Sunday, September 9, 2012

Election 2012: The Assembly of the Dixie-Led Red State Bloc

Colin Woodard has provided a fascinating account of the manner in which the original immigration patterns to what would become the United States generated regional cultures that have persisted to this day. Woodard’s book is titled: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

The extreme divisions within our country can only be comprehended if we view the Nation as a collection of nations.

"America’s most essential and abiding divisions are not between red states and blue states, conservatives and liberals, capital and labor, blacks and whites, the faithful and the secular. Rather, our divisions stem from this fact: the United States is a federation comprised of the whole or part of eleven regional nations, some of which truly do not see eye to eye with one another. These nations respect neither state nor international boundaries...."

The map of these regional cultures is provided here:

If there is a common theme to the history of the United States, it has been the continual conflict between Yankeedom and its allies and the Deep South and its allies.

"It [Yankeedom] has been locked in nearly perpetual conflict with the Deep South for control of the federal government since the moment such a thing existed."

The members of the various alliances have changed allegiances from time to time, and a few have never lined up consistently with either side. What we face in the approaching election of 2012 is a red state bloc consisting of the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, the Far West, and the wavering Tidewater. The contending blue state bloc consists of Yankeedom, New Netherlands, and the Left Coast. El Norte with its growing Hispanic population has been turning states bluer. Changing demographics have contributed to Tidewater becoming bluer as well. The Midlands has traditionally defined a political transition region.

"The only part of British North America to have a non-British majority in 1775, the Midlands has long been an ethnic mosaic, with people of German descent—not ‘Anglo-Saxons’—comprising the largest group since the late 1600s. Like Yankees, the Midlanders believe society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, but they are extremely skeptical of top-down governmental intervention, as many of their ancestors fled from European tyrannies. The Midlands is....a bellwether for national political attitudes, and the key ‘swing vote’ in every national debate from the abolition of slavery to the 2008 presidential contest."

Woodard provides a history of how the current blocs were formed. In order to comprehend the current state of affairs, the history and character of these individual nations must be understood. Here we will focus on the red bloc.

On the origin of Tidewater:

" was founded by the younger sons of southern English gentry, who aimed to reproduce the semifeudal manorial society of the English countryside, where economic, political, and social affairs were run by and for landed aristocrats. These self-identified ‘Cavaliers’ largely succeeded in their aims, turning the lowlands of Virginia, Maryland, southern Delaware, and northeastern North Carolina into a country gentleman’s paradise, with indentured servants and, later, slaves taking the part of peasants."

On the origin of Greater Appalachia;

"[It] was founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of rough, bellicose settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands....these clannish Scots-Irish, Scots, and north English frontiersmen spread across the highland South and on into the southern tiers of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks; the eastern two-thirds of Oklahoma, and the hill country of Texas."

"Intensely suspicious of aristocrats and social reformers alike, these American Borderlanders despised Yankee teachers, Tidewater lords, and Deep South aristocrats."

On the origin of the Far West:

"High, dry, and remote, the interior west presented conditions so severe that they effectively destroyed those who tried to apply the farming and lifestyle techniques used in Greater Appalachia, Midlands, or other nations. With minor exceptions this vast region couldn’t be effectively colonized without the deployment of vast industrial resources: railroads, heavy mining equipment, ore smelters, dams, and irrigation systems."

These resources were provided by distant corporations or by the federal government which controlled much of the land.

"Unfortunately for the settlers, their region was treated as an internal colony, exploited and despoiled for the benefit of the seaboard nations. Despite significant industrialization during World War II and the Cold War, the region remains in a state of semi-dependency. Its political class tends to revile the federal government for interfering in its affairs—a stance that often aligns it with the Deep South—while demanding it continue to receive federal largesse."

On the origin of the Deep South:

"The Deep South was founded by Barbados slave lords as a West Indies-style slave society, a system so cruel and despotic that it shocked even its seventeenth-century English contemporaries. For most of American history, the region has been the bastion of white supremacy, aristocratic privilege, and a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was a privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many."

For much of its early history the Deep South strived to extend slavery to as many states as possible in order to contend for government control. When it concluded it was losing that battle, it initiated the Civil War in order to create a separate slavery-based nation. Tidewater followed them into war while Greater Appalachia split down the middle.

"The goal of the Deep south oligarchy has been consistent for over four centuries: to control and maintain a one-party-state with a colonial-style economy based on large-scale agriculture and the extraction of primary resources by a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace, safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible."

It was not difficult for them to replace their slave labor.

"Deep Southerners developed caste and sharecropper systems to meet their labor needs, as well as a system of poll taxes and literacy tests to keep former slaves and white rabble out of the political process."

The brief attempt by the federal government to use force to protect the lives and rights of the former slaves after the war bred resentment for "Yankees" that persists. When a combination of black civil rights activists, the federal government and "Yankees" challenged and overturned this system, shared resentment and fear cemented an alliance with Tidewater and Greater Appalachia.

"....they rallied poor whites in their nation, in Tidewater, and in Appalachia to their cause through fearmongering: the races would mix. Daughters would be defiled. Yankees would take away their guns and Bibles and convert their children to secular humanism, environmentalism, communism, and homosexuality."

This "Dixie" coalition became strong enough to contend for control of the government when the Far West, motivated by the desire to limit the power of the federal government and protect corporate interests, joined the alliance in 1968.

When in power, the red state alliance pursues a traditional Deep South agenda:

"...they focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy, funneling massive subsidies to the oligarchs’ agribusinesses and oil companies, eliminating labor and environmental regulations, creating ‘guest worker programs’ to secure cheap farm labor from the developing world, and poaching manufacturing jobs from higher-wage unionized industries in Yankeedom, New Netherland, or the Midlands. It’s a strategy financial analyst Stephen Cummings has likened to ‘a high technology version of the plantation economy of the Old South,’ with the working and middle class playing the role of sharecroppers."

This describes the red side of the battle of 2012.

God help us.

Woodard’s book provides fascinating insights into our nation’s history. Some have been discussed previously. Those interested might want to try: American Nations: How Puritans turned the Left Coast Blue, The American Nation of Greater Appalachia: A Persistent Culture, and Red vs. Blue: Private Protestants vs. Public Protestants.

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