This is a subject on which I have done a lot of research on, and I think that I have found a new method of winning in the South. Someone on Daily Kos pointed out that former Nebraska U.S. Senator Jim Exxon was an Economic Populist, but very socially conservative. I find that this is a very good point, because Nebraska is highly rural, and Socially Conservative, much like many Southern states, and I believe it is a good example for what I am trying to push for.
I won’t beat around the bush, but, members of this organization should know I’m a more socially conservative Democrat, so I may see things differently on some issues than you do. I will, however, do my best not to offend anyone in the least.
But, from my own studies of the South, and many rural areas, many people who haven’t voted for Democrats in years, still tend to be populists, it has surprised me over and over and over and over again. Why don’t they vote for Democrats. Well the most common answer was that they weren’t perceived as “Christian” in their values or position as the other guy. After that came, “I didn’t feel like I could connect with him, like he was my friend”, then, “Since both candidates didn’t have an ounce of populism in them, I voted for the more Socially conservative candidate.” All of those statements are true, gotten from overwhelmingly white, and 72% pro-Bush in 2004, East Carroll Parish, where I have several Great-Grandparents, and a place that I visit often, and occasionally deliver a sermon in my great-grandfather’s church.
Quite the opposite of what many think, these Religious Conservatives are actually
Populist, why. Well as someone who has always liked talking and having the spotlight, I also write a bunch of Sermons, many of which I never get a chance to tell anybody, some which I get to do at a small church, a lot of the time my great grandfathers. I can tell you right know, the Bible contains a great deal of economically populist messages, and rural social conservatives do believe these ideals, a lot of them do, far more than most people probably think. Some of the only problems are how Republicans have demonized taxation and Government. That’s why we need what I like to call “Your Friendly Neighborhood Democrat”. The charismatic Democrat who can create what many bloggers have so aptly called ‘a narrative’ about middle class and lower class families struggling to make it, to bring emotion and personal appeals into. I do this regularly in my sometimes rather blatantly political sermons.
Conservatives have gotten many of them thinking Democrats what to take your tax money and give it to poor worthless blacks and minorities, when really, Southern states are the poorest, and rural whites make up a majority of their percentage of the population on welfare. A Democrat needs to bring that back into perspective, to make it to where when someone mentions the Democratic party, that person’s first though is, ‘my party, the common man’s party’, and not, ‘the pro-gay, pro-abortion, Minority party’. That first thought, that’s what most people used to think about the Democratic party into the South before the Republican party, (with much effort), changed the narrative to the latter.
In my opinion the South is not lost at all, but Democrats must adjust. I still maintain that the Democratic Party at large needs to remain fairly socially liberal, (and must start acting more Economically Liberal), but in the South the party needs to become more socially conservative, (in many instances far more than I am). Rural areas that were once the bastion of the Democratic party have now become the opposite for the Republican party, I am personally sure that the key to success is to take back those areas, or come close. In Georgia, many Rural counties where a majority of registered voters were Democrats, Bush got close to 60%, indicating major crossover support due to social issues, and social issues alone.
To give you some more background on this, East Carroll parish is where Oak Grove and multiple other small towns lie. I travel the Parish often, and have found Economic populism, or semi-economic populism still common. People just don’t believe Democrats are the Party to do it, but for them neither are the Republicans.
This brings me up to my second subject; the economic conservatism of elected Southern Democrats. Many Southern Democrats like: Gene Taylor, Lincoln Davis, John Tanner, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Bud Cramer, Mike McIntyre, and Allen Boyd, (who actually signed the Republican proposal to privatize Social Security), are all extremely conservative on Economic Issues. They all also represent districts that, on a presidential level, mostly support Republicans. When a fundamentalist Christian voter who is open to economic is voting in a tough election between a very conservative Democrat and Republican, he’ll most likely choose the Republican because he is most likely the most conservative of the two candidates when it comes to Social issues. Why does he vote this way, why because there’s not a charisma or Economic populism in the Democrats’ body.
Charisma is key! New Democrats will have to use personal appeals, like Republicans, to move voters with a touching narrative. As a writer, I find this personally very easy, and during some sermons on the problems and tough lives of many poor working Americans, my eyes have started watering, because I know what it’s like to grow up poor. New Democrats will have to do the same. Voters have to be moved, not won over because you support massive tax cuts for the rich, or oppose Gay Marriage.
I’d like to know where many of you stand on this issue, maybe you have a personal opinion, or anecdote to share that relates to it. Let’s get into it, as this is the first major post of the Southern Democrats Club.
To tie up a few things, when I said, ‘the pro-gay, pro-abortion, Minority party’, I was not being racist; I was just purveying the reader a very, very, scarily accurate portrayal of a rural conservative white’s thoughts on the Democratic party. Many poor rural people indeed don’t even like the party they always vote for. They still distrust it as the party of the rich, and big business, many still have a deep affinity for the Democratic party too, they just don’t feel like they can vote for it anymore. But, the right type of Democrat can win these voters once again. Second, I will write you all an example of a personal narrative in my next post.
Please vote in the poll so I can get an idea of how many people read this, and please, please, post your thoughts and vocal agreements or disagreements with my thinking.