The Reason The South Has Rejected Democrats? Their Message Sucks

Demonstrators are arrested during "Moral Monday" demonstrations at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, July 22, 2013. Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/AP

Demonstrators are arrested during “Moral Monday” demonstrations at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, July 22, 2013.
Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/AP

Earlier this week I penned an article titled “No, Democrats Should Not Abandon The South,” and the response to it was disheartening to say the very least. Sadly, I expected the replies that came, even though I hoped that Democrats and fellow progressives would prove me wrong.

One after another, people who very likely didn’t even read the op-ed felt the need to make comment after comment that painted everyone who lives south of a certain line as idiotic, racist, backwoods rednecks who hate women and progress, so why should Democrats even bother trying down here anymore?

Self-professed liberals and progressives who often kvetch about stereotypes fell all over themselves to repeat stereotypes about how Southerners were all bigots, ignorant and living 150 years behind the enlightened bastions of liberalism that they so smugly announced that they lived in. You’d think that people who are liberal or progressive who were such staunch opponents of profiling and stereotypes would eschew those actions, but alas, they couldn’t unleash their own disdain and vitriol toward people like myself fast enough.

Despite the fact that there are many liberals and Democrats who live in states like North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas or Louisiana that aren’t conservative or bigots, there was a deluge of comments like the ones that follow.

This one was left in the comments section on my article:

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

Here are a few from the Forward Progressives Facebook page:

Enjoy north carolina.  I lived there for a decade.  Its a shithole for religious zealouts, racists, gun nuts, and people who have never left the state and don’t want to because their wittle minds cant handle the truth.  Enjoy.

Go ahead and secede.  It would increase the quality of life in the remaining states and increase the collective IQ.

Wow … Your mad cause people stereotype the south ? Nothing like stereotyping northerners!

Sorry, Manny, but those red State residents don’t endear themselves to me by calling me a libitard, or by suggesting that the President should be shot. They remain willfully ignorant and intolerant. They don’t have to move to (New York, San Francisco, Seattle) to become informed. All they have to do is turn off FOX News and open a newspaper. If they want to secede, let them go. The USA is not in the business of forcing people to remain US citizens.

You can’t afford it because you choose to live in the south. Move. It’s a shitty place full of shitty people.

Screw the South. They are so proud of their ignorance they’re a blight to the rest of the country. They get voting power by building prison blocks to inflate their populations (and congressional/senate seats) and use it to enforce their Christian Taliban idea of morality on people whose idea of life, liberty and happiness differ. I don’t even feel bad for the women. After all, they help vote in the men who turn around and take away their rights. Stupid gets what stupid deserves.

I wonder how many of these folks commenting realize that there are liberals, progressives, Christians and even *gasp* moderate Republicans who live down here who don’t identify with right-wing politics? There’s my friend Reverend Mark Sandlin from The Christian Left and the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina, and there’s Arik Bjorn in South Carolina with our weekly Sunday progressive Christianity column. There’s my friend Lamar White, Jr. from who stood with Wendy Davis in Texas and was subsequently smeared as “a prop” by conservative media because he has cerebral palsy. There’s also my friend Robert Mann in Baton Rouge writing for and he didn’t take too kindly either to Michael Tomasky’s bitter, juvenile “screw you guys, I’m going home” suggestion that Democrats give up on the South.

While Tomasky’s bitter words might appeal to some Democrats, his advice is reckless.

For starters, while the Democratic Party appears dead, the rumors of its demise are exaggerated. In the United States, political parties are almost always adept at reinventing themselves.

In some Southern states, especially along the Eastern Seaboard, demographic changes are prompting profound political changes. The black population of every Southern state, save Louisiana, is increasing significantly faster than its white population. Latinos are also a growing proportion of those states’ residents. (Source)

These are just a few of us that don’t live behind the “Blue Wall,” and writing off everyone who lives in the South as an ignorant redneck is not only ironically ignorant in and of itself, but it also shows an amazing level of arrogance and short-sightedness. This election year was bad for Democrats not just in the South, but throughout the United States. Blaming Southern voters alone out of frustration for the stinging defeat is petty.

The reason Democrats have lost seats in 2010, 2012 and again in 2014 is that they’ve run away from President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Instead of a media blitz explaining what Democrats stood for and repeatedly debunking Republican lies, most candidates instead curled up in a ball and let Republicans run roughshod over them. It also doesn’t help when liberals, progressives and moderate independents here have to hear over and over again from smarmy, self-righteous liberal pundits that they’re part of the perceived intellectual and cultural wasteland that comprises the states inside of the Bible Belt. Despite all of the hand-wringing by Democrats over Mary Landrieu’s loss, there are some important things to take away from this map from Politico. Out of a state with a little over 4.5 million people, she only lost by about 150,000 votes, and she beat her opponent in New Orleans by 70 percentage points. It wasn’t that Democrats have lost the Deep South, certainly not Louisiana. It’s just that Democrats and moderate independents aren’t bothering to go to the polls, and that speaks volumes to the party’s message – it really sucks right now.

Going for ideological purity and demanding that all candidates and voters share the exact same mindset as the smug, self-appointed oracles of all things liberal is not the way forward for the Democratic Party. I don’t know about you, but we don’t need more polarization and gridlock in Washington, and writing off everyone in the South will only make our current situation worse. It’s time for a lot of liberals and Democrats to get off their high horses and join their Southern brothers and sisters in the political trenches – we’ve got a lot of work to do. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about all of us.


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