The Appalachia Map, Yet Again
Lots of desperation talk these days by Republicans hoping to win future national elections by increasing their share of the “missing” white vote, while ignoring all those brown people. (Sean Trende’s piece seem to be the epicenter at this moment.)
Nate Cone drives a very effective stake through the heart of that zombie ambition here, with a single map (below). Yes: that (“Southern“) strategy worked brilliantly for decades. (Johnson said that civil-rights legislation would lose the South to Democrats “for a generation,” and he was only wrong in underestimating the duration.) And it’s the only thing that’s kept Republicans from utter humiliation and abject collapse over the last decade or so. But Judis and Texeira will be right eventually; demographics is destiny, and there are only so many white people — an ever-decreasing percentage. Courting whites may be the most effective method of stemming the hemorrhage, but it’s nothing more than that.
Faithful readers will remember seeing this basic map here multiple times. This latest version shows Obama’s gains/losses in share of the white vote compared to Gore (this by a black man):
Change in Share of White Vote: Obama 2012 Increases (Red)/Decreases (Blue), Compared to Gore 2000
We saw the same basic map here in 2008, in the strong Red countermovement among Appalachians and Okies:
And here, showing where Clinton dominated over Obama among Democrats in the primaries:
Both Steve Sailer and Senator Jim Webb link this pattern directly to the dominance of (white) Scots-Irish character and culture in Appalachia:
John McCain did best relative to Bush in 2004 in Scots-Irish states like Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. McCain is Scots-Irish himself and is very much in the Andy Jackson Scots-Irish tradition of patriotic pugnacity.
As Webb says in his 2004 book, Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America (here characterized by , the Scots-Irish are a particularly pugnacious people, self-reliant and hyper-individualistic, who place honor above profit.
If you want to understand that character and culture, I can’t do better than recommend a darned good novel: The Candlemass Road by George Macdonald Fraser of Flashman and Steel Bonnets fame (himself an utterly unreconstructed reactionary of Scottish descent who nevertheless, rather paradoxically characterizes the book by saying it’s “a rather dark morality tale – at least I meant it to have a moral.”) “Dark” hardly says it; “bleak” is more like. It portrays a Scottish border culture of unrelenting, murderous revenge battles among clans. (One of the leading clans in the novel being…the Nixons! On which subject of political reactionaries/warrior types with Scottish names — George McLellan, Douglas MacArthur, Stanley McChrystal, John McCain — see this post: Obama’s McMoment? McMaybe.)
Maybe that culture is transmitted…culturally, but reading Fraser’s fiction and nonfiction on the Scottish border wars, it’s not hard to understand how it could have emerged genetically through natural selection. The non-“pugnacious” clans simply didn’t survive; selection pressures were strong.
Or read Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of our Nature on the “culture of honor.” Here from NYT review of the book:
Pinker argues that at least part of the reason for the regional differences in American homicide rates is that people in the South are less likely to accept the state’s monopoly on force. Instead, a tradition of self-help justice and a “culture of honor” sanctions retaliation when one is insulted or mistreated. Statistics bear this out — the higher homicide rate in the South is due to quarrels that turn lethal, not to more killings during armed robberies — and experiments show that even today Southerners respond more strongly to insults than Northerners.
Whatever the source, nature or nurture, patriotic pugnacity doesn’t seem to be making those Scots-Irish Appalachians very happy:
Maybe eventually Scots-Irish Appalachians will stop clinging to guns, religion, “honor,” revenge, and shallow, self-satisfying, supposedly “patriotic” pugnacity. Maybe they’ll accept the fact that they lost the Civil War a century and a half ago, that we’re not going to “take the country back” to that time. In other words, maybe they’ll join some semblance of the modern world. Now that would be a disaster for the Republican Party.
And arguably the single most effective long-term strategy Democrats could adopt would be somehow convincing Appalachian voters to vote their own (and everyone else’s) economic self-interests. Turn the corner on a dozen or so counties in Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina (and Florida), and Republicans will be permanently relegated to the wilderness that they seem so hell-bent on occupying and (re)constructing.
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
Increased movement away from rural areas will break the GOP.
“…and Republicans will be permanently relegated to the wilderness that they seem so hell-bent on occupying and (re)constructing.”
While I don’t disagree that demographic changes will likely bring about socio-political changes in the country I wouldn’t assume that the changes will be primarily in the southeast, though the effect of such changes else where may be more diificult to predict. I would, however, not count out the Republican Party as a political entity. The wealthy will still be with us and they will likely find a new group to convince that they share a soico-economic destiny. Extreme social conservatism may be doomed, but there are likely to be some other divisive issues to exploit and the political operators will find them out. The working class tends to be that way, always looking for a way to identify with wealth and power even if it requires paying for it with their own well being. I’ve been dreamiing about working people suddenly recognizing the need to vote their own econoomic self interests for the past forty years. Unfortunately I awaken each morning to the realization that it is only a dream.
Yeah, obviously true. Sigh. But still the Dems’ central message should be, and should have been for decades, “We are the party of growth, prosperity, and progress.”
Funny, but I thought that that has been the Democratic message all along. It has been falling on deaf ears all that time. Especially those ears attached to an empty head. Mitt Romney still got 48.5% of the popular vote which had to include a significant portion of the 47% he castigated for being takers. And what part of prosperity and progress does Obama actually represent? Granted he seems better than McConnell, Boehner, Ryan, et al, but that’s a far cry from being representative of all the people. And he now has about the worst record imaginable on issues of domestic spying and global intervention. And not one banker has answered for the economic crisis. The most significant achievement has been health care finance reform and its not that much of a reform.
In effect we don’t only need better Republicans. We need representation of the average American on a par with the governmental consideration doled out to those who don’t need it, but can’t cope without having more. We need more than a reformed opposition party. We need pol;itical representation that is equal to all. And the Supreme Court has much to answer for the demise of that equality. The answers are not confined to the voting behavior of Red vs. Blue states. Money out of politics and media out of concentrated corporate control would be a big step or two forward.
Obama’s publicly trying to trade social security benefits didn’t help. Obama, himself, offered a good suggestion. He suggested to progressives that, like FDR, they should make him do it. That’s a tough slog because you have to get control of the party apparatus and there is no way to do that except outworking the regulars.
well, i’m not sure that counting on racial politics is wise, or right.
those scots irish would be just as glad to go after the bankers if they had honest leadership. which they are not getting from the Democrats. it’s not so much that white men are stupid, as that they don’t like being lied to.
as for Mitt’s 47%… it sure looks to me like his 48% did not need a single vote from the “other 47%. his problem was that he lost the 6% “in the middle.” as he should have.
what’s wrong with the progressives these days is that they are TELLING the people that they are victims and should not take responsibility for their lives. most workers are not progressives.
Back in the day… Chicago, 1948 or so, the Republicans were the honest party. They could afford to be honest, they didn’t hold office.
When your raceocrat dems are the party in power you won’t like them any better.
you won’t believe this, but i know lots of people who are most definitely not racists, but they do get sick of hearing racist rhetoric… from the left.
just to help you understand: i voted for Obama, the first time.
@coberly: “those scots irish would be just as glad to go after the bankers if they had honest leadership”
Yeah I am not the first to point out that the Tea Party and Occupy are absolutely natural allies…
Speaking as one who has spent over 40 years in NC, I have watched the
” tradition of self-help justice and a “culture of honor” sanction retaliation when one is insulted or mistreated “. They also have a very twisted idea about private property rights. What’s theirs is theirs, and what’s yours is theirs, if they want to use or abuse it. They see no disconnect between living on a 1/2 acre lot and buying their kid a four-wheeler, because, “hey, he can ride on Joe’s land”. Joe may have a different idea about that, so they bust his fence down and do it anyway. But woe be unto Joe if he calls the law, or takes any kind of personal action, like disabling the four-wheeler.
Hodding Carter recently said in a radio interview that the South is the only loser of a war who got to write its history. Later I heard a historian say that the reason that they were allowed to downplay the real history was in order to “heal the wounds” and re-knit the nation as quickly as possible. Bad mistake. All that did was allow the South to build this myth of chivalry, kind-hearted masters and singing chattel, with barely a mention of the white-trash poor, who were scorned behind their backs, but at least they were white, so they were allowed to believe they, too, were superior.
While the stories of Southern hospitality are also true, the unspoken truth is, you’d better “look right”, otherwise, you’re made unwelcome real fast.
I grew up in South Florida, barely a “southern state” climate, so I was appalled, upon moving to Charlotte in the early ’70s, when co-workers would ask me where I went to church, even before they asked me where I was from! And the preachers who would show up at my door! It felt like an assault, even though it was meant to be a welcome.
So, yes, they still cling to their guns and their religion, but what’s worse, they force everyone else to either go along, get out, or shut the hell up.
I think it was in 2008 that the great bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley did radio ads for Obama, saying Obama was a good man who would “put money in your pockets.” I knew then Obama would win. (Granted, he did worst in the South, but this was one hell of an endorsement from a Mountain icon, and it suggested to me he was going to pick up some unexpected votes.) But Obama didn’t put money in the pockets of poor whites. This strikes me as key. What Appalachia needs is a federal government that deals with poverty, mountain removal coal mining, the destruction of unions in the once solidly union coal country, the difficulty of unionizing everywhere in the US, but specially the South… Farmers need help as well, not the big corporate farmers, but small farmers, who do still exist in the South and elsewhere.
I dunno that any culture is immune to bribery, properly dressed-up, which is something the Dems might consider when thinking about how to “turn” voters in the small towns that dot red regions of the electoral map. Maybe campaign for a big infrastructure investment program to renew small-town America (“real America”) by creating local jobs, boosting small-town businesses, and ending their local depression conditions?
thank you Eleanor
Sandi does not realize she is being racist, because, after all, hers is the “right” kind of racism.
So let me try to say again, people are pretty stupid wherever you go, and what color they are, and how much money they have. You can either try to win them over to your side, try to understand them, or tell yourself how much better you are than them… and then wonder why they vote for the guy who tells them they are smarter than you.
as for my “people are pretty stupid”… i guess that would be racist from a martian point of view. maybe i could say it better: people are a mixture of decent, not decent, smart, not smart… none of us are anywhere near as smart as we think we are. or even as nice.
By the way
the first person i ever knew who really, really hated “racism” also told me in passing while on another subject on another day… “we are scotch irish”
I admit to being a bit slow on the up-take, but I just re-read my post, and I don’t see racism, but I did make “classism” judgements, I’ll admit. And I admit, I painted with a rather broad brush, but it has been my experience here, living in various small towns (even Charlotte was an over-grown small town in the early ’70s), I have been confronted by, and have confronted many working class white folks who act as if everything is theirs to use. Of course, I have also known very upstanding, open hearted folks in the working class.
The other side of what I’ve seen of white working class folks whose roots go deep in this red dirt, is that they seem to have a deep sense of inferiority around people of wealth/position, doing all but doffing their cap to “the boss”, whether or not that person is their boss, as long as he/she is perceived to be of the “ruling class”.
I have also encountered here, but nowhere else, a suspicion of education, a sense of betrayal by children who want more than living in a trailer on a few acres of family land, like their daddy and granddaddy did. Those who want to get more education and perhaps better their economic situation are seen as traitors to their family. In the county seat here a few years back, it was a big story in the paper that a girl was the first in her family to graduate high school and – oh,my – she wanted to go to COLLEGE! OMG!! And this in a state that probably has more colleges and universities than almost anywhere.
And Eleanor is correct that the little farmers need support here, rather than the Smithfields of the world. As for Obama and putting money in peoples’ pockets, he listened to Larry Summers instead of Paul Krugman, who believes the stimulus was too small, and also didn’t fight the right hard enough.
Krugman weighs in:
So, let’s look at some exit poll data, and cross-tab it with Census income data. In the figure below, the red lines show the income-voting relationship from the Times summary of exit polls, which also supplies the broad ethnic group data. For incomes, I use Census data on median household income for 2011, which is also available for regions. For voting I use Alabama to represent the South, Ohio to represent the Midwest.
So here’s my picture:
Contrary to what some people keep saying, people with higher incomes, other things equal, tend to vote Republican. Cut through the noise and fog, and it is true that Democrats broadly want to redistribute income down, and Republicans want to redistribute income up — and on average, voters get that (which is why “libertarian populism” is hot air). But race and ethnicity also matter, a lot. What you can see right away is that there are three groups that are fairly anomalous.
1. African-Americans “should” lean Democratic, given their low incomes, but they are much more Democratic than this alone would predict.
2. Southern whites are just as much of an anomaly; they have close to the national median income,and “should” be pretty evenly split between parties, but instead are almost entirely Republican.
3. Asian-Americans are relatively high-income, but also strongly Democratic. Although I don’t have the data, Jews would surely look similar.
There really isn’t any mystery, of course, about these anomalies. Despite occasional attempts to widen its appeal, the GOP has effectively defined itself as the party of white Christians — and there are still a lot of historical memories that go with that definition.
I suspect there is more of a mystery than you suppose. Southern whites talk and behave more or less the way peasants (country people) talk and behave all over the world.
You may be seeing differences that come from “urban” living, “education” (i put that in quotes because plenty of ph.d’s i know are ignoramuses, but they can reliably be counted on to spout the propaganda of their particular “class”.)
I don’t know where you lived in South Florida, but i’d have to guess Miami or St Petersburg, because otherwise you would have met the same backwoods worldview that you found in NC. and if you came to Oregon, you would find it alive and voting here.
But let me say again, as an educated, urban American I find no difference in the quality of thought as between educated, urban and uneducated rural.
I guess you’d have to take my word for it. Meanwhile before signing on to Steves’s characterizatioin of the scotch irish… gosh, i remember when they were noble Celts as opposed to us evil Anglo-saxons… i suggest you think about the 30 years war, the Hutu’s and the Tutsis, Tamerlane, Gengis Khan, Atila the Hun, Joe Stalin, Israelis and Palestinans, and the Comanches. Not to mentioin the Astecs, Incas, and Anasazi…
but you get the idea. hell I forgot to mention the swiss, and the swedes… go back a few years to see what they were like before they discovered “peace and neutrality.” Gee, did i mentioin Hitler and Mussolini, and Tiberius….
oh, and just to make sure you didn’t miss the point about “educated”… over half the participants and the Wansee conference (that establihed the “final solution”) had Ph.D’s
Reading the pious sanctimony preached by some on this thread who seem to (a) think they have a lock on understanding racism and (b) posture as though to lecture others on the topic, I can only recall the words of Andy Young, who I will paraphrase here: “Never trust anyone who says they aren’t racist. An honest person will say ‘I’m working on my racism.'”
you could easily be referring to me, but i agree with you.
Speaking of Racism…. Jews appear to be immune to criticism when they consistently insult and degrade Scots, Irish and Aryans in general.
These hit pieces are usually the work of the 2% – who use their considerable media muscle to attack their economic foes, – [white gentiles] – while advancing the interests of blacks and browns who aren’t an economic threat.
Just a subtext…. which probably won’t see the light of day for any time…. can’t be sayin anything wrong about them thar 2%ers….
they own the place… left and right
oh… and I am NOT working on my anti semitism….
I’m hoping others wake up and smell the gefilte fish
I don’t think it makes much sense to take a group to task for racism because they…take another group to task for racism. Especially when group B is plagued with lots of racism.
But: this post doesn’t just do that. It takes Appalachians to task for pugnacity, vengefulness, and…backwardness. Does it do so in an attempt to compete with that group for resources? I think quite the contrary. The liberal elite wants to give that group a bigger share of the pie (at the liberal elite’s expense), for all our benefit. cf a group I’m proud to be a part of, Patriotic Millionaires.
But we want them to stop attacking the very systems that promise to make their lot (and all our lots) better, based on outdated and delusional notions, and unconsidered tribal shibboleths.
They’re holding us all back — themselves in particular — for the sake of personal ego aggrandizement. Yeah, that gets under the skin of those who want the world to continue it’s long and fitful, but by all historical indications apparently inexorable, journey towards betterness.
The way to get them to give up their self-destructive backwardness is NOT to talk about “them” as if they were ALL backward, or even self-destructive. It is entirely possible they know something you don’t about what is important to them.
In any case sounding like a bigot yourself… no doubt a “good bigot,” bigoted only against “backward” people.. will not help YOUR cause, which, oddly enough, is … at least arguably… the same as MY cause.
and i wouldn’t count on things getting inexorably better.
It happens that I… a scots-irish person if it comes to that…. grew up in a place where there were lots of jews. All of the ones i knew were decent people, and none of them controlled world finance.
Your ignorance is dangerous. You need to take a look at the history of anti-semitism to see how dangerous and ugly it is.
I would only point out to Steve Roth and others here that anti semitism is hardly the exclusive property of backward Americans of scots-irish ancestry. But perhaps they know that already and just forgot it in the heat of having someone it is politically correct to hate.
Coberly to Steve Roth –
The way to get them to give up their self-destructive backwardness is NOT to talk about “them” as if they were ALL backward, or even self-destructive. It is entirely possible they know something you don’t about what is important to them. – See more at: http://angrybearblog.strategydemo.com/2013/07/the-appalachia-map-yet-again.html#comments
I’m sure they “know something we don’t know about what’s important to them. ” What I’ve seen demonstrated in my part of the country is that they value their very narrow definition of religion, their guns, their NASCAR races, their sweet tea and keeping out anyone who doesn’t look like them, i.e., white. And no, not all of “these people” are Scots-Irish. They all exhibit the same clannishness.
When I have attempted to engage someone in this camp in dialog about a sociopolitical issue, I have invariably gotten told how wrong I am because my position is “ungodly”, “sinful”, “communist/socialist”, etc. My daughter had the nerve to step outside their comfort zone in high school and was repeatedly told she was going to hell, or that “I’m praying for you”. Talk about smug self-righteousness! The folks around here invented it.
I’m curious to know what the average modern day Scotsman or Irishman would think of the kinship link being discussed here between themselves and American white southeasterners. Maybe on some remote ancestral level there is some connection between euro-origin southeaterners and the Scots and Irish. Emphasis on ancestral and having no recognizable connection in modern times. That is unless one is referring exclusively to the racist inclinations of the two groups, though I don’t see any evidence that the Scots nor the Irish are any more racist than any other group of people. All people suffer the illusions of ego- and ethno centrism, seeing themselves and their kinfolk as certainly superior to all others. It’s only the American southeasterner that can provide no tangible evidence to validate that illusion. Hmm, am I being racist, bigoted or mearly realistic? When I read crap as written by Jack Thompson I have to wonder.
And for all of those of you who still harbor the absurd concept that the Jews control the news please note; here are some well known, and lesser known, real life media moguls, recent past and present: Rupert Murdoch, Silvio Berlusconi, William R. Hearst, General Electric(no, that’s not an official military ranking), Time Warner(only a very distant relative of Jack Warner and no longer practicing any religious ideology), Sam Zell(a johnny come lately who seems to be giving up much of his real estate wealth in an effort to relplicate Hearst, but too late to the game), A.O. Sulzberger Jr. (note the use of Jr., Sumner Redstone, Morton Zuckerman.
Which if the above is Jewisn, and of those that have some parental link what connection do they have to the ideology?
no, they didn’t invent it. they suffer from it. you would not like it if i tried to point out the smug self righteousness of your own clan… but it is highly visible to those who are not members of it.
The Koch’s got their start in the newspaper business, and I am willing to bet they are neither jewish nor scots-irish.
i am a little mad at steve and sandi for buying into the racism, or classism, that the Koch’s et al use to keep us divided and hating each other instead of united against them. They are who are hurting us.
That said, it is really, really easy for humans to fall into racism… you do NOT “have to be carefully taught.” one bad experience… and they are easy to come by in “mixed neighborhoods”… with a person of different “race” or tribe is usually enough to make a person a racist even if he didn’t learn it over his father’s knee. This has something to do with the way the human brain works.. it “abstracts” “events” into “principles.” it has to. On the other hand, living in harmony with those of other persuasions can do a lot to overcome or prevent the racism human flesh is heir to.
We tried to educate people out of it in the fifties and sixties. but all we seem to have done is to create another class of smug racists who don’t even know that’s what they are.