We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns. It's the Southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, 'These people, they're Southerners. The party's being taken over by Southerners. What the hell they got to do with Ohio?' --retiring Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)I wonder, has Senator Voinovich been reading my blog? Now that he's retiring, Senator Voinovich seems to have recognized something that has been apparent to anyone not blinded by red/blue political zealotry.
The Republican party, in a sublime twist of historical irony, is now firmly in the hands of the descendants of the Old South. Some 140 years after Appomattox, the toxic spirit of the Confederacy lives on in the form of the very party that crushed and humiliated them in the 1860s. Alas, for Abraham Lincoln!
So, what is the basis for this assertion?
Firstly, so-called "conservatives" in the Republican party have very nearly succeeded in driving out anyone that does not adhere to the hard line. Senator Arlen Specter is the most recent example, of course. But, before him, there was Senator Jim Jeffords. And, as has been mentioned many times since the last national election, when Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT) was defeated, the GOP lost its last congressional seat in the entirety of New England.
The GOP is now, effectively, a single voting bloc, the largest of the multitude of factions in the legislative branch of government. Unlike the Democrats, who are an amalgamation of countless different interest groups (labor unions, racial minorities, gays, feminists), the Republican party has purged itself and is now a party almost exclusively for white Protestant conservatives.
Back in the days when this demographic was the unequivocal majority in the nation, the GOP could afford to tolerate other factions within its party. But now that national demographics have changed, the party needs lock-step unity; it can no longer suffer dissent within its ranks. And although there are white Protestant conservatives throughout the country, the old South is the one region where they still hold sway electorally and demographically.
Secondly, of course, there is the ugly not-so-subtle race-baiting, homophobia, and religious prejudice. These are the legacy of the nativism that Southern gentry exploited to such tragic effect in the early 1800s. As the national trends toward gay rights, immigration reform, and a diminution of Christian influence continues, conservatives will undoubtedly become even more recalcitrant.
Upon signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson lamented, "We have lost the south for a generation." Well, he was right on that score. But when you consider what we have gained in return --huge strides in racial and gender recognition, tolerance toward gays and everything else --it has been worth it.
Let the neo-confederates have their sh*tholes. Let them have the Republican party. We don't need it and we don't need them.