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“A Legacy Of The Old Democratic Pre-Civil Rights South”: Reagan Democrats Of Kentucky, Oklahoma And West Virginia

To no one’s surprise, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia yesterday and has so far picked up 16 delegates to Clinton’s 11. While that is not enough to change the trajectory of the race, it produced some interesting information.

As exit polls were released, there was some surprise in a couple of categories. Thirty-five percent of voters in the Democratic primary plan to vote for Donald Trump in the general election. Of those, 63% voted for Sanders. Similarly, a plurality of voters (41%) want the next president to be less liberal than Obama. Of those, 51% voted for Sanders.

Initially pundits attempted to ascribe these results to Clinton’s remarks in March about how she’d “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” But given that Sanders’ position on coal is the same as Clinton’s, that doesn’t seem plausible. Rye Spaeth provided some information that is probably more pertinent.

“No state has lower approval ratings for the president than West Virginia,” Philip Bump pointed out in February. And unlike embattled Democrats in West Virginia, Clinton has embraced Obama’s legacy and diverse coalition.

It is also worth noting that the population of West Virginia is 93% non-Hispanic white.

Nate Cohn provides some data suggesting that Reagan Democrats (a term that has been dismissed by a lot of people, including me) are actually a large part of the electorate in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky (which holds its primary next Tuesday).

Coal County, Okla., is one of the most extreme examples. There, 80 percent of voters are registered Democrats, yet President Obama won just 27 percent of the vote in 2012. Mrs. Clinton has performed very poorly where the share of voters who are registered Democrats is much greater than the share of voters who supported Mr. Obama…

These conservative Democrats are a legacy of the old Democratic strength among white voters in the South, where many white conservatives nonetheless remain registered as Democrats.

Cohn provided this map to demonstrate.

The conservative registered Democrats helping Sanders have helped him elsewhere, especially Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/MpFfilnwHo

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) May 11, 2016

These voters have tended to remain registered as Democrats and support local candidates like Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia. But they mostly resemble white Democrats of the pre-Civil Rights South. When it comes to presidential elections, they ensure that their states are firmly red. That’s a pretty classic definition of the term Reagan Democrat.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 11, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Big Coal, Reagan Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Racism By Region”: Donald Trump And The Rise Of The New Dixiecrats

There is one man who might be able to beat Donald Trump. But it would involve amending the Constitution, exhuming former Alabama governor George Wallace and re-constituting his ashes.

The current Republican frontrunner has been able to accomplish something that Wallace, in his living days, could not. In the months since Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, he has singlehandedly built a bipartisan, largely white coalition of conservatives who are attracted to his nativist brand of economic populism. For them, the fine details of actual policy proposals appear to be less important than the notion that Trump is the one who can take their country back.

Much like Wallace—who was a Democrat—and despite his inconsistencies on the issues, Trump has tapped into a reservoir of resentment. He gives voice to the grievances of his supporters in a way that no other viable candidate for national office arguably has or can. As Trump continues to intensify his rhetoric, he has revealed deep fissures between the Republican establishment and the party’s grassroots. But his support does not stop at the water’s edge.

Those measuring Trump’s electoral “ceiling” should look again. There was certainly a ceiling on how much support Wallace received nationally. And, without a doubt, there is a cap on how high Trump’s stock will rise. But Trump is getting some unanticipated help—from Democrats.

Feasting on a public mood that is strikingly similar to what fueled Wallace, backing for the billionaire businessman has crossed the partisan aisle. The Trump voter is buoyed by his proclamations that he can “make America great again.” One constant refrain is that he “tells it like it is,” a thinly veiled reference to the way Trump eschews politically correct speech and frequently deploys bigoted, divisive language.

Among his electoral strongholds are so-called “blue dogs.” According to The New York Times, Trump carries a full 43 percent of voters who are registered Democrats, but who lean to the right.  In the mold of Wallace, Trump has given rise to a modern-day Dixiecrat—only this one is not contained to the American South.

Up North, he is drawing support from “Reagan Democrats”—those who are disaffected by the broadening diversity of the Democratic Party. Reminiscent of Reagan, at least one poll shows that 20 percent of Democrats would defect and pull the lever for Trump this November.

His promises to rebuild the nation’s manufacturing base, hunt down Muslim terrorists and stop “illegal aliens” at the border have earned him deep support across the South, in rural areas in the country’s mid-section and in rusting smoke-stack cities in the North and upper Midwest. Never mind the fact that many of his proposals are unworkable and others would bust the national bank or qualify as war crimes. Trump’s “us versus them” mentality has attracted substantial support from white evangelicals and catapulted him into what is likely an insurmountable lead.

Without question, Trump has shocked the chattering class, energized his base and driven up turnout numbers in Republican primaries and caucuses. As the real estate denizen steamrolls through states like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee on Super Tuesday, it is worth noting that he polls strongest among working class-whites who are less educated and who were the least likely to vote. His reach also extends to north to Massachusettes and his home state of New York.

Nate Cohn says it is a “familiar pattern.”

“It is similar to a map of the tendency toward racism by region, according to measures like the prevalence of Google searches for racial slurs and racist jokes, or scores on implicit association tests,” Cohn writes for The New York Times.

Trump may also be benefitting from the election of the country’s first African-American president. Once thought to be an augur of a post-racial America, the 2008 election instead gave rise to tensions thought by some to be already resolved. For some people, that clear demonstration of black voting power within the highly diverse Obama Coalition was something to be feared rather than embraced.

Wallace, a segregationist who is perhaps most famous for the assertion, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” would later come to rebuke that ugly ideology, but he never let go of economic populism.

However, what some political prognosticators miss about Wallace is the way in which he and his contemporaries used racial animus and economic fears to destabilize the Democratic base after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts. While Wallace never actually became a Republican himself, he helped to inspire the party re-alignment that would last for generations. That schism would become the precursor to the “Southern Strategy” adopted by Republicans to maintain national political power.

Trump appears to have taken up the mantle in a way that separates him from Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who continue to trail him in the polls.  But even as he benefits from the old Southern Strategy built by Republicans, Trump is remaking the tactical approach in his own image. He has rejected critical elements of the modern-day conservative doctrine.

“Trump has called for abolishing the carried-interest tax loophole for hedge-fund and private-equity managers,” writes James Surowiecki for The New Yorker. “He’s vowed to protect Social Security. He’s called for restrictions on highly skilled immigrants. Most important, he’s rejected free-trade ideology, suggesting that the U.S. may need to slap tariffs on Chinese goods to protect American jobs.”

Trump’s impact on party alignment is unknowable today. But Democrats and Republicans are right to fear the result. Like Wallace, Trump is shaking the table and there is no telling where the pieces might fall.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, March 2, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Dixicrats, Donald Trump, George Wallace, Regional Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Protecting Equality”: What Some Black Church Leaders Have Wrong About Gay Marriage — And Civil Rights

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples had a right to marry anywhere in the country.

The African American church and its leadership have often been at the forefront of movements for equality. But the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has shed light on the resistance to social change among some black church leaders —and has left them sounding more like white conservative leaders.

On June 26, the Court ruled that two consenting adults have the right to get married—even if they are the same gender. As conservatives lamented the loss of morality and warned of the hellfire that would soon rain down upon us, President Barack Obama and the White House celebrated the decision.

Just a few hours later, Obama delivered a eulogy for Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was a South Carolina state senator and a pastor at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church before he was shot and killed, along with eight other members, by white supremacist Dylann Roof during a Bible study on Wednesday, June 17. The juxtaposition was quite remarkable. It was a day marked by joyous celebration and indescribable pain: the first black president at the funeral of a black man killed by a white supremacist, on the same day same-sex marriage became the law of the land.

In May 2015, the Pew Research Center found that support for same-sex marriage among all Americans increased drastically from 39 percent in 2009 to a whopping 57 percent. Opinions on same-sex marriage vary by race, with 59 percent of whites, 56 percent of Hispanics, and just 41 percent of blacks in support.

One of the biggest indicators in whether a group is in favor of same-sex marriage is religion. Of those unaffiliated with religion, 85 percent support marriage equality. In contrast, 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants oppose gay marriage, as do 57 percent of black Protestants.

Since at least 1992, blacks have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, the reason being that the modern-day Democratic Party champions causes that appeal to the black community: economic inequality, fair housing, taxing the rich, welfare, and public education. Meanwhile, the modern-day Republican Party consistently stands for causes that disproportionately hurt blacks. And much to the chagrin of conservative black pastors, the Democratic president (and those who hope to succeed him) is publicly in favor of same-sex marriage.

In May 2012, after Vice President Joe Biden came out in support for marriage equality, Obama quickly did as well. “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he said during an interview with ABC News. And while many across the United States celebrated Obama’s voiced support, he faced backlash from black pastors.

The Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) is a socially conservative organization made up of black church leaders. After Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality, the president of CAAP, Reverend William Owens, sounded the moral alarm. “We were once proud of President Obama, but our pride has turned to shame,” he said. “The man holding the most powerful position in the world is stooping to lead the country down an immoral path.”

After the Supreme Court ruling last week, CAAP doubled down on Facebook. “Pres. Obama’s legacy: Obamacare and Gay care,” read one post. Another update used the “unelected judges” talking point, widely used by conservative politicians when they don’t agree with a SCOTUS outcome:

Today is a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court got it wrong: it should not have mandated all 50 states to redefine marriage.

Five unelected judges do not have the power to change the truth about marriage or the truth about the Constitution.

According to The Christian Post, CAAP and other African American Christian leaders threatened mass civil disobedience. “If they rule for same-sex marriage, then we’re going to do the same thing we did for the civil rights movement,” proclaimed Owens. The fact that protesting a law protecting equality is antithetical to the civil rights movement must be lost on Owens and CAAP. Just as notable is the lack of recognition they seem to have for how the black LGBT community has long been at the intersection of racial equality and gay rights.

Two trans women of color were at the forefront of the Stonewall riots, widely considered the beginning of the modern LGBT equality movement. Sylvia Rivera, of Puerto Rican descent, was later one of the founders of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance. She and Marsha P. Jackson, who was black, started the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, which advocated for homeless LGBT people.

Today’s Black Lives Matter movement, which mirrors so much of the movement of the 1960s, was started when three queer black women created the hashtag—Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi—after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in 2013. Writing for The Feminist Wire this past October, Garza declared that, “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.” The Black Lives Matter movement was inclusive and intersectional from the beginning.

The black LGBT community is strong and has been fighting for civil rights for decades. The coalition of black pastors who invoke the civil rights movement when they rail against the rights of gay couples should consider reading some history books.

 

By: Nathalie Baptiste, The American Prospect, July 3, 2015

July 6, 2015 Posted by | Black Church Leaders, Civil Rights Movement, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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