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Hullabaloo


Sunday, February 27, 2005

 
Southern Man

Kevin Drum features an interview with political strategist David “Mudcat” Saunders:

SouthNow: Why did the Democrats lose in 2004?

Mudcat: They can’t f***’n count. That’s the Democrats’ problem. You don’t get in the football game and punt on first down. You concede nothing. We condeded 20 states at first and then six more by Labor Day. That’s 227 electoral votes. Bush only needed 18 percent of the remaining electoral votes to win.

SouthNow: What’s the prescription for Democrats?

Mudcat: There’s only one precription and that’s tolerance. I’m a white, southern male who hunts. I’m a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has two black members, by the way. I don’t know how many northern Democrats who have tolerance for my kind.

SouthNow: What’s your strategy for Southern progress?

Mudcat: We need to quit all this tap dancin’ around the truth....We need to stop tap dancin’ around the issues of guns, gays and God....We’ve lost the white male. We need to get ‘em back. We need to get through the cultural wall. It’s a wall of straw. Inside every rural Republican is a Democrat trying to get out.

Saunders, who has worked on the campaigns of Mark Warner, John Edwards, and Bob Graham, thinks that if Democrats ease up on the culture stuff they can win in the South: "We’ve got an affection for big guns and fast cars. It’s a macho thing. I’ve not seen any attempt by the Democrats to get into that culture."


Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter were all southern white males, and we blue staters voted for them without a second thought. Before that, Lyndon Johnson won the blue states in a landslide. As I recall, we rather rather liked their southern roots. Let's just get this one thing straight. The theory that non-southerners are intolerant of "his kind" is undisputably wrong. We have happily voted for southern white males many times. It's southerners who refuse to vote for anyone who comes from anywhere else.

But, just being happy to vote for southern white males isn't good enough, is it? We don't properly get into macho, good ole boy culture. Ok. Let's try that. I have absolutely no problem with a born again, cowboy hat wearing president from a southern state who hunts and drives fast cars and even, dare I say it, engages in the most macho sport of all --- clearing brush. He can tie on a six gun and practice quick drawing in the rose garden for all I care. I am not offended by any of those things.

But again, that's the problem, isn't it? It is not enough to be tolerant. We must adopt both their style and their policies before they are happy. Everyone must be a NASCAR fan. If you are not, they will take it to mean that you disrespect their love of NASCAR. Everyone must hunt. If you don't, then you are being intolerant of their love of hunting. If you don't talk about religion the way they talk about it, you are not properly religious. Rappers must wear cowboy boots, hispanics must speak English, we all have to drive American trucks with confederate flags on the back and drink Jack and be exactly like these macho, southern white men before they will feel secure enough to vote with us.

And let's not pretend that we will not also have to tell the various constituencies in the party who find their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be contingent on being allowed to control their own bodies, marry whom they choose and practice or not practice the religion of their choice that they are shit out of luck. That's part of the deal.

Let's face facts here. The answer to this problem is that in order to get the macho white southern male vote we all must become macho white southern males and that is just not humanly possible. We can certainly try to engage them with an attitude of intense interest in their culture if that's what it takes. But, I doubt it will make much of a difference.

Mudcat may look at a white southern male Republican and see a Democrat trying to get out, but I just see a bunch of insecure white guys who think everybody else ought to be just like them. And if you look at the leadership of the Republican party they've got exactly what they want. Why would they change?




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