The South Could “Rise Again” — But Not As Long As They Keep Voting For Republicans

Few things make me realize the person I’m about to have a political discussion with is either an idiot or being completely disingenuous more than when they whip out the “Democrats formed the KKK and Republicans freed the slaves” statement — as if that’s their trump card and they’re playing it up front so that anything else they’re about to say can then go without challenge. Let’s be fair, there’s a number of different arguments you could use to justify why you think one party is better than another, and some are better than others. Using the premise of “Democrats formed the KKK and Republicans freed the slaves” just shows that you probably took all of your talking points from some lunatic conservative webpage, and you slept through every single American history class you ever attended.

I’m a Southerner. I’ve been one my whole life and I’m not making apologies for it, as demonstrated in this article which ruffled a lot of liberal feathers. However, I am also a Civil War buff and whenever some guy with the Stars and Bars sticker on the back of his truck starts with the previously mentioned statement, I can’t help but ask them the following: If that statement is true, why do they vote Republican? Because if you know anything about the aftermath of the Civil War and the utter devastation of the Southern economy, you’d also know that Republicans were no friends of anyone who sided with or sympathized with the Confederacy. It is true that for over 100 years after the war, Southern Democrats were usually on the completely wrong side of the argument when it came to racial equality — but then again, it wasn’t like you saw many Northern Republicans eager to help Dr. King’s dream come true either.

The Civil War didn’t just free the slaves. It created an environment in which they were free, but also second class citizens — and it wasn’t just in the South either. Once Reconstruction was over and federal troops were removed, the Jim Crow era was quickly ushered in. The Republican Party was happy to end slavery, but it really did nothing after the war other than to create an atmosphere of racial resentment by leaving an economy in shambles and cities burnt to the ground.

You see, the whole “Republicans freed the slaves” statement is such a hollow argument. It is pretty incredibly ridiculous to point out a proclamation made by Lincoln or the actions of Nathan Bedford Forrest as proof that one party is better than another based off political positions of 150, or even 50 years ago. But that’s exactly what you’ll hear repeated ad nauseam from media pundits who figure people who listen to them are too uneducated to know that Lincoln wanted a quick reconciliation between the North and the South after the war, or that the original KKK died out in the 1870s and has been resurrected twice since then.

If you’d really like to debate the issue of the Civil War, it’s an entirely reasonable discussion (and one I would love to go into further one day) to claim that the war wasn’t so much about the morality of slavery, but more about a rivalry between a Northern economy that didn’t want to compete with the cheap labor force that the Southern plantation owners had. However, I think that would fly far over the heads of those who can’t even figure out that “trickle-down” economics is a complete sham. It is completely and utterly frustrating to try to reason with folks who parrot the “Democrats started the KKK” line over and over again like a stuck Johnny Rebel record, even as they sometimes drop the “N” word in casual conversation.

From now on, every time I hear someone talking about how they believe the Republican Party is so wonderful and Democrats are destroying the economy, I’m going to start laying some history on them. If Democrats are racists because a former Confederate general started the KKK and for many years the party opposed desegregation, then the Republicans are responsible for the humiliation of the South after the war. It may not get through their thick skulls when you use their own logic against them, but it will be fun to watch the smoke coming from their ears and the confused look on their faces.

Perhaps one day the South will “rise again,” but it’ll never happen by voting for the very party who crushed them nearly 150 years ago and continues to convince them to vote against their economic self interests today.


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  • strayaway

    Economic growth in the south has been outpacing the Country for a generation. Unemployment levels in the south are lower than in the west or northeast. CEO magazine found that “eight of the top 10 most business-friendly states, led by Texas, were from the former Confederacy; California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts sat at the bottom.” What this article should have said was imagine how much better the south would be doing if it voted Democratic.

    • louis

      wrong, wrong, and wrong. No offense but your data is either completely biased or just flat out lying. unemployment is much higher in the southern red states than anywhere else. Same as their dependency on federal programs and assistance like food stamps ect. CEO magazine, the term business friendly means, republican dominated with the least amount of regulations than anywhere else. Texas has some of the highest poverty rates in the country. sorry, not tryin to offend ya, but your wrong.

      • strayaway

        I did do some checking and the unemployment rates are somewhere in between the CEO publication’ claim and yours according to the government. Deep south states as follows: VA 5.7%, AL 6.3%, TX 6.5%, LA 7%, FL 7.1%(National average 7.1%), SC 8.1%, MS 8.1%, GA 8.8%, NC 8.9%. The ten highest unemployment states are TN, DC, NJ, MI,NC,RI, IL, NV. I did not look up food stamp usage. You might be right about that. You were overstating your case as was the CEO magazine it seems. Unemployment in the deep south is about the same as the national average while most of the bottom 10 states lean Democratic.

      • Jill Marie Burger

        Did it mention the type of jobs? Here in Texas we do have job growth, but the jobs are low wage jobs without many benefits. That leads to a rise in services. Not only that, the deregulation leads too poor working conditions. Several places have discussed low wages, the fact that we are onthe bottom in health care, and have one of the highest working accidents. I can’t comment on other states,but Texas is not a beacon for anything. Jobs are low, health care coverage costs me almost $600 a month, and much more.

      • strayaway

        I just looked up recent unemployment rates. They were not specific to quality of jobs or if the jobs were full time. I don’t doubt your assessment of Texas labor problems. Union membership all over the Country is getting hammered by offshoring jobs (fewer jobs available) and millions of hard working foreign laborers (increased supply of labor) who are willing to work here for less. The squeeze is being put on US, not just Texas, workers. The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement will be one more nail in US labor’s coffin.

      • Michelle Rhoades

        You’re numbers are old. The national average is 5.3% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state numbers are also off. Mississippi has the highest rate at 8%.

      • strayaway

        Update: “The latest employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since the recession hit in December of 2007, foreign workers netted 100% of all employment gains among women workers. In fact the number of American-born women with a job declined.

        Between December 2007 and today the number of employed foreign-born women grew by almost a million from 9.041 million to 10.028 million. During the same period American-born women with a job fell by 64K from 59.322 million to 59.258 million, at the same time the total number of American-born women grew by 600K+.” -Aug 7, 2015

        Southern blacks in places like Mississippi don’t financially thrive when jobs are sent abroad and unskilled workers are allowed to pour into the US to displace them. Obama has been a disaster.

      • Michelle Rhoades

        I have a newsflash for you. Baby boomers are retiring. When you speak of total number of women you are including high school and college students, those on disability, and retirees. The number of retirees is skyrocketing.

      • strayaway

        The average retirement age for women is 61.9. Those women would have been born in 1953. 15% of women born in 1953 are already dead by age 62. Since the number of women born in 1953 only exceeds the number of women born in 1984 now entering the work force at age 21 by 7.5%, there is a net decrees of 7.5% in the number of of retiring women relative to the number of young replacement workers. Your Democratic talking point, I’ve come across it before, is lame and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Maybe you should just laud Obama for replacing expensive US workers with cheaper foreign workers. It works for the US Chamber of Commerce!

    • Inyo Maai

      And the beauty of all of that is these statistics are easily virifiable and well documented on the internet, and this holds tru for blacks, whites, mexicans, asians, males and females. Afterall if itwas so bad there would be a mass exodus of lets say blacks for instance to states that would not be able to economically sustain them. People are free to move if they like. Mexicans with far less leave mexico by foot and swim across the river for jobs and oppirtunities to send money to their families to provide for a better life for them. These broad generalizations about the south and republicans are quite amusing, and obviously made by h

    • Brian

      “Unemployment levels in the south are lower than in the west or northeast.”

      • strayaway

        Brian, I went through the work of digging up state by state facts. You are welcome to them as an option to your make believe world.

  • louis

    good article as always, i Just don’t believe that the south, who is dominated by racists and republicans will ever see the light of day. They are too brainwashed and too uneducated. To begin to fix any problem, the person has too at the very least, acknowledge that they have a problem. The southern republicans i have met, will never even see that they have an issue. Anytime logic is used, they usually run to their favorite bible verse to validate their discrimination or stupidity. I have grown tired of trying to introduce logic unto people that still believe in magic, talking snakes, and pregnant virgins. It just cant be done. Whenever someone begins a sentence with, “Jesus said, or the bible says”, i just walk away because i know all hope is lost. how do you persuade anyone to think rationally when their entire belief system stems from a fairy tale known as the king James bible? figure that out and ill vote for you for any office you choose.

    • djtejas

      BS…you can’t just say people from the South. Nowadays it’s very difficult to find very many people in the South that have been here for more than one or two generations. The influx of people from the North that started in the 70’s has created a different South than it was previous to the 70’s. I really feel like Texas has become more racist and Republican over the years after all this migration from the North. It’s much worse now than when I grew up here in the 70’s.
      I’m fifth generation Texan and my family has been here since Texas became a state. None of my family has ever acted like these people who claim to be Texans today do…

      • Brian

        You’re either deluding yourself or your subconscious was waiting for an opportunity to pass the blame on to others.

  • Jerilynn Brady

    Also another little known fact, Lincoln, according to other historians, really wasn’t certain about freeing the slaves. He had doubts about what would happen afterwards. Lincoln felt that slavery would die out of it’s own accord, by not permitting expansion into other states. But he wanted the support of the abolitionists so he worked on “freeing” them. I agree the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, slavery was a side issue, but economic leverage, imports, industrial growth in the North chaffed the South plantation culture.

    • Warmenuf

      The War was about slavery from the side of the Confederacy from the beginning: read the secession proclamations, and you will find that “preserving slavery” was listed as a (sometimes THE) primary reason. From the Northern perspective, the War was about preserving the Union, until 1863, with the Emancipation Proclamation.

      • Trey Johnson

        No it wasn’t. If the war was to preserve slavery why did the part of the Upper South join the Southern War for Independence? The four upper South states , that joined the Southern Confederacy, had minimal slave populations and only seceded after federal troop were ordered into The South. Also, Jefferson Davis in 1864 declared The South would give up slavery for independence and foreign support, but this proposal was accepted by France, but shot down in Britain so no Southern independence.

    • Jerry Graybosch

      Sure, there were lots of issues but without the slavery issue…no war.

  • Aussie Neil

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t JFK and his brother and Attorney-General Bobby drag the Democrat base northwards by giving Federal support to desegregation in the South? And didn’t Nixon proceed to drag the Republican base southwards by shamelessly courting racist voters in the South?

    • grouchy

      I would correct you. But you’re not wrong.

    • allenels

      It’s interesting that you mention the Kennedy brothers. The interesting point can be found in President Kennedy’s, and specifically Bobby Kennedy’s reluctance to enter the fray of the early civil rights activists, young college students, who spearheaded the Freedom Riders. Until the normally atrocities in the south became an international embarrassment to the Kennedy administration, it was business as usual – that is – turn a blind eye to the troubles of those colored people!

  • Southern cousins

    I’d be interested in reading your take on Civil War revisionism (the Tea Party trumping up states’ rights and deliberately downplaying slavery as a motivating issue in the conflict) as a means of going back in time to give themselves historical justification while undercutting any historical validity to complaints black people might have today. There’s also a religious component to these efforts, too, with the Tea Party political views worming their way into Christian homeschool materials to get God’s endorsement on their politics. What are your thoughts on this, with racism as a motivator?

  • Clint Notestine

    if replublicans freed the slaves and democrats formed the KKK then Democrats beat Hitler and Tojo

  • Trey Johnson

    The South needs independence to end Republican and Democrat rule of The South. Simple as that.