South. The rural South gained electricity, telephone service, and indoor plumbing. The average Southerner went from being a subsistence farmer living in a tar paper shack under conditions reminiscent of the Third World, to living a somewhat normal American life.
And then the progress stopped -- with life in the South still being one of comparative poverty and deprivation compared to that in the rest of the nation. With Southern children still receiving an inadequate education, and Southern politicians still using electoral corruption and rigged laws to make sure that a small elite continued to control Southern politics. And since 1970, things have even started sliding backwards somewhat in the South, as factories close and move to China and elsewhere. And the response of the Democrats on a national level was... [crickets].
The fact of the matter is that Southerners have simply lost faith in the national government and its ability to build a better life for all. When Democrats make promises, Southerners look at those pretty promises and say, "Yes, I heard those same promises from LBJ." Southerners have simply lost faith in the ability and willingness of a Democratic Party dominated by big cities in the North and Pacific coast to address their needs. Thus they vote for the party that promises to drown the national government in a bathtub. At least then they won't be paying as many taxes to be misgoverned, the thinking goes.
Democrats will re-gain power in Washington some day, unless the Busheviks engineer a coup and declare the end of the Republic. If nothing else, the reaction of the ruling oligarchy to continuing Republican misrule will insure this. But if they obtain power and still do nothing to improve living conditions for all Americans -- including those in the South who did not vote for them -- they risk seeing their experience in the South extending nationwide. A Party that does not keep its promises is a Party that is doomed to extinction. If after regaining power the Democrats do not implement a French-style medical system, address the loss of good-paying jobs and declining standard of living of a large swathe of America, and otherwise behave as a party of the people rather than as just another arm of the ruling oligarchy, they risk going the same way as the Whigs. Whether that will be enough incentive for the Democratic heirarchy to risk bucking the ruling oligarchs and bring in reforms that improve the life of the average American... well, that remains to be seen.
- Badtux the Hope Penguin