January 27, 2004

The big question

Is John Kerry right? Can Democrats win the White House without the South?

Sure. In fact, with the exception of Florida and maybe a border state or two, that's precisely what our nominee will try to do.

But with all due respect to Sen. Kerry, that's really not the right question.

The important question is this: Can Democrats win the White House without forcing George W. Bush to spend at least some time and resources protecting his Southern base? Can we win if the Bush campaign rightly feels free to pour every penny of its $200 million war chest into the handful of battleground states that will actually decide this election -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, et al.?

And the answer to that question is no.

Just another thought for New Hampshire voters to take with them today as they trudge through the ice and snow to do their bit for democracy....

POSTSCRIPT: It's been almost half a century since the Democratic party has elected a president without a Southern accent. Is that just an electoral fluke? Or does it tell us something important about what it takes for Democrats to win national elections? You make the call.

Posted by Jack O'Toole on January 27, 2004 03:11 AM

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The Dems' Southern Strategy
Excerpt: Since John Kerry's comment at Dartmouth that the Democrats don't need the South to win, there's been a good deal of virtual ink spilled on the question of what exactly the party's Southern strategy should be. Timothy Noah of Slate
Weblog: Left Center Left
Tracked: February 2, 2004 12:07 PM

The South has an influence in national politics that is way out of proportion to its population. I think that the reason, frankly, is intimidation. The gun-toting, tobacco-chewing good ol' boys have everyone feeling a bit wussy.

Democratic presidential candidates always seem to want to find a way to reconcile this primitive, yet undeniably appealing, masculinity with a more enlightened outlook. These efforts usually fail, because ultimately the true Southern approach involves rejecting enlightenment. Consider, for example, the extent to which the scientifically well-founded theory of evolution is rejected in the South.

Democrats and others who look outside the South for a center of political gravity, but who don't wish to cut the South out of the nation outright, should read the works of John Gray, who sees the future of liberalism in promoting a "modus vivendi" among various cultures which exist within geographical boundaries.

We shouldn't emulate the South, but we do need a modus vivendi. Maybe John Edwards is the man who can do it, but it shouldn't *have* to be a Southerner.

Posted by: Chloe on January 28, 2004 08:22 PM