The Democrats Can Win without a Southerner at the Top of the Ticket





Mr. Halpern, professor of history at Henderson State University (Arkansas), is the author of Unions, Radicals and Democratic Presidents: Seeking Change in the Twentieth Century (Greenwood Press, 2003).

Although media and public attention has focused on retired General Wesley Clark's military credentials and his dramatic late entry into the presidential race, in one key respect his candidacy as a Southerner represents something familiar in Democratic presidential politics. In the past three decades, the Democrats have nominated Southerners for president five of seven times. What's more significant, they've won only with Southerners.

Democrats' preference for Southern nominees in recent years represents a Democratic attempt to counter the Republicans' successful effort to shift the former Confederate states from solidly Democratic to a preference for Republicans in presidential elections.

The Democrats' dilemma began in the midst of Lyndon Johnson's landslide 1964 election when they watched Republican Barry Goldwater, an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, take five Southern states. Richard Nixon built on Goldwater's breakthrough when, as candidate and president (1968-1974), he inaugurated the Republicans' Southern strategy. Nixon won votes among whites opposed to or unsure about racial integration by opposing busing for desegregation and new civil rights advances. He also appealed to Southern regional pride, attacking the Democrats for anti-Southern bias when they rejected his nominations to the Supreme Court of Southern strict constructionists opposed by civil rights and labor groups.

Although Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment, the Republicans in most places in the South, and to an increasing degree in the rest of the country, embraced his approach to race. The GOP became a party opposed to African Americans and other minorities. Long the preferred party of business and the party of the comfortably well-off, the Republicans anchored themselves with their Southern strategy with a new mass base among a significant segment of low and middle income whites. The Democratic dominance of American politics established in the era of Franklin Roosevelt (1932-1945) came to an end.

Seeking to compete in presidential politics, Democrats nominated and won with Georgian Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Arkansan Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Carter in his first race and Clinton in his election and reelection succeeded in winning some Southern states. Both were moderates who appealed to regional feeling and residual party loyalty among moderate-to-conservative white Southerners. With the important exception of Clinton's 1992 campaign's rudeness to Jessie Jackson, both Carter and Clinton attempted with some success to pull white Southern opinion away from the racial and sectional divisiveness of the Republicans.
As helpful as Carter's and Clinton's victories were to promoting racial harmony in the South and in the nation as a whole, their victories in the long run proved costly to the Democrats. Neither presidency was successful. Both left office with fewer Democrats in Congress than when they entered it. Both left office with polls showing less public support for Democrats when they arrived in office.

Carter faced difficult challenges during his one-term presidency (1977-1981). Effectively managing the late 1970s economy and the Iran hostage crisis would have been difficult tasks for any president. When Carter shifted spending from social needs to the military, sponsored deregulation, and broke his promise to seek national health insurance, however, he angered core Democratic constituencies. His inability to win labor law reform disappointed his union allies. When Carter withdrew the SALT treaty from the Senate, canceled American participation in the Moscow Olympics, and renewed registration for the draft, he disheartened the peace movement. Carter's shift to center-right policies prepared the ground for Ronald Reagan's election as president in 1980 and six years of Republican control of the U.S. Senate.

Clinton's successful management of an economic boom during his two terms as president and his ability to isolate Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were important accomplishments. However, Clinton's initial failure to deliver on his 1992 promises of job creation, rebuilding the country's infrastructure, and enacting universal health care coupled with the passage of NAFTA and inaction on the workplace fairness bill led to Republicans gaining control of the Congress in the 1994 election. Although Clinton won reelection, his support for the Republicans' welfare reform bill and their approach to balancing the budget broke with the party's social reform tradition, weakened its ties to its principal constituencies, and undermined a return to a Democratic majority in Congress.

The preference of Southern voters for Republicans in presidential politics may seem to trap the Democrats into countering the GOP's Southern strategy with one of their own. But the South and the North have become more alike since the 1980s. It's honorable and decent to elect a moderate who really believes in and will contribute to promoting racial harmony and racial equality but it isn't enough. Voters are looking for a president and a congress that will put the country on the path of peace and social progress.

Al Gore, another moderate Southern Democrat running for president, hinted in his 2000 election campaign at an alternative strategy that could be effective for the Democrats nationwide.

In part influenced by the challenge of Green party candidate Ralph Nader, Gore successfully emphasized liberal and populist themes to appeal to core Democratic constituencies, winning more votes from those groups than had Clinton in 1996 as well as a popular vote plurality.* However, Gore also embraced Republican themes and agreed with Bush on many issues. Given the center-right record of both Gore and the Clinton administration, moreover, Gore was less successful in energizing support among low income voters, a traditional area of Democratic strength.

A trustworthy Democratic presidential candidate who pursues a consistent left-of-center course could galvanize a grass roots campaign in the women's, environmental, peace, civil rights, and labor movements. Such a campaign could bring many low income non-voters and youth into the political process. The Democrats can win the White House and a Congressional majority with a coalition of new voters, Greens, and the Democratic party's core constituencies.

The Democrats' strategy of nominating moderate Southerners brought some victories but not long-term progress for the party or the country. Rather than focusing on turning again to a moderate Southern nominee in hopes of preventing a Southern sweep by George W. Bush, the Democrats should instead focus on developing a strategy for effective governance. They need to explain how they will promote peace and security, provide jobs, and achieve new social reforms such as national health care. Putting forward a feasible plan would energize and expand the Democratic party's social base everywhere, including the South.

A progressive strategy would focus the nation's attention on repairing our frayed social contract. Democrats and all Americans ought to remember the words of Franklin Roosevelt: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

* Gore received a higher proportion of the vote in 2000 than Clinton had in such core Democratic constituencies as Democrats (86% compared with 84%), African Americans (90% compared with 84%), liberals (80% compared with 78%), working women (58% compared with 56%) and Jews (79% compared with 78%). Those supportive Union members gave Gore the same level of support as they had Clinton (59%) but turned out in much larger numbers than in 1996, contributing 15.3% to Gore's total vote compared with 13.6% to Clinton's. For details click here.


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F.H. Thomas - 10/28/2003


Dear Barbara, Boadacea of the South:

This is from the hetero white (1/2 Southern) male, your ofttimes supporter, who referred you to "The Tain", which depicts a real pre-Christian Celtic world in which women fight wars, control their own inheritance and destiny, belong to no one, talk back to whomever they please, and generally are differentiated only by their ability to bear children, and by their wealth.

"Men are desperate to have a woman. Men die at a younger age if they are single. Men who marry dependent women need to dominate and fear competition from women and strong women."

From several decades careful observation, I'd say this is pretty much true of both human genders, though other species may vary. The reason why we have succeeded where other species have not is that powerful instincts impel us to seek and provide specialized support, commitment, and sex to one another. Mutuality is the key to it for us humans. This is not a new concept:

Remember Chaucer: "Wonimen desiren to have sovereignitee as wel over hyr husbande as hyr love, and for to been en maistre hym above" (infinite mis-spellings). Also Boccaccio, whose Decameron story of Madonna Filippa is one of the funniest, truest, wisest and most memorable sexual essays ever (plus you'll laugh for 10 minutes). This is not a simple picture.

I wish you would cut our much maligned race/gender combination a teensy bit of slack. We're becoming an endangered species!

"You insist that you are selfishly doing what is in your own best interest which means that you care nothing about a single mom and then resent it if the democrats try to get her a job and off the welfare that you would end."

The most read and greatest of Enlightenment philosophers, Adam Smith, spent more paper than we have room for here untangling the tiny connections which show that precisely what Mr. S. Thomas suggests is true: ie that self interest gives the most wealth and freedom to the greatest numbers. His thought was the basis for all free societies. A hundred years later, Karl Marx asserted the opposite. Compare the results?

Regarding FDR, whom you mentioned elsewhere, consider this:

-FDR elected 1932, depression, brings in warmed over lefties, "experiments" with government meddling in the economy, self interest is out the window. In 1936 the US has no economic growth, but 12% unemployed. Almost not reelected.

-Hitler elected 1932, with 33%, in depression, brings in Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, finest governmental economist of the 20th century, gives him a free hand. By 1936, has 11% growth, and no unemployment. Schacht used straight economic stimulation: tax cuts, public works and deregulation. Re-elected with 94%.

-During this period the Brits and French split the difference, with about 6% growth, but then, unfortunately, they did not have a financial genius like Schacht to guide them. (By the way, Morgenthau eventually copied Schacht's methods for the US.)

This is not to forgive Hitler one bit for what he did later, and frankly without Schacht he may have foundered as badly as did FDR. I just wanted to compare economic methods and results.

"You say you do what is in your own interest and then claim blacks are leaving the democratic party which supports affirmitive action. Wouldn't you have a dim view of those blacks leaving the party that is in their best interests."

There is a new slavery today, a slavery of the dependent who are trapped in slums full of drugs, crime, and broken families. I cannot tell you how badly that makes me feel, for there is no solution in sight. The one thing I do know is that the present methods, including affirmative action, hand outs, etc won't cut it in creating a solution, and many blacks know it. I am not as convinced as Stephen on this, but I do see some abandoning the Democratic party, for self reliance.

Now, the hardest thing to ever do is to convince someone to change his or her mind, so I am not suggesting that. Rather, please consider this as a friend providing some fact and opinion which you can do with as you please.


Stephen Thomas - 10/27/2003

I am 53 years old and I move to San Francisco in 1972.

You really are a nitwit.


Stephen Thomas - 10/27/2003

Here's the address:

http://www.indegayforum.org/


Stephen Thomas - 10/27/2003

Nasty comments, Josh.

Andrew Sullivan's website is one of the most heavily trafficked on the web. Your refusal to accept the fact that that is indicative of a large number of gay men moving away from the Democratic Party is just wishful thinking. The proof is the numbers. You don't think they should, but that's another issue.

Visit the Independent Gay Forum and Overlawyered for yet more evidence.

And I live in the gay community of New York City, and I used to live in San Francisco. Josh, you are once engaging in that despicable nonsense of the left... gays who aren't gay the way you think they are supposed to be aren't actually gay. I'm observing and talking with real gay men, Josh. Does that register? Homosexuality seems to have been redefined so that, in addition to the usual same sex behavior, fealty to the Democratic Party is compulsory.

So, you think that it is a horrible betrayal for gay men to leave the Democratic Party. Many gay men do not and their numbers are increasing. I experience it in my daily life, nitwit. And, I'll tell you something else. There is enormous resentment and anger at men like you among my gay friends. They loathe the notion that they must bow to your strange ideological fixations.


Josh Greenland - 10/27/2003

"Precisely the same people who fund the Republican Party fund the Democratic Party."

No, they aren't "precisely" the same people. Yes, many of the very rich fund both parties, but your statement as written is untrue.

"You may not want a man, but most women do."

That was a crappy thing to say.

"In feminist circles, it is now common to suggest that women who want a man are not really women."

This is a load of hogwash. Are feminists now saying that heterosexual women are really hermaphrodites or transsexuals??

"In the same way, we are now hearing that blacks who dare to defect from the Democratic Party are not really blacks."

Likewise, this statement is untrue and bizarre.

"I live in one of the most integrated communities in America and work in a completely integrated corporation.... I've lived in predominantly gay communities my entire adult life,..."

So you are living in one of the most integrated predominantly gay communities in the USA?

Let me focus on the claim that you've lived in predominantly gay communities your whole adult life. I gather from your past posts that you're somewhat older than I am (mid-40s). If so, how have you managed to live in a predominantly gay community since age 18? You would have to have been raised in one, or left home and moved to one before you were 18 (not the usual path for a guy as strongly heterosexual as you claim you are). In the United States before the 1980s there would have been very few such communities, and every decade before that, fewer yet. You would have been VERY restricted in where you lived. No, I don't believe you. I think this is yet another one of your truly strange statements.

"...The big story there is that gays are leaving the Democratic Party in droves."

It's such a big story that no one has heard of it but you.

"The civil rights era is over, Barbara."

Dream on. While there is discrimination and there are usable remedies we will be in the Civil Rights era.

I don't know why anyone bothers to take anything you say seriously.


Josh Greenland - 10/27/2003

Actually, many Republicans do work substantively against gay people. But there is a lot of anti-gay puffery in the GOP, I'll agree.

As someone who lives in a town with a large, very Democratic gay community, I have seen no sign of gay people switching to the Republicans or longterm moving away from the Democrats. I agree that it could happen, and not much would have to change for it to happen, but I don't see any sign that it's happening now.

I didn't find anything on Sullivan's site talking about gays people and the Republican party. I think Stephen Thomas just lies for the sake of lying.


Josh Greenland - 10/27/2003

"If you have not noticed this phenomenon, it's because you don't want to see it."

My question was a straightforward one, but of course you included a put down. I was hoping you'd act counter to character, but that was foolishness on my part.

"Check out Andrew Sullivan's site and the Independent Gay Forum. Both address this phenomenon in great detail.

"It's right in front of your face."

That's a lie. I couldn't find anything confirming your bizarre assertion on Sullivan's site, and the IGF's search capability turned up a large number of irrelevant-looking hits which I don't intend to wade through. I should have known better than to believe you'd have anything of value to offer.


Bo Red - 10/26/2003


The STUPIDITY of some COMMENTS can lead to a general deterioration.


Bo Red - 10/26/2003


1. The topic is Democratic presidential politics, not 1930s banking
2. A subject line is A (one) line



Stephen Thomas - 10/26/2003

"The propaganda is just to get the votes of the gullible homophobics who also hate women and the poor."

There you go again, Barbara, accusing all those who disagree with you of bigotry. It's a nasty hangover of the 60s that the left cannot rid itself of. It's just plain bad manners, but you haven't figured that out yet. You are the problem that the Democratic Party needs to resolve to return to sanity.

Your outlook reminds me of the woman in The Color Purple who insisted that, since she had done so much for black people, Ciely owed it to her to work for her as a maid. Thus, blacks, gays and women are indebted forever to you and the Democratic party. Those who have other interests than you are rich, and ultimately bigots. What an ugly, vicious view of the world.

The world of the nasty rich and the virtuous poor that you fantasize is in the past. The average American worker has a big house, a garage big enough for several cars and eats to the point of obesity. When you continue with the phony talk, you only expose yourself as somebody who lives in the past.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/26/2003

Ms. Cornet,
Why do you attribute the views of particular authors to HNN? It is a venue of views. It published Maxwell and Ewert. Did that mean it endorsed the point of view of both authors? Hardly.


Barbara Cornett - 10/26/2003

I don't think the failures of democrats is a result of electing a southern democrat as Halpern suggests. Does anyone have evidence that the democratic party has failed because the Presidents were from the south?

I wonder why Halpern even writes about this, I doubt he or anyone else would have a problem if all of the Presidents had come from New England. So whats the problem? Why does HNN take this view? It is the same as when HNN took the side of Ewert in the Mobile article.


Barbara Cornett - 10/26/2003

ha, I mentioned Andrew Sullivan before I had read this post! I meant it as a joke because Sullivan is a flaming gay republican! So is David Brock, Cheney's daughter and Matt Drudge among many others such as the Log Cabin Republicans. I'm not surprised that Sullivan is peddaling that garbage.

It's not surprising that well to do gays are republicans just the same as most other rich people. Why wouldn't they be? For all of the propaganda put out by republicans that make it look like they are going to stop gays from taking over the world, in reality they do nothing negetive toward gays. The propaganda is just to get the votes of the gullible homophobics who also hate women and the poor.


Barbara Cornett - 10/26/2003

yeah he heard it from Andrew Sullivan and Bill O'Riely.


Barbara Cornett - 10/26/2003

wow did I say all of that? cool your jets and explain why the republican party considers you to be in its best interest or why it is in your best interest.

I never said anyone shouldn't be able to vote. I do think you should be able to make a simple argument for what you believe tho and evidently you would rather put words in my mouth then to explain your position which is not very promising.




Stephen Thomas - 10/26/2003

If you have not noticed this phenomenon, it's because you don't want to see it.

Check out Andrew Sullivan's site and the Independent Gay Forum. Both address this phenomenon in great detail.

It's right in front of your face.


Stephen Thomas - 10/26/2003

That's pretty much all you've got to say, Barbara. Who elected you God?

This tactic is now the predictable tactic of the left wing of the Democratic Party. Every argument Barbara has to make is an accusation of bigotry against somebody. And she's even expanded by suggesting that those she adjuges guilty of bigory should be disenfranchised from voting. Ugly.

It's godawful, loathesome, underhanded and stupid. Nobody buys it any more. It doesn't induce guilt in me, as you would like to do. It induces disgust.

Stop doing it, Barbara. You are disgracing yourself.


Josh Greenland - 10/26/2003

"I've lived in predominantly gay communities my entire adult life, and the big story there is that gays are leaving the Democratic Party in droves."

I live in a city with a large gay population and this is news to me. Do you have any documentation to back up your assertion, or any interesting anecdotes?


Barbara Cornett - 10/25/2003

Men are desperate to have a woman. Men die at a younger age if they are single. Men who marry dependent women need to dominate and fear competition from women and strong women.

The democratic party definitely needs to regroup and we need to vote out some of the republicans who are posing as democrats but we certainly are about more then your view of us.

You insist that you are selfishly doing what is in your own best interest which means that you care nothing about a single mom and then resent it if the democrats try to get her a job and off the welfare that you would end. You say you do what is in your own interest and then claim blacks are leaving the democratic party which supports affirmitive action. woudn't you have a dim view of those blacks leaving the party that is in their best interests.


Stephen Thomas - 10/25/2003

As I said, I have no allegiance to either party.

I've worked in law, publishing and finance in New York City for 25 years. Precisely the same people who fund the Republican Party fund the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is also the party of the super rich, particularly the Trial Lawyers Association. The notion that a political party should "look after me" is anathema to me.

As I've noted before, I have no interest in overturning the New Deal. It was the right thing to do.

Your comments about women and blacks are the typical condescending views about both that now predominate in liberal circles. You may not want a man, but most women do. In feminist circles, it is now common to suggest that women who want a man are not really women. In the same way, we are now hearing that blacks who dare to defect from the Democratic Party are not really blacks.

The era of obsession with discrimination is over, or else it should be. The conditions you've described have long since disappeared. I live in one of the most integrated communities in America and work in a completely integrated corporation. You are living in the past here. And you are doing this purposely. The wing of the Democratic Party you represent has to keep living in the past, and continue to pull out this complaint because it has nothing else to offer. Slowly, and imperceptibly you will see blacks leaving the Democratic Party. I've lived in predominantly gay communities my entire adult life, and the big story there is that gays are leaving the Democratic Party in droves. The Democratic Party must find something else to talk about or it is doomed.

The civil rights era is over, Barbara. All that is going on there now is the scam lawsuit and the extortion rackets.


Barbara Cornett - 10/25/2003

Stephen what do you think lifted many of the country's poor people into the middle class and allowed them to have better lives?

It was the programs of FDR and of the US government. The Tennessee Valley Authority helped the south. The GI Bill lifted thousands into the middle class. Millions of elderly people have security after they are too old to work because of the government. Thousands have received government grants or loans for college.

Democrats realize that we must win the economic wars as well as the military ones and that ALL people matter. They are the ones who would look after you. The republicans care only about the super rich. The republicans try to hold down wages and cut benefits and have recently attempted to cut out overtime pay. If the democrats hadn't stopped them they would have. How can you see the republican party as helping anyone? What in God's name do they do for you?

When they are against affirmitive action it is not because they care about you it is because they are against all who are not rich! I always laugh at white males because you think the republicans like you better then they like the rest of us! The joke is on you!

The war in Iraq represents trillions of dollars in investments by the American people. After our billion dollar military gained control of Iraq big business is reaping the profits of our investment and they are doing it with OUR money! That is the republican way! Democrats are attempting to hold them accountable for what they are spending. Iraq's oil should pay for the rebuilding but that has been turned over to ExxonMobile so they can reap the profits while we pay for rebuilding. How does that help you?

I do not benefit from affirmitive action but I support it. Blacks have suffered because white owned business has refused to hire them and has discriminated against them. There have been recent studies that show that people with ethnic sounding names such as Shanicka who have the same qualifications are passed over in favor of others with white sounding names. I don't think this is fair. Blacks have a right to make a living and many of these businesses receive government money and help.

I cannot believe that you think women become republicans after they get married! Why would a woman think of the government as father or husband??? That shows your bias about women and your belief that the government takes care of women as well as thinking that a woman has to have a man in order to prosper! Tell that to Hillary. Do you really think that women are so inferior that they can't make it without a man??? That is terrible! what a low opinion you have of women!

Why would you trust or support a party that is willing to discriminate against blacks, gays or women? Do you really think they wouldn't treat you in a shabby manner if it is in their best interests? Talking about doing what is in your best interests, why is it in the interests of the republican party to help you?


Stephen Thomas - 10/24/2003

Your remarks do raise important points, but you've missed an important part of my arguments along the way.

"Steve, we are only one generation from a time in which racial and gender discrimination in the workplace (and many other parts of the public sphere) was perfectly legal, and when illegal forms of discrimination were tolerated by people in high places in many states."

This description of history is more true in the abstract for all people than in reality for specific people. As I've often remarked, the feminist movement of the 1960s wasn't launched by poor, disenfranchised women. It was launched by upper class, college educated white women.

I'll try to explain this in specifics. My daughter called me after she attended her first semester of compulsory women's studies courses to ask me if I believed women were oppressed. I said "No." She replied, "But, women weren't even allowed to vote until 1920."

Well, my great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1880s. Nobody, male or female, in my family owned property or was enfranchised with the vote until well into the 20th century. This, in fact, is the true history of the vast majority of Americans of European descent. Poverty continued to plague my family until well into the 1960s. I am the first member of my extended family to graduate from a four year college. It seems impossible for liberal folks to understand this, but my mother worked out of absolute necessity and dreamed of the day when my father would make enough money that she didn't have to.

So, yes, discrimination existed. In the lives of most Americans prior to 1960, this really wasn't the issue. Hard to remember and hard to believe in retrospect, but it was not until the post-World War II period that most Americans of European descent attained a middle class life. Poverty, disenfranchisement and tenant status was the reality for the vast majority of such Americans.

Sure, there was a small percentage of European-Americans who enjoyed the status that liberal ideology likes to harp on. But, it wasn't the reality for most of us.

The reality for most of our fathers, mothers, and grandparents was poverty, hard work at dangerous and dirty jobs and powerlessness. This reality has been forgotten in the onslaught of liberal determination to paint European-Americans as villains. A phony history has been created in which white hetero men all held executive jobs and took home large paychecks. This is a lie. It is a lie that dominates this board. Part of the reason this lie survives is that the very men who suffered through this feel shame about their origins in poverty and will do almost anything to avoid talking about it.

This phony history has conflated the timeline of U.S. history into an absurdity. The vast majority of European-Americans immigrated to the U.S. from about 1880 to 1910. Those immigrants were dirt poor, starving and disenfranchised. Women obtained the vote in 1920. Black suffrage on a large scale arrived in the the 1960s. Do the math. We are not even talking about an entire human life span. This suggests that those European-American men were remarkably fair and open minded, and determined to extend to everybody the benefits that they themselves had only recently acquired.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/24/2003

It is one thing to assert one's self-interest when, traditionally, that self-interest has been favored over others.

It is another to assert it when one's self-interest, tradtionally, has been valued less than that of others.

Steve, we are only one generation from a time in which racial and gender discrimination in the workplace (and many other parts of the public sphere) was perfectly legal, and when illegal forms of discrimination were tolerated by people in high places in many states.

In the case of sexual preference, similar conditions continue.

You also state that politics is absolutely nothing but self-interest and should be nothing but self-interest.

Having seen a number of your comments, I don't think you believe that. Certainly none of your comments on the Civil War suggest that you think Confederate leaders were motivated solely by self-interest. And you clearly admire many of them precisely because they were not simply self-interested.

I cannot speak to how self-interest and idealism combine in you or in Barabara Cornett. I would have a hard time analyzing myself in that regard.

However, I will put this forward as a proposition: all else being equal, it is better to support groups that have been unjustly discriminated against in their move toward equality than not.


Stephen Thomas - 10/24/2003

Self-interest produces some strange results.

Don't know if you are aware of it, but there is a large and increasingly noisy men's rights movement out there. Take a look at these sites:

http://www.mensnewsdaily.com
http://www.mensactivism.com

I am not involved. I don't always agree or disagree. These groups tend to fall into the same trap as all narrow interest groups, the defining characteristic being the tendency to elect oneself to victim status.

However, you will find out something very interesting if you look around at the men's issues groups. Women occupy many of the most important positions in these groups, and write many of the articles on the sites. The reason is self-interest. Racial and sexual quotas don't just punish men. Those quotas punish the wives, girlfriends, etc. of those men. Unfair family law practices, likewise, don't just punish men. Those laws punish the women attached to those men.

One of the most noted tendencies on these sites is that women tend to change party affiliation shortly after marriage... from Democrat to Republican. As is often noted on these sites, the Democratic Party survives by offering women a substitute husband and father... the federal government. Once married, women decide that an actual husband and father beats a cold institution. And their self-interest changes. Likewise, the public berating of men as beasts becomes a whole lot less attractive once a woman is married and has an investment in a real man. I have observed that that sort of talk ceases about the time a woman gets married.


Stephen Thomas - 10/24/2003

I'm inclined to think that most Americans vote just the way I do... for their own self-interest. I really don't give a damn about either party, and I have no interest in saving the world. I'm for what's good for me and for my family. If you think about it, balancing such competing self-interests is the basic principle of U.S. democracy.

Over the long haul, the electorate makes the right choices, including refusing in large numbers to vote. The Democratic Party tactic of bypassing legislative action in favor of judicial fiat is well observed by the electorate and leads to total cynicism and withdrawal.

Barbara, now I'm going to have to disagree with you again. The negative "isms" you've attributed to southern white men are not true. They're not voting against something. They, just like me, know who serves their self-interest. They are voting for something... themselves and their families.

While it is nice if women, blacks and gays get ahead, how does that concern me? I don't care. And, if you think a minute, Barbara, you are the same as me. You care about women's issues because your bread is buttered there. Not mine. You are describing people as prejudiced and stupid because they defend their self-interests, and you are describing yourself as enlightened and smart because you are defending your self-interest. Seems a little unfair, and destined to get you in a fierce confrontational stance with others who have a different self-interest than your own. You are no different than a southern white man in this regard.

Would be a good idea to get the bitterness out of your remarks. Or, are you willing to ditch your self-interest for the greater good? Reminds me of the conversations I have with others about the sexual and racial quota systems. Those who benefit from those systems tend to be in favor of them, and inclined to ascribe very negative motives to those who do not benefit from them. Those who are punished by the quota systems tend to loathe them. Those southern white men you describe are the first to be punished by the quota systems, they are the constant target of derision and scolding in the press, and they are told that standing up for their self-interest is evil. This might well explain their hostility to the Democratic Party.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/24/2003

States are not in a good position to run deficits in time of need. The federal government is.

I've begun wondering if the Federal government could use its deficit "power" to encourage states to save money for a rainy economy and aid them in a poor economy by creating something along the following

1. States can put aside surpluses in a Federal Bond fund, providing interest.
2. States would be able to withdraw that money at any time.
3. States could also borrow money (up to a certain limit) as a zero-interest loan with a longish pay-back horizon--perhaps ten years. This would allow them a way to buffer themselves if bad times continue.

Would there be problems to work out? Sure.
You would have to decide the conditions under which states could borrow (letting them borrow in good times would be a major temptation)

You would also have to be creative in setting a limit in what they could borrow. The simpler the formula the better, but it ought to reward putting aside money in good times as well as reflect the size of the state and just how bad the situation is.

States would also have to look carefully at their anti-debt constitutional provisions and see if they would need to be altered to avail themselves of such a program.

Just a thought.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/24/2003

Lot's of good points, sadly.

It is not that Americans, even Southern Americans (I grew up in Texas myself), are born dumb. As someone once noted, it takes no more skill to understand politics than it takes to master baseball statistics. A Fantasy Football freek could be a political whiz.

Nor is it that Americans trust TV news They don't. They know TV newes orgs are biased, can lie, and will do most anything to make a buck. In short, Americans know they are pandered to.

Yet despite that knowledge few go farther than TV and an occaional local newspaper article to learn anything. That these Americans knowingly settle for a dishonest source for political information says more about how dysfunctional our politics are than any other single fact I can think of.

Does this help conservatives? Not necessarily. But it does explain why appeals to emotion often work better than facts.
And fear is one of the strongest emotions that can be appealed to.

The issues that Cornett says are used to appeal to southerners (particularly male) are fear and bigotry issues. Democrats have been known to use them, too. The campaign against NAFTA and the WTO often had a xenophobic touch to it (and in some localities, more than a touch).

But the Republics have the hot button issues in a growing part of the country. It does not mean victory forever. Their actions in Texas may alienate a whole generation of Mexican-Americans, and that group's growing, too. But right now, it gives them an edge.


NYGuy - 10/24/2003

Sleepless,

How about Roosevelt whose buddy Harriman was the biggest partner in BBH, and Bush's boss. Some say Roosevelt precipated the war with Japan so Harriman and his democrat friends could engage in war profiteering.


Sleepless in Seattle - 10/24/2003

How about studying the oldly-released government documents that reveal that the British government demanded the withdrawl of Ambassador Joseph Kennedy for his pro-Nazi stands and speech?

Oh, O forgot, only the Bushes can be judged ex post facto, not the sacred Kennedy family. After all, without the Kennedys, how would the East Coast have purchased boot-leg gin and how would the good folks of Chappaquah have financed a new bridge?


Buddy - 10/24/2003


Guess what, NYGuy ? We can read. We saw that article ALREADY !
Right here on HNN in front of our very eyes. By the way, let me introduce you to a new word: "summarize". It's a long one, I know, but your dictionary has it, I am sure. Look it up, and remember it next time you type in a "subject" line, please.

Your buddy


Barbara Cornett - 10/24/2003


The Senate has rolled back the FCC's rules regarding media ownership so that most of the media will not continue to be owned by a few corporations. Hastert and DeLay are refusing to allow the House to vote on the issue.

After reading your post I can see why they want the media to continue to be monpolized by rich corporations that can continue to feed the public propaganda.


Barbara Cornett - 10/24/2003

Whenever I see an article that explains why people vote the way they do it always makes me think that the writer is giving too much credit to the American public.

Most people have no idea what a candidate actually stands for and there are so many complex issues for the public to deal with, keeping up with them is a full time job. Even if a citizen reads news sources daily and makes an effort to follow politics, they are still lost without history and context. Republicans justifying war in Iraq by claiming that Saddam killed his own people is an example. Rumsfeld was in Baghdad while Saddam was carrying out these policies and the Reagan administration was giving him wmd at the time and yet many members of the public have been completely fooled.

The reason most people vote as they do is completely dependent upon who the media blesses and who they want defeated. Its all in the spin. TV, for all of its potential is nothing but a vehicle for selling. It doesn't matter if its soap, cars or candidates, the people are conditioned to respond the same. Their minds are open and passively, unquestionably receiving. It is no accident that the public is trained to be passive and acted upon.

Surely Mr Halpern is not serious.

The parties have to carry the south to win. The democrats in the northeast are stuck in the 60s. No wonder they have to choose a southern democrat if they want to win a national election.

It is more complex then Halpern makes it appear, but republicans are able to get southern white votes because of a few core issues which they lie about. They claim to be the party of family values/Christian, against welfare (black single moms), against gays and gay rights (its anti-christian plus the fact that southern white males are extremely homophobic), pro guns, pro military, anti-women, and anti abortion. Southern conservatives respond to propaganda which the media does nothing to correct but actually encourages.






NYGUY - 10/23/2003

Cram,

Enjoyed your thoughtful comments and believe this quote from one of the articles you cited frames the problem nicely:

What's left is for governors to appeal to Washington, hat in hand. While 49 of the 50 states are barred from running deficits, the federal government faces no such prohibition. Besides, governors argue, the states owe at least part of this crisis to Washington, which has saddled them with unfunded mandates in education, healthcare, election reform, and homeland security. After 9/11, President Bush and the Congress promised $3.5 billion to the states to help train and equip "first responders" - police, firemen, rescue workers. Congress has yet to authorize the money.

And this:

The federal government can take action to help states avoid these severe cutbacks by providing fiscal relief to states. This would not only protect vital services from being cut and ameliorate the extent to which additional burdens will fall on low- and middle-income families, but also would be one of the most effective steps the federal government could take to stimulate the economy.

NYGuy,

I think this shows why this is not a simple problem to solve. The comment on financing the war on terror is a fair one. On the other hand we have to get the economy restarted which will also help the States. Tax cuts are one way but as mentioned above increasing debt by the Government is another way. We want to provide services, but we have to protect our citizens. What is the trade off?

I think a strong and growing economy is needed, but we may disagree on how fast that will happen, although I think we have started that recovery.

I did find it interesting to see that both CA and NY have large deficits. I might have to be kinder in my criticisms of our friends out West.:)

Cheers



NYGuy - 10/23/2003

NY Guy

The above headline and story is found on the HNN main page under breaking news which is on the right side of the page.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

NYGuy

New scholarship posted on HNN supports historians claim that the Bush family collaborated with to bring Hitler to power and plunged the world into chaos in order to build the family fortune.

Muslin leaders seized on the new scholarship to help their fund raising activities and encourage their followers to kill American soldiers and drive the Bush businessmen out of Iraq. Dean people are using the research to support his foreign policy of cut and run.

The White House did not respond.


Cram - 10/23/2003

NYGuy:
You will get no disagreements from me regarding CA’s financial woes. However, the fact remains that States face the largest budget problems in 50 years and this has been due, at least in part, on the federal government.

"While 49 of the 50 states are barred from running deficits, the federal government faces no such prohibition. Besides, governors argue, the states owe at least part of this crisis to Washington, which has saddled them with unfunded mandates in education, healthcare, election reform, and homeland security. After 9/11, President Bush and the Congress promised $3.5 billion to the states to help train and equip "first responders" - police, firemen, rescue workers. Congress has yet to authorize the money. Bush's 10-year tax cut has also cut into state revenues, because of the links between state and federal tax codes."

(I have to add this part, I just can’t resist ; )
I agree with you that "There are States that are financially prudent and understand the economy goes through cycles. It is called planning." I certainly hope you keep that in mind as we go into the 2004 elections. Since this Administration took office, nearly three million Americans have seen their jobs disappear. The unemployment rate has risen to over 6%. Nine million people are unemployed, and a whooping deficit that could reach $450 billion. Howard Dean, on the other hand, as the chief executive of a State, was able to reduce taxes, maintain a balanced budget, expand health care, and increase funding for education.

(Please note that the above quote comes from the following CSM article)
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1227/p01s04-usec.html
http://www.cbpp.org/12-23-02sfp.htm


NYGuy - 10/22/2003

To Cram:

You raise good points but there are other elements to be considered in this topic. It is clearly the State and local government’s responsibility to keep its financial house in order.

In order to compete favorably in the debt markets, States go to rating agencies who assign them credit scores, which rate the States fiscal policies. The more a state is fiscally responsible the higher the rating, while those who spend like a drunken cowboy on a Saturday night get lower ratings. In the case of CA we find:

“Moody's and Standard & Poor's, citing the budget stalemate and the recall movement, placed the state on their watch lists for possible downgrade in the next 90 days. Moody's rates California debt at A2, the lowest rating among the 50 states, along with New York and Louisiana. Standard & Poor's, which uses a different nomenclature, rates California debt at A, the lowest of any state. “

I don’t believe the citizens of a State should be able to be fiscally irresponsible and then say the rest of the country should bail them out. The amount given back to the States by the government does not vary widely from year to year and the States know the numbers before they pass their budgets. To just say that a State like CA can be financially irresponsible and then blame it on GW is not a fair assessment. There are States that are financially prudent and understand the economy goes through cycles. It is called planning

Cram

“My point was simply that the financial situation at the federal level effects State appropriations,”

NYGuy

I think I understand what you are saying that the federal government should keep States financially sound. But they can't do that from the appropriations side which is the provence of the State. I will agree that the national economy does have a bearing on the level of State "revenues" which involves national economic variables such economic growth, unemployment, consumer spending, etc. that do effect a States “revenues”. But, the appropriation of funds is the clear responsibility of the State.

If, as in CA they carry out policies in which fund outlays greatly exceed fund inflows, then they get low scores for their financial management. That is a local issue not a federal issue and the local citizenry bear the full responsibility not the federal government. Therefore CA’s wild, drunken, Saturday night cowboy behavior, can not be blamed on GW nor anyone else who does not live in CA. If they want to have a welfare state, that is fine all they have to do is pay more taxes so they can afford it and which means taking it out of their own pockets.

We in NY State also have financial problems dating back to Cuomo. :)


Edmund Birkenstock - 10/22/2003


1. Federal deficits are a federal responsibility.
2. There is a difference between nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.
3. Large and long-lasting deficits tend to be accompanied by considerable inflation.


Cram - 10/22/2003

Q: "Since when were any of these problems a Federal responsibility?"
A: The issue is not whether they are the federal governments responsibility (they are not), the issue is the effect Bush’s economic policies have on the country. My point was simply that the financial situation at the federal level effects State appropriations, which in turn, effect public education (and a whole lot of other things). The point was to draw a connection between individual financial considerations and decisions made at the national level.

As a side, I would argue that teachers unions, local school boards, state legislatures, and department of education are a terrific benefit to citizens, and while there are numerous anecdotal examples of unions-gone-crazy, school boards making foolish decisions, etc., I think they are really the only ones fighting for continuing funding for the education of the nations children. Establishing priorities that Americans care about is the best way for the Democrats (or any candidate) to win in 2004.


NYGuy - 10/22/2003

The following article is now on HNN as breaking news.

“Ruthless art thieves are rapidly stripping Asia's cultural sites of precious artifacts and selling them to smugglers and dealers who hawk them in the West.

A TIME Special Report.”

“The dramatic ransacking of Baghdad's national museum during the Iraq war may have grabbed headlines earlier this year, but the consistent, widespread and largely unremarked looting of Asia is far more damaging. "There is a feeling that Asia is filled with endless supplies of cultural relics," says He Shuzhong, head of Cultural Heritage Watch, a nongovernmental cultural-preservation group in Beijing. "But if the looting continues at this pace, we'll soon have nothing left to remind us of our glorious past.

Baghdad was just a few weeks of destruction. Our heritage is experiencing a major blow every week, every month, every year."

NYGuy

While I found this an interesting article it failed to mention how Rumsfeld, the U. S. Dept. of Defense, the US Generals, the soldiers in Iraq and other neo-cons failed to stop this looting of our heritage.

After the failed US policy in protecting the Baghdad Museum from thieves are we now giving the US military a pass?


John Kipper - 10/22/2003

I should point out that I started attence at San Jose State in 1965, only forty years ago. MY GOD, I'm old.


John Kipper - 10/22/2003

"We face one of the largest federal deficits in history under Bush, states are going broke due to a lack of federal funding, causing property taxes to sour, tuition rates to skyrocket, schools to remain undefended, and countless other economic problems."

Since when were any of these problems a Federal responsibility? I am especially interested in the Federal reponsibility for state college tuitions and local school districts budgets. Why are Feds responsible for financing state and local institutions? And, come to think of it, why are the Feds responsible for the performance of local school and colleges? Oh, I know, because the teacher's unions, the local school boards, state legislatures and departments of education are too busy tending to to other business, such as continuing their existence to the detriment of the citizens.

Of course, it would be incorrect to point out that when I attended SAn Jose State (at that time) College, the total tuition bill was $37.50 a semester, plus parking, student activity fees and parking. But then, of course, modern college education is 1000% better than mine.


Cram - 10/22/2003

I cannot help but comment on the claim:
"The US’s statue has been restored in the world, and the world is rallying around GW for his leadership in the war on terrorism, his economic policies are pulling us out of the Clinton recession"

By what possible measurement are these claims made?

Regarding international opinion of the United States, it has gone down to "shocking levels" according to recent international polls. According to the Pew Research Center, "Despite an initial outpouring of public sympathy for America following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, discontent with the United States has grown around the world over the past two years. Images of the U.S. have been tarnished in all types of nations: among longtime NATO allies, in developing countries, in Eastern Europe and, most dramatically, in Muslim societies."

The article goes on,
"America is nearly universally admired for its technological achievements and people in most countries say they enjoy U.S. movies, music and television programs. Yet in general, the spread of U.S. ideas and customs is disliked by majorities in almost every country included in this survey. This sentiment is prevalent in friendly nations such as Canada (54%) and Britain (50%), and even more so in countries where America is broadly disliked, such as Argentina (73%) and Pakistan (81%)."

At the start of the Iraq war, Newsweek noted that "The war is now going far better for America. But the fact remains: the United States has lost hearts and minds — and credibility — all over the world, not just the Middle East." Even in victory, the Iraq war had the support of a clear majority in only one other country other then the United States.

As for Bush’s tax cuts, we could argue over the ethical dimensions of giving a tax break to the rich until we are blue in the face but the facts remain the facts: We face one of the largest federal deficits in history under Bush, states are going broke due to a lack of federal funding, causing property taxes to sour, tuition rates to skyrocket, schools to remain undefended, and countless other economic problems.

Bush has been a miserable disaster for this country on virtually EVERY level outside of the immediate war against Afghanistan (I will give him that much).

Such myths about Bush’s leadership ushering in an era of goodfeeling and economic prosperity simply cannot withstand the awesome power of the facts.

Check out:
http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=165
http://www.iht.com/articles/98398.html
http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/bulletin/EdDesk.nsf/0/e1a2a517220f3cecca256d0100022802?OpenDocument


NYGuy - 10/22/2003

Thomas,


“No one in either main political party has much of a clue about how to get America on a path towards safely negotiating our way in a world that is dying ecologically, where wealth and resources are very unfairly distributed, and where a global population growing by over one hundred thousand persons per DAY is being greeted by (according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal) an unskilled and semi-skilled labor demand that is in global DECLINE. Further delay in tackling these challenges bodes ill for our children and grandchildren, but the first step, for Americans wanting to move towards overcoming these intractable challenges, is to push for reversing the misguided policies, asinine policy-less practices, and amoral predilections in Washington which are making all these problems both worse and harder to confront.”

“The main issue for 2004 is the Bush Administration's disastrous foreign policy, one that is fueling global terrorism, alienating longstanding allies, and turning world opinion against the U.S. for no good reason at all.”

“…will they eventually rally behind presidential and congressional candidates with the backbone to speak out consistently and convincingly in favor of a workable and pro-American foreign policy, and against the cowardice, incompetency, corruption, and shameful deceptions of the unelected incumbent team ?”

NYGu

You say you read the WSJ, so you must have become aware of GW’s vision and success in foreign policy. In my opinion this vision is beginning to solve many of the world problems you speak of.

Meanwhile, we have democratic Presidential candidates who have no clue about what is happening in the world, let alone being able to come up with solutions and formulate a foreign policy.

The US’s statue has been restored in the world, and the world is rallying around GW for his leadership in the war on terrorism, his economic policies are pulling us out of the Clinton recession and because of him the ROW is now able to grow economically which will only lead to peace.

Aside from GW’s leadership, and vision I find no other foreign policy proposals that are better. Can you help us? Do we want to be rudderless like we were in the past 10 years? Can the democrats articulate a leadership program that will exceed that of GW’s.? What should it be.

Inquiring minds want to know.


Thomas Gallatin - 10/21/2003

The overriding issue of the 2004 national election, at least so far, is neither some cooked-up North vs South "divide", as Martin Halpern rightly observes, nor, as he erroneously assumes, is it about "repairing our frayed social contract". As important as jobs and health care are, the longstanding trends towards economic instability and political dysfunctionality that lie behind economic and social insecurity in America are and have long been driven by global forces reinforced by bi-partisan mistakes. No one in either main political party has much of a clue about how to get America on a path towards safely negotiating our way in a world that is dying ecologically, where wealth and resources are very unfairly distributed, and where a global population growing by over one hundred thousand persons per DAY is being greeted by (according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal) an unskilled and semi-skilled labor demand that is in global DECLINE. Further delay in tackling these challenges bodes ill for our children and grandchildren, but the first step, for Americans wanting to move towards overcoming these intractable challenges, is to push for reversing the misguided policies, asinine policy-less practices, and amoral predilections in Washington which are making all these problems both worse and harder to confront.

The main issue for 2004 is the Bush Administration's disastrous foreign policy, one that is fueling global terrorism, alienating longstanding allies, and turning world opinion against the U.S. for no good reason at all. Will Democratic voters rise up to reject the spineless hypocrites like John Kerry who cravenly voted for the arrogant, deceptive and blunder-ridden Iraq War, and will they eventually rally behind presidential and congressional candidates with the backbone to speak out consistently and convincingly in favor of a workable and pro-American foreign policy, and against the cowardice, incompetency, corruption, and shameful deceptions of the unelected incumbent team ? That is the question, not Wesley Clark's accent, and not the utopian dreams of Hubert Humphrey.

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