Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Has Southern white extremism taken over the GOP?

On more than one occasion I've mentioned Chris Caldwell's 1998 Atlantic essay, The Southern Captivity of the GOP. Chris is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, so it's hard to charge liberal bias.

In 1995 Michael Lind (a Texan) wrote an article for The New Republic that called the 94 take over of the House as a Southern Coup. Lind tried to put the extreme politics of the Gingrich Congress in an historical perspective.

Lind has updated his 1995 article with a new article in Salon entitled, The Tea Party, the debt ceiling, and white Southern extremism. Lind makes the case that the so called Tea Party is just the latest incarnation of Southern minority extremism holding the country hostage to get what they want.
From the earliest years of the American republic, white Southern conservatives when they have lost elections and found themselves in the political minority have sought to extort concession from national majorities by paralyzing or threatening to destroy the United States....

The Republican Party's attempted government shutdown of 1995 marked the new domination of the Republican Party by Southerners like Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. The impeachment of their fellow Southerner Bill Clinton was an attempted coup d'├ętat by the Southern white minority in the United States, which, as in 1860, was frustrated because its candidate lost the presidential election.

The debt ceiling crisis is the latest case in which the radical right in the South has held America hostage until its demands are met. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln refused to appease the Southern fanatics. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress chose not to follow their example and instead gave in. In doing so, they have encouraged the neo-Confederate minority in Congress to find yet another opportunity in the near future to extort concessions from America's majority by sabotaging America's government.
While you might not buy into all of Lind's thesis (I do), it's hard to argue that with the Gingrich Congress in 1994, that Southern extremist politics took over the GOP. Clearly, this is not the party of Goldwater, Nixon, or George H.W.

(HT The Dish)

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