Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Would V.O. Key Do? Why Aren't There More Political Scientists and Historians On TV and Radio Talking about the Tea Party GOP's Shutdown Politics and Their Origins in the Old Confederacy?

The shutdown of the United States government by the Tea Party GOP is a national civics lesson for the American people. This moment is a clear example of the worries expressed by the Framers in the Federalist Papers about the tyranny of the minority, and how a small group of monied interests can sabotage democracy. The Tea Party GOP shutdown is also an opportunity to educate the American people about how a yearning for the Confederacy, and a return to an "idyllic" pre-Civil War America, has possessed the Republican Party in the 21st century.

As such, this is an opportune time for historians and political scientists to serve as expert commentators and guests on the cable news and other media outlets. Unfortunately, very few (if any) of them have been given the chance to relate their specialized training to what is an immediate and critical issue of public concern.

The main reason for their absence is how public pedagogy is greeted with much suspicion by traditionalists inside the academy.

Unfortunately, academia loses its social relevance when those with expert knowledge--as opposed to generalists and the usual suspects who seem to appear on every cable news show--either are not given a broader platform on TV or radio, or choose not to insert themselves into the broader conversation.

The public also loses as they are deprived of the context for understanding the Tea Party GOP's shutdown of the United States government, and the ugly history of State's Rights and Secession of which the contemporary Republican Party is a direct descendent.

To be fair, there have been a few moments during this national debacle when appeals have been made to the work of political scientists such as that of Juan Linz and his research on the American Presidency.

And Michael Lind writing over at Salon has provided some great historical context regarding how the Tea Party GOP's treasonous antics are part of a long term (and old) strategy by Southern elites to resist federal authority in order to maximize the financial gains of the (former planter class) white southern "aristocracy" and its allies in big business.

During the shutdown crisis imposed on the American people by the Tea Party GOP, I have been thinking of V.O. Key. He was/remains one of the most important figures in the field of Political Science, and a familiarity with his work is considered obligatory for professional students of American politics, public opinion, and American political development.

In his seminal book Southern Politics in State and Nation, Key suggested that the Negro was the "glue" that binded together the "Solid South" and detailed the region's "abnormal" one-party politics during the post-Reconstruction Jim and Jane Crow era.

Building upon Key's work, The New Southern Politics makes the following observation, one which is very helpful if we are to understand the Tea Party GOP as a Southern political organization--with all of the history and baggage that comes with said identity:
Political culture refers to the attitudes and evaluations people have toward government. Here, too, the South remains unique. One-party politics, legislative governance, a distinct Christian rhetoric about values, colorful executives with flamboyant leadership styles, a preference for an elitist social system, and a popular resistance to centralized authority made southern politics extraordinary. These attitudes and patterns of life are transmitted from generation to generation through political socialization and participation.
The union of white racism and conservatism in the Age of Obama, along with the open resurrection of the Confederacy by the Tea Party GOP in both its rhetoric and chosen symbols, are V.O. Key's observations about Southern "political culture" (and its actors) moved to the national stage.

The Tea Party GOP's effort to sabotage the United States government is a continuation of an old political struggle that reaches back more than 100 years wherein the plutocrats of the Old South have been replaced by the 1% robber barons of the present.

During the 19th century, the elites of the Confederacy were able to convince hundreds of thousands of poor and working class whites to go off to the slaughter of the Civil War in order to defend chattel slavery and white supremacy. Today, the Koch Brothers and the other plutocrats send off their low information propagandized Fox News viewers, the useful idiots of the Tea Party, to do their bidding.

Faulkner famously wrote that “The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.” Historians and political scientists have an obligation to educate the American public about how the Tea Party GOP's shutdown of the United States is not new: it is just the ghost of the Old Confederacy given life in the present.


Learning is Eternal said...

Is that a query rhetorical? That would require truth if not; something Amurr'klan lacks in support or a visible foundation in/& it's politrix. Did I spell that right? If PS's or historians did right by their profession someone might piece together or pick apart the bootstrap myth. That the wealth of this nation & infrastructure was created by POC. The natives "leased" US land w/African contractors handling general labor and Asian subcontractors building railroads is my horrible attempt @humor. Día de la muerte is celebrated on Thanksgiving & christmas was in August. These "Flea baggers" don't want nothing out of life but the destruction of life itself. "Setting the record straight" is forfeiture.

thetruththelight said...

you should rename this site " the cowardly negro". it would be much more accurate.

Learning is Eternal said...


Give a .357 oral...

Bryan Ortez said...

so right, so right.

Black Sci-Fi said...

When it comes down to it, whites in America, both north and south, just don't want to talk about the "assumed
order" of white supremacy. The rare exceptions are web based articles (Salon, KOS, et al) that have very small audiences, or, MSNBC will give a few minutes to examine the topic between mega-coverage of anything relevant to gay America.
And yes, I'm a "bitter brother". I'm bitter because as a boomer I expected our cause, civil rights, to be a "sustained priority" in the politics of our nation
until racial prejudice was no longer relevant or tolorated. Instead, we (liberals?) fractured our "cause" strength by including the sub-topics of women's
(white) liberation and gay (white) liberation.

Clearly, the largest demographic group to advance because of the 50's & 60's Civil Rights movement is…wait for it...white women. I was recently reminded of how Fredrick Douglass was confronted with the same political treachery when some of the influential
members of the woman's movement of his era, his former allies, advocated granting the vote for "white" women at the expense of any "negros", male or female.

I often wonder why MHP over at MSNBC chooses to advocate Women's (white) Liberation topics when the reality of the AA comunity is not black patriarchy, but the reality of “forced” matriarchy. The reality is that AA women have always been "liberated" within the definition (pursuit of "human" fulfillment via unlimited
career/life choices) of the advocates or the Women's movement. The “glass ceiling” is not colorblind, or gender neutral for AA’s.

Let's face it, when it comes to working outside the home, AA women have been liberated since the first African slaves were transported to America. AA female labor was prefered, pre and post civil rights era, to AA male labor and seen as a vehicle for controlling our
political and economic development. Matriarchy was MANDATED in the AA community by the real diferences in gender based employment opportunities
"granted' to us by the majority population.

Your call for historical perspective in modern journalism rightly assumes the interests of the (right
wing) oligarchy will have its interests placed in priority. Sadly, that only leaves us smoke signals and the diffuse nebula of “special” interests competing
for eyeballs on the internet as a social media medium for truth telling.

I respect and enjoy your role in bringing clarity through historical perspective to our lives. To the extent that your work reflects "speaking truth to power", my most sincere thanks.
Yes, I'm a bitter brother. But, I'm still here and still seeking to advance "our" cause.


DanF said...

"Why Aren't There More Political Scientists and Historians On TV and Radio Talking about the Tea Party GOP's Shutdown Politics and Their Origins in the Old Confederacy?"

It's just so rude to call a racist a racist. You shut down all dialogue! /snark

Bill Moyers called the current tactics another means of secession and flat-out compared the current GOP to their CSA brethren, but that's about as close to the mainstream as I've seen. Bill doesn't have a very big audience or pack the same influence he once did. I'm sure that's a result of his unwillingness to go along to get along.

chauncey devega said...

Bill Moyers routinely tells the truth which is why he does not have a major network spot. There is also the question of style and being able to take complex ideas and to distill them to a few talking points lacking any nuance. Not easy for many and intellectually unacceptable for many others.

chauncey devega said...

Bitterness is a bitter pill that only hurts you in the long term. Do you; but do you positively and by doing good in your part of the world. Being happy, healthy, sane, and positive is one of the greatest revenges we have against injustice.

chauncey devega said...

The other issue is that what is taken as commonsense and are the core mythologies of American culture have been thoroughly deconstructed by many "experts". By definition that "expert" opinion is not going to be allowed within the approved narrative frame and public discourse.

Bryan Ortez said...

This is something where conservatives in general seem to scapegoat universities and professors. I have seen videos of them saying we have too many over-educated people who think they know better than the average American.

I don't think this is true.

It seems to be a war on education in the sense that you can't talk about certain issues unless you are educated enough to talk about them. However historians and political scientists study this stuff, it's their job. To deny them the right to express what they know on these things would be like denying a carpenter the right to use a hammer and handing him a lemon.

Learning is Eternal said...

Nobody wants to find out their "war-hero" dad didn't have no kills & was "the cook" or that the "big homie" aint gangsta but really a snitch. I recently read/listened to a lost interview w/2Pac. He said what was cut/viewers didn't see in Juice was his character Bishops' father was a prison whore. This was a major insecurity that drove his false bravado to earn street credit. The republican antagonists who pop up in your posts from time to time no different. You shatter that image (expose the lie), they fight/murder desperately to prove themselves different than their predecessors &/or associates. I can respect strong individuals who link up in common interest. I Despise cowards who can't stand alone (republicans esp.).