No, Democrats Should Not Abandon The South

Bayou Sara, Louisiana. Original artwork by Manny Schewitz.

Bayou Sara, Louisiana. Original artwork by Manny Schewitz.

In an opinion piece recently published over at The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky wrote that Democrats should “dump Dixie” after the defeat of Senator Mary Landrieu here in Louisiana.

In case you have not been paying attention, now that Mary Landrieu is gone, there’s only one Democratic senator from the Deep South, and that’s Bill Nelson of Florida.

Just a year ago, people (myself included) were excited about the possibility of Wendy Davis potentially winning the governor’s race in Texas. With Texas going blue, that would potentially create a domino effect that would cascade to even the deepest of red states – or so we had hoped.

Now with the defeat of Mary Landrieu, some folks like Michael Tomasky believe that Democrats should write off the South as a total loss and concentrate on more ideological purity; at least that’s what I’m taking away from his statement:

At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try. (Source)

In my opinion, this is a stupid and elitist way of backing away from a fight just because things got a little bit hard and the party couldn’t bring out voters in 2010 or 2014. It’s fair to point to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the catalyst for the move of conservative Democrats to the Republican Party, but simply saying the South is racist and should be written off is misguided and arrogant. The sad thing is that Michael Tomasky isn’t the only one who feels this way. I see many liberals and Democrats regularly make comments about how pretty much everyone down here is an ignorant, cousin-marrying, gun-toting, racist redneck and that it would be better just to let the South secede. It’s easy to sit at your coffee shop in San Francisco, New York or Seattle and write dismissive articles scoffing at the ignorance of people who aren’t lucky or financially able enough to live in your bastion of liberalism. Want to try something hard? Try living in the Bible Belt and being a LGBT person, an atheist or just someone who doesn’t vote for Republicans and is capable of critical thinking. Try being a union member in a “right to work” state and working for a living, all while watching Republicans strip away workers’ rights with little to no opposition from Democrats who seem reluctant to do anything more than send out fundraising emails.

And now liberals and Democrats want to turn tail and just go back to defending their comfortable home turf, leaving the rest of us behind enemy lines to fend for ourselves? I don’t think so – not if I have anything to say about it. I don’t know about you, but the next time I get another one of those solicitation emails from the DNCC or, I’m going to happily remind them that since they didn’t bother fighting for Democrats down south, I’m not going to bother sending them my hard-earned money. After all, if you aren’t willing to fight on my behalf, in my district, in my state, then why should I bother helping, or voting for you?

Just recently we were talking about Republicans fading into obscurity and only representing small, rural pockets of the United States. Yet Democrats are abandoning Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy and are considering only representing easily won areas of the country? That sounds a lot like conceding defeat to me, and I don’t believe in surrendering just because times got a little bit tough. No wonder Democrats are having a hard time getting voters to turn out.


Facebook comments

  • Giant Monster Gamera

    Mary Landrieu voted with the Democrats more than 75% of the time. Her replacement never will. The purity police have to go.

  • DownriverDem

    The folks in the south prove over and over that we should have let them leave in the 1860s. As an independent free thinking woman, I would never go there and certainly never live there. Sorry, until they prove that they aren’t racist, anti gay, anti women, anti science and anti diversity, I want nothing to do with them. They have made our country look like a bunch of ignorant hateful fools.

    • Matt Cook

      I don’t think the article was necessary. This ignorant-ass comment made the point better than it could.

    • Shannon

      Your attitude seems a bit discriminating to me. Born and raised in the south, I am a Democrat that spends every day trying to get others rethink their stereotypes. If liberals in the south just abandon it, who would be here to lead by example? But feel free stay where you are with your attitude.

  • Macdoodle

    The tide has shifted….the mid terms reflect what Americans think about liberals running this country.

    • Bill Grant

      Not really….if you pay attention to the numbers, it was really just about 18% of the population that showed that they think that.

      • DavidD

        Now you gone and done it and brought up facts.Doodle bug likes to make up his own “facts” and then come on a leftist site to impress us with his savvy political parrot RWNJ nonsense.
        We both know it’s a stupid thing to do but this keeps him off the street so he won’t shame his family.
        How could you be so cruel?

    • Julie Wickstrom

      Mid-terms showed complacency. It showed that bullying (my friend in Chicago had I.D. and a voter card and was still harassed trying to vote). I voted. I think a good number of my friends voted. I’m not sure what happened everywhere else. In two years, we will see.

      • DavidD

        For the last thirty years I’ve voted in a county that is 70% straight GOP ticket. here in East Texas.
        I refuse to give up and if I live long enough in 2016 I’ll vote the straight Democratic ticket once again.
        It’s not that the Democratic party really represents my intrest because they don’t but there is no Labor party so they right now they are the only game in town and the GOP here is getting in Francisco(still dead) Franco territory more and more..It gets worse every election.
        There is a lot of resentment towards liberals because many are arrogant elitists who would rather preach at us with barely concealed scorn.
        As people of petit bourgeoise origin they are not comfortable dealing with working class people not only down here but nationwide and seem to be content to shout insults from the sidelines which cannot be heard over the Republican sound machine.
        The GOP has worked hard playing on people’s fears,insecurities and prejudices.
        They empowered the evangelicals whose preachers give their congregations marching orders every Sunday and the Chamber of Commerce works hard to pust their bullshit but they at least talk to us while the national and state Democratic Party either don’t do dick or runs candidates just barely to the left of the GOP.
        We were miltant supporters of FDR because we felt he loved us and understood us.
        If you want to change this around then you will have to work at it hard and listen more than you talk.
        Most liberals find it easier to assume we need to come up to their obvious superior level and kiss their ass and folks that is not going to happen..

  • Kris Weibel

    I am a democrat living in the south and agree, the people here are filled with fear and hate. They hate everyone who is not a white penis over 50. Just look at the laws, they truly are from the 1800’s.

  • Eg Kbbs

    If the dems want to re-win the south, they’re going to have to come to terms that the region still has a deep seated hatred for the other parts of the country telling them what they have to do going back to states-rights pre-civil war and intensified by the carpetbaggers.

    Brought us first the folks that became dixiecrats (as in conservative and states-rights) and not swapped to Tea Bag repubs.

    • DavidD

      Actually most of us have no such feelings at all.Know it all Yankees are annoying as hell on the work site but that is a function of individuality not geography.
      Most of us like you wake up in the morning and go to jobs where we work for wages and try to live decent lives.
      The teahadist among us,a small minority is not who most of us really are.Most of us are a lot like you because we are you,citizens of a common nation..
      Most of us don’t vote because neither party represents our intrest and people are tired of feeling cheated,manipulated and lied to by politicans whose only concern is their own intrest.
      Our culture is different from yours but Jesus people are moving to the states from all over the world and our differences don’t soley define us .
      It’s criminally stupid for working class people to kill each other for religon or differences in politics.
      You are very right in your views but mistaken on their ubiquity.We shouldn’t let fanantics divide us but together drive them back to the margins where they belong..

  • sherry06053

    I lived in east TX from 1979-1983. Almost 5 years. Originally from liberal CT, it was the WORST years in my life. Married and with a small child, I left my husband, my house and what few people I liked and moved back to CT, because there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to have my child growing up learning their values and beliefs. I never knew what true bigotry was until I lived there, and it is ugly. I have never regretted my decision. My daughter never learned bigotry and hate. She grew up with a very good education. It was the hardest thing I ever did and what I am most proud of. The south is everything they say it is and they can have it.

    • DavidD

      Glad you moved.I’ve lived in East Texas for thirty five years as a Social Democrat and the people here are some of the nicest people you every want to meet.
      I love my home and my culture and know we have lots of probems but that is what love is,loving something even if you know it’s far from perfect.
      You obviously had expectations that things were to be set up to suit you and it would be just like CT and when that didn’t happen you blamed us rather than your own attitude.
      I’m glad the oil industry is busting so we can get rid of all the know it all yankees we have to tolerate now.
      A lot of good people have moved here from all over the world and we welcome them including a lot of good people from up north.
      You obviously aren’t one of them .
      You are a bigot and a hater of us but that doesn’t count because in your general view we don’t meet your ignorant expectations.
      Quit kidding yourself yourself you are no better than a lot of people you love to look down on…

      • sherry06053

        You’re one of them! OMG! “Yeah, I’ve traveled. I’ve been to Lake Charles once”. Horrible, ignorant, hateful, bigoted, uneducated people. You hate the Mexicans. You hate the Asians. You hate the Blacks. But there’s a church on every street. At the mercy of the oil refineries. The smell in the summer kept you inside because you couldn’t breath. And the hurricanes…drainage ditches in front of the houses instead of a system. I lived in Beaumont – I hear they have a federal prison now. Wooo hooo! Gross! “Far from perfect” is an understatement! Nothing but country music no matter where you went. I grant you, you have your ways and I absolutely did not fit in, but I was married to a federal employee – so I took the kid and left to a place where schools educated the truth, and where we have a separation of state and church, and where football wasn’t the only thing in everyone’s lives. I spent my first 2 or 3 years making fun of you all, but you never “got it”, which used to make me laugh and laugh. You only love it because it’s ALL you know. Travel. See some of country. Some of the world…you will find that the rest of us don’t think the way you do. But it you do, sit back and listen and don’t talk until you actually know what you are talking about. Information and experience makes us smarted. You should get some of that.

      • DavidD

        “Total strangers come and tell me my life story.” Actually I’ve traveled all over the world and lived in other states of our wonderful country.
        Your post reflects your ignorance and bigoted worldview better than any thing I can say.
        Thank God and Greyhound you’re gone

      • sherry06053

        I don’t believe you, because if you’ve traveled, you would know that I am right. It wasn’t a Greyhound, it was a moving van, and, yes, thank God I’m gone! And, if you read the article, I fall under the “Atheist” category. I’ll bet you are “privileged white male” and have no concept of what others go through down there who, by the luck of the draw, weren’t so lucky.

      • DavidD

        Never could afford a moving van myself.I’m living on disability with very poor health .I have COPD from chlorine exposure and service connected chronic medical problems.
        If that’s my white male priviledge then I’ll kiss your ass while i gasp for air.
        I started working doing farm work and because I was never very good at school did mostly physical labor or worked at institutions where blood splatter was a common occurence.
        My big beef with you is that you are a divisive smug petit bourgeoise elitist who loves to look down on people.
        The only thing the working class has going for it is numbers and we have to unite the many to defeat the few.That obviously takes unity and discipline and people like you aren’t into that but in fact will betray us to the power structure when we go “too far.”
        Working people know to get things done you have to cooperate and compromise our egos a bit so that together we can be greater than our individual parts.
        Because of your obvious peti bourgeoise class outlook and lack of intelligence you will never figure this out..
        People like you are wreakers who put their emotional gratification first and destroy organizations ecause you are so stuck on themselves and want personal power.
        As you have amply illustrated you are not choosy about the methods you use.Libel and invective are your tools of trade. .
        Since you like personal attack so much and are an obvious opportunist wouldn’t you be more comfortable with the GOP? Your style of work,use of assumptions and personal attacks are very simpatico with theirs and in the end you will be on their sides of the street anyway so why not cross over now.

      • sherry06053

        I can’t believe you are lumping me with the elitists! Did you not read my first post? I hated TX so much that I gave everything up and became a single mother. I even dropped out of college. I busted my ass to keep food on the table and my daughter in a decent public school. Yes, I do look down on southerners, but that is because of what I saw and experienced. I am smart and have no tolerance for ignorance and east TX is full of it! I was so determined that my child not learn those ways that it became my reason for living. I didn’t even have furniture until she moved out. She’s half Mexican. YOU people are the ones that voted people like Cruz and Bush into office. That is either ignorance or apathy (and not getting out to vote). I also hate republicans, and big oil companies are the WORST! BTW…I am also handicapped and receive no disability. I got hurt 7 years ago and haven’t worked in 3.5 years. So you can shove your “elitist” comments – your assumptions are ALL wrong about who I am. I lived it – I know it and there is no excuse for it. I would rather be homeless than go back to that nasty place again.

      • FuzzyBunnyFeet

        Stereotype much? If you can’t accept that there are liberals in the red states fighting the good fight against all odds, then … I don’t know what the best dismissive statement would be.

  • rossbro

    All We had to do was get out and VOTE !

  • rossbro

    Hey, Manny. Drink much wine???

  • 062014

    It will stay this way if nobody “fixes” gerrymandering. I worked my behind off for Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter in Georgia to “get out the vote”. My extreme disappointment was only slightly eased by knowing “my county” did in fact vote blue. Southern politics is dirty and crooked, so it is hard to get a good rational campaign here. the southern GOP has learned that “hate” is a better motivator to get people to the polls than truth.

  • Austin Kennedy

    All your southern bases are belong to us now.

  • Cemetery Girl

    Should we abandon an area because it has problems? Are we going to just slice off any part of our country that has problems or that we don’t agree with? I’m guessing Detroit will be hacked out (because it’s become known nationally for its difficulties.) Most of the southern part of Ohio is Republican, so do we also chop off the parts of our states that aren’t Southern but are Republican? Heck, I live in a red county surrounded by blue (and it’s annoying), but I guess my county should be removed from the US. Our country, even our states, have always had differing areas, but that hasn’t been grounds to remove them or try to pretend they don’t exist.

  • southern progressive

    they are right about LBGT but they need to move on from their thinly veiled racism.i wanna see the gop help blacks move up the social ladder