Thursday, November 7, 2013

How did the Tea Party GOP Win Over the South? A Conversation With Glenn Feldman, Author of "Painting Dixie Red: When, Where, Why, and How the South Became Republican"

How did the Republican Party turn the South from supporting the "Democrats" to now being solidly "red?" Why do white Southern voters consistently support racial identity politics that hurt their economic self-interest? Is the effect of the Southern Strategy exaggerated by the media? Ironically, is the election of Barack Obama the best thing which has happened to the treasonous Confederacy reborn that is the Tea Party GOP?

Given the current tenor of American politics and the rise of the White Right--and its death hold on the Republican Party and the broken national politics that have subsequently been created--these are all critical questions. 

In this newest episode of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes, I had the good fortune to chat with Professor Glenn Feldman, Full Professor in the Department of History at University of Alabama-Birmingham, about how the South's dysfunctional politics have been mainlined into the American body politic. 

There are many misunderstandings--even among "expert" political observers--about how the particular politics of the South became exported nationally by the Republicans. Glenn offers a dynamic, rich, and nuanced portrayal of the personalities and logic that drove the South to embrace the Republican Party from the New Deal forward. 

The Neo Confederate yearnings of the contemporary Republican Party and the White Right have been decades in the making. Professor Feldman does some great teaching during this most recent podcast here on We Are Respectable Negroes. I learned a great deal; I do hope you find it equally valuable.

This was a great conversation. 

3:35 As someone who studies Southern Politics and the Republican Party, are you intellectually excited by the Right's open embrace of white supremacy and the Neo Confederacy in the Age of Obama, or as a citizen,are you deeply disturbed by these events?
5:44 You teach in the South. How do your students respond to your critical interventions about the ugly politics of the Tea Party GOP, the White Right, and their embrace of reactionary politics? 
9:12 The rise of false equivalence, the media entertainment complex, faux populism, and the "Southern Religion".
11:57 What makes Southern Politics "Southern?" On how Southern politics is based on using emotional appeals to manipulate working class and poor white voters.
17:18 Are the masses asses? Are Southern voters who vote for white skin privilege over material self-interest just using a different voting calculi?
20:37 If you are a Southern oligarch, how do you keep power in a democracy where votes are counted? How the first and second "great meldings" help to solve this problem for white elites.
25:34 Is is possible for those of us, not of the "blood and soil" of the South to "get" and understand the appeal of "Southern" heritage for those who live there?
29:00 That great moment when white folks researching their "honorable" roots in the Confederacy discover that they have black relatives.
30:52 Do some white Southerners realize that the white poor died to protect a white supremacist military state and this is something to reject, not to be honored?
34:26 How did the Republicans flip the South "red". How the South didn't really change, and came home to its natural home in the Right.
36:19 Franklin Roosevelt, the New Deal, and South's embrace of the Republican Party.
39:33 Is it a misunderstanding of the historic politics of race and class in America, that the South was able to deny African-Americans access to New Deal programs?
42:40 Elites in the Republican coalition do not believe the religious-racial-emotional appeals. They are a means to an end to manipulate their base. 
43:35 Economic fundamentalism, false consciousness, and religious fundamentalism as ways of manipulating the Republican base. How different is neo liberalism from religious fundamentalism?
45:33 Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson's role in push the South to the Republican Party.
50:03 White anxiety and hostility towards black veterans as social change agents.
54:44 How the Republicans maintain the contradiction that they are "the Party of Lincoln" with mining white racism and white racial resentment in the post civil rights era for electoral gains.
56:02 Conservatives, mythological thinking, and an embrace of false realities.
60:00 Mobilizing the base and getting low information voters to support your cause.
61:01 Lee Atwater and his impact on contemporary politics with the "Southern Strategy".
61:05 Republican Party elites have apologetically admitted to using the Southern Strategy and white racial resentment to mobilize white voters.
61:07 Were Reagan, Bush, Romney, etc. "misled" or "tricked" by their advisers into using the Southern Strategy?
70:03 "Useless eaters", Ayn Rand, American libertarianism, neo liberalism, and white racism in the contemporary Tea Party GOP.
71:05 In Political Science and American history there is a trend among younger scholars and graduate students to embrace conservative colorblindness, and to parrot the talking points generated by libertarian and Right-wing think tanks such as the Claremont Institute.
71:13 The Right-wing echo chamber and rewriting the historical record around race, the South, and the Republican Party.
78:00 Is Barack Obama a long-term aid and asset for the Republican Party and its efforts to use white racial resentment to mobilize its voters?
80:34 How can listeners to the podcast find your books? What are your future plans?


wawoo said...

This is a great interview that lucidly explains so much. Thank you for this. As a born in Gadsden County, Florida and raised in the Florida Panhandle and Home of the Gators Gainesville with ancestors that were enlisted ranks in the Confederate Army and relatives that were yellow dog Democrats and are now self described fervent conservative Republicans every bit of this resonates.

chauncey devega said...

Thank you. Dr. Feldman is cool folks w. some a wealth of knowledge and expertise. He also has the rare ability among academics to be able to communicate these ideas and points clearly and in an engaged manner. He did some great work here and I hope it circulates about. His voice is one that we really need to hear more of.

gordon_gartrelle said...

Not sure why the commenters are lurking. This was another fantastic interview.

chauncey devega said...

We have had some good links to this and hits online for the piece. Puzzling though. But I suppose that folks are listening and downloading and sharing elsewhere.