Can the Racists and Evangelicals be Isolated and Immobilized?

As the Republican Party continues to eat itself tail first, I wonder if we’re on the verge of something that may be positive for the country.  I’m not naive enough to think that what might be in store is a “permanent Democratic majority” or a prolonged era of liberal relief to the conservative oppression we’ve suffered under for so long.  But perhaps we’re in the process of exorcising a demon or two from the center stage of our politics.

If you go back to the sixties and before, Northern Democrats suffered with the unholy alliance that Republicans now suffer with.  They achieved their goals for labor and the middle class only with the support of the demographically overlapping racist and evangelical Dixiecrats of the deep South.  The successful civil rights movement of the 1960’s and Roe v. Wade in 1972 was a one-two punch that deeply alienated the racist, evangelical Dixiecrats from the Democratic Party.  Richard Nixon saw them in play and courted them with both coded and not so coded racist themes and talk of the “silent majority” of religious people with no political voice.

The Democratic party is lucky to have survived the disintegration of that coalition, given the numbers involved, and in fact the conversion of Southern racists and evangelicals from Democrats to Republicans set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s stalking horse inventions of “welfare queens” and “family values”, to say nothing of Newt Gingrich’s successful courting of the uneducated and paranoid.

While politically disastrous for the Democratic Party, as the intervening decades have been a political and cultural bloodbath for them, the racist, evangelical Dixiecrats were a cancer anyway and ultimately the party has gained enormous intellectual integrity for having lost them.  What is interesting now is that the cancer has completely consumed its new Republican host to the point that it has not only lost its liberal wing, but it no longer has even a functioning moderate element.  The Republican party of our parents, that rode to victory with the power it got from the cancerous Dixiecrats… has now become all cancer.

As a result, the Democratic Party has been gathering Republican defectors for decades; people who had been traditional Republicans along with people who came of age later and would have been Republicans had it not been for the racist, evangelical tilt.

But now the liberal / progressive Democratic party once again finds itself powerful because of awkward alliances with people who do not really understand each others’ world view.  The two most obvious examples of this are probably recent convert Arlan Spector and Joe Lieberman, who has seemingly made a career out of defecating where he eats.  But there are a lot more.  The entire contingent of “Blue Dog Democrats” are really traditional Republicans.  They have found themselves unwelcome in the extreme conservatism of what is left of the Republican Party, but they are uncomfortable around liberal and progressive Democrats, and we are uncomfortable around them.

Ultimately, it seems that the Democratic party will have to split, yet again, because over the long haul, the alliance of traditional Democrats and homeless Republicans is not going to work.  Our ideals and philosophies are too far apart, even if we agree in principle that we don’t want anything to do with the racists and evangelicals of the old South.  The question is, what then?  Without a majority capable of gaining power will the old Dixiecrats end up a tie-breaker that both parties court, to the peril of us all?  Will the purely conservative Republican party collapse in on itself sending its one again disenfranchised cancer cells to invade one of the new parties?  Or will traditional Democrats and traditional Republicans get back to fighting our policy in the halls of government with the racists and evangelicals safely isolated, unwelcome and unwilling at anyone’s table?

That is what I hope for.  A robust debate between old style Democrats, less the racists, and old style Republicans less the overly evangelicals, to lead the country forward with intellectual integrity on both sides and, perhaps, one day, even a little respect.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Can the Racists and Evangelicals be Isolated and Immobilized?

  1. William Capra

    Thank you for singing my song.

    Near as I can tell we have two nutso fringes operating. On the right, we have the racist/homophobic/Christian-Taliban. On the left, we have, well, they’re largely suppressed, so we probably don’t have a good name for them.

    In the middle, we have what we might call the “Center-Rights” and the “Center-Lefts.” Unfortunately, as you point out, the “center-rights” have been thrown out the Republican Party and have fetched up in the Democratic Party. (aside: you can tell a Center-Right Republican (CRR) from a Hard-Right Replublican (HRR) by whether he uses the “ic” in the “D” party’s name).

    I think a split in the Democratic Party is inevitable, and I think, it’s a good thing for the Republic. It would be good to have some debates about real issues, such as health care, education, “welfare” services, taxation, etc. without the debate degenerating into absurdities like “read my lips” and Harry and Louise.

    Quite honestly, I’m not sure where I would find my home in this. I think the Blue Dog position is reasonable. As I understand it it’s “If we spend money for yada yada, we either have to save it somewhere else, or take the heat for raising taxes to pay for it.”

    In general, I’m for a lot of public issues, but I’m certainly against using voodoo to pay for it and hoping that inflation makes it go away.

    Socially, I’m probably far left, although I would define myself as a conservative, as in: Keep the dadgum gummit out of my bedroom, my church (if any), my doctor’s office, etc.

    So. Is the Whig name still available? Maybe the D’s could split into “true” D’s and Whigs? Leave the R’s controlling 21% of the electorate and good luck. There’s probably about the same on the left and they can have their pitched battles (Is there a Rush Limbaugh of the left?). The rest of us can run the country with real debates on real differences in addressing real issues.

  2. krouda

    There is no Limbaugh of the left.

    When lefties try to sound mean, they just sound funny.
    When righties try to sound funny, they just sound mean.

    Hence, Al Franken, Jon Stewart and, if I were ever to get a sex change operation, my to be hoped for lesbian lover Rachel Maddow are as close as we seem to be able to come.

  3. Conservative Republicans are proposing a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles of the party. This approach reminds me of Moody’s Fundamentals of Christianity, which began the fundamentalist movement. For more, I recommend http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/the-fundamentals-of-the-gop/

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