Why Do Southerners Vote Republican?

Last week I swore that if I heard this question again, I’d write about it on my blog to be able to point anyone else who had this question to when the question reared it’s head again. I’m a believer in giving the short answer before giving the long answer, so here we go:

  • In two words: Civil Rights
  • In one word: Racism

This probably isn’t shocking to a lot of you older people, but I bet it is to the younger people out there. Growing up, I always wondered why relatively poor Southerners would vote for a party that encouraged the growth and prominence of big business. It didn’t make sense. Also, I wondered why relatively wealthy Northerners would vote for a party that transferred their wealth to the poor. It was counter to what I understood about human nature. I couldn’t get a direct answer from my history book, my history teacher, or political commentary shows. It just seemed like everyone accepted that this was how it was. How strange.

But then I pieced it together. Northerners used to vote Republican and Southerners used to vote Democratic. This was the way it was from when the Republican party was formed out of other parties (including the Whigs) to support higher education, banking, railroads, industry and cities. This modernization went hand in hand with ending slavery, which they felt was in disharmony with their vision of the future. Ok, so at some point in history it made sense, people were actually voting for their interests.

It stayed this way all the way up to 1948, which was when Harry S Truman ran on a Civil Rights platform as a Democrat. He was supporting views FDR had, but FDR had some big shit go down during his presidency (Great Depression, WWII, you might have heard of it) and he didn’t have time. Then, Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat (which means a Southern Democrat who is also racist) and won a bunch of Southern votes (4 States).

These Dixiecrats were obviously too numerous to stay a 3rd party for long, so the Republicans, in a particularly shrewd move, absorbed the racists and called it a ‘Southern Strategy‘. In another shrewd move, the Republicans then absorbed the Conservative Christians into the party to combine those who were anxious about racial issues with those to were anxious about religious issues to capture the votes of rural America. They sold ‘less government’ as ‘more freedom’ to them instead of how they sold it in the past: ‘less government’ as ‘better for business’. Absolutely… Brilliant.

And that, my friends, is how a small group of the super wealthy can push their free-market agenda onto the ballots of people who shouldn’t be voting for it: by using racism and religious fanaticism to get votes. As to why the Democrats manage to get so many votes from wealthy White people? I have no idea. I bet when the Republicans came up with this idea, they figured they’d get those votes as well.



Filed under Current Events

36 responses to “Why Do Southerners Vote Republican?

  1. rob

    So, I had a startling realization at lunch the other day. Everyone that is less fortunate than I am (homeless, poor, immigrants, etc.) are only that way in an attempt to annoy me and generally make me feel bad. I ask you Hero, does that qualify me to be a Republican?

  2. Only if you feel that it’s justified to use the power of the Church to get those immigrants to vote Republican to balance out them taking away from your general livelihood.

  3. I can honestly say that if what you say is true, then this might be the first time I’ve actually “learned” something interesting from a blog. Trust me this doesn’t happen often.

  4. You know, I’m a Republican and I don’t feel at all bad about it.

    “And that, my friends, is how a small group of the super wealthy can push their free-market agenda onto the ballots of people who shouldn’t be voting for it: by using racism and religious fanaticism to get votes.”

    Oh yes, those EVIL supply side economics, and those evil rich people! HOW DARE THEY HAVE MORE MONEY THAN THE REST OF US! They should be poor, just like us! Take their money, mommy!

    Anyway, the average Republican hasn’t read Von Mises or Friedman, and knows NOTHING about the free market. That’s why you will always see these bible thumping Republicans stamp their feet about gas prices and in the same breath pretend they are against big government intervention. These Republicans believe government intervention is good for the things like school prayer, and making sure the gays can’t get married and “controlling gas prices!!!!”. Hypocrites, all of them. No better than Democrats who think the government should control every facet of our lives, in my opinion. Republicans and Democrats should just get one big tent party and call it “Big Government Authoritarian Party”; It would be a more accurate description, I believe.

    • Rob

      The richest 1 percent own 90 percent of everything, and they get 24 percent of annual income, and half of them inherited their wealth and didn’t work for it, so YES, the current distribution of wealth and income is manifestly unfair, and YES many of us want tax and economic policy to create less extreme outcomes of wealth and income. Call us socialists.

  5. They were stupid enough to make themselves poorer, but smart enough to see the obvious threat of segregation to the white population. http://www.goodoleboybumperstickers.com

  6. ry420guy

    Rigoberto, you haven’t addressed the main point of this post. Your apathy over the poor is not on trial here. More relevant is your hatred of minorities.

  7. Kasey

    “Democrats manage to get so many votes from wealthy White people” because of, say it with me here, “lifestyle choices.” No wealthy person — white, black or latino — likes to be told they can’t hire hookers, do coke, or both at the same time. They certainly don’t like spending time in jail for it. Therefore, they’ll take the guys who aren’t all about “family values.”

  8. Frankie

    Either way you Americans are tightasses.

    Rigoberto says it: “Big Government Authoritarian Party”. But even Rigoberto is a tightass.

  9. ry420guy…I hope you are being facetious, because I don’t know very many WASP’s named “Rigoberto”.

  10. And Frankie…I think all Americans should have the right to do lines of coke off of a hooker’s ass.

  11. T.

    Well, I’m black and I’m pretty conservative. In fact, I can’t stand the Republicans because to me they’re too liberal. I guess I hate minorities too.

    Seriously though, you want to know why Southerners vote Republican? Because they HATE big city liberals. They find them to be condescending, smug and passive-aggressive PC prigs. They find snarky sarcasm from a man to be passive-aggressive and beta as hell, and a Stephen Colbert type is better suited for punching in the face than holding a conversation with. Plus they realize that big city liberals don’t like or respect them anymore than Republicans do. They spend all their time mocking Southerners as stupid, bigoted backwards hicks and making them the butt of jokes, then suddenly shamelessly pander to them in election years by using class warfare, as if they’re so stupid they’re actually going to forget how the liberals treat Southerners during the 47 months there are no presidential elections.

    Look at movies and TV shows made my Northern liberals and how Southerners and small towners are treated in them. Then ask yourself again why Southerners don’t want to vote liberal.

  12. VK, everybody’s version of history has some bias. I can say that this post presents facts and draws what is a very reasonable conclusion in my eyes. The fact a lot of the remnants of these events (Southern Strategy) are obscured by the media make these facts confusingly hard to find.

    T, that could be an explanation of why Southerners continue to vote Republican, but not why they started voting Republican in the first place. Unless they consider Civil Rights as being shoved down their throats by big city liberals. Oh wait…

  13. Kyle

    Middle and upper class white folks in the North are liberal because they aren’t the top alphas and still desperately need to compete for status. Straight success doesn’t do it. There is always someone at work above them, even if they have good jobs. Always a neighbor with a more expensive car or boat or a kitchen that was remodeled more recently. It’s really, really damn hard to get all the way to the top of the pyramid of financial success, so the white northern liberal picks a different status game to play–the posturing of altruism. They’re going to care more than you. They’re going to sell their perfectly good older car to buy a new hybrid, because even though the environment would be better off without the sizable carbon footprint it takes to produce any new car, hybrids included (think how much energy is expended producing and transporting the raw materials needed), the hybrid is status signaling in the I-care-more-than-you-do game. They’ll oppose school vouchers because the free market is evil, meanwhile the funding for their suburban schools is completely disconnected from the schools the poor they claim to care about actually attend, etc. They’re pissed they’ve lost the status game of wealth because in America there is no ceiling for the top few, so they create a new status game where they lash out in jealousy against those that have beaten them.

    • jason

      This is typical of fox style neocon psychobabel, which doesn’t mean it’s never true, it might be for some “betas” and then there might be some alphas and “betas” that vote with their heart or wallet or something other than their wounded pride. Whats typical of the new right is this inverting of facts to suit your agenda. Hybrids weren’t created to supply betas with a sense of moral superiority. When I hear this paranoid world view where the jealous, weak, passive, and generally anti-alpha sissy libs get over intellectualized by the rugged, junkyard dogs of the right I wonder, do they protest too much? The supposed motivating principle behind white northern liberalism is really just proof that there is something mentally and morally wrong with them, not in spite of but because of their good deeds. Anyone can tear down anything they want with the fox formula since its just judging your enemy in the worst possible light, facts be damned and defining everything else as other, which holds sway in the south for historical reasons. The fact is that the south became a full fledged republican bloc when Nixon ran with an updated version of the southern strategy. This new plan called for the encouragement of black voting in the south, not because they would vote for Nixon, but because they would scare the hell out of poor white southerners, driving them to the polling stations in record numbers. Does the idea of using the fear of what will happen if those other Americans get their way sound familiar? Of course it backfired the way evil plans always do alienating blacks for generations which secured the presidency for every democratic president that’s been elected since. There are lots of factors that go into the rationale of any group that votes against their own self interest,(the least of which must be described here by Kyle) and at the same time if you aren’t voting against some of your own interest every time you vote you’re probably not thinking enough. I don’t know the motivation of the white northern liberal, I’m a white 43 year old male that’s lived in Tennessee for my entire life and I just try to do what I think is right and I don’t believe that people vote against their own interests out of spite.

    • Rickey Hughey

      I bet, I can safely say that you are not on that list.

  14. Frankie

    Kyle’s contribution makes sense.

    I add: anyone who takes politics seriously, is submitting him-/herself to all others and is thereby asking for a life led in fear.

  15. Sami

    I have a friend who is a smart and educated but he still votes republican. He is not religious so it took me a long time to figure out why he does so. After some thinking I sense that he affiliates himself with the white working class male even though he is an engineer and since they vote republican then so does the same. I also think he so strongly affiliates himself as being white that he hates to see any other race get special treatment, like blacks and hispanics. Though I do think the welfare system should be modified I dont necessarily see anything wrong with giving to the poor. In fact I think generosity is a good virtue to have. Poor white males dont seem to care for this and have the mentality that if you were a real man you wouldnt need or ask for help. I do not doubt that some or many people abuse our welfare system but if it saves 1 in 10 lives and doesnt really cost us that much relative to all the other stuff the government wastes money on, then its still good to do. I guess to some it up white males in this country are greedy and they dont want to help any people whom they perceive as taking money from them no matter how much it is. What is so stupid is that voting republican takes even more money from white working class people, especially when the open the borders up for cheap labor and or move another factory over seas.

    (and by the way even though republicans say the want border patrol, they really dont. Its just another trick to get poor white votes. Its cheap labor to work in the factories that are still left here.)

  16. Mark

    I think some poor whites even know this. So they would rather have less money but give no help to other people, than have more money and give some help to others. Its total selfishness, greed, and general hatred for other people.

    Actually if they were eligible to get a hand out they would take it too. They act all self righteous now, but that would change if they got some money too. That’s why all the white people are in favor of Huckabee’s Sales Tax. Its basically welfare for the poor but regardless of race because all poor people would qualify for a full prebate while the rest of us get stuck paying the taxes. So all these people that said they would never take a hand out are full of it. And the problem with this form of welfare is that it can be easily squandered on frivolous stuff like rims, chew, cigarettes, drugs…. At least with our current welfare system they get free health care, food stamps, subsidized living…things that actually better their lives and society as a whole.

  17. Carlos

    Republicans do not represent self-reliance. This is a myth.

  18. Great post.

    “As to why the Democrats manage to get so many votes from wealthy White people?”

    A lot of reasons.

    Lack of greediness.
    Realizing you cannot push the poor to far

    – MPM

    • Frannie

      I agree with you 100% Manifesto. Now everyone is worried about keeping up with the Jones’. I am voting Democrat because I have heard more lies and greed come out of the Republican party than I have the Democrats. The poor and unfortunate should be helped. Not all of them are dopers but some are ignorant. I live in the south. I see ones who went to school and drop out as soon as possible because they could not learn. that is because they came from an ignorant family who could care less if they are educated.
      But, I have seen more rise up from their raising and become wealthy and intelligent because they wanted it.
      There are these kinds of folks all over the US but I think some people don’t want any better for themselves.

  19. I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

  20. Madison Faye

    Okay so, I’m getting confused here cause half these people have no clue what they’re talking about…. And even though i learned nothing from your blog, i think I might just have figured out why we as southerners vote republican…from my own ideas. Anyway at least some people learned from it, but remember, these are opinions guys, ONE person’s thinking. Cause I can tell ya right now that not one of you have the right thinking of why a southern person votes Republican.

  21. peaceout891@gmail.com

    I’m white, definitely not rich, and most certainly not racist, but I am Conservative. I believe in my God and my guns! People really need to stop with the “race card”. Just because I don’t agree with someone politically who happens to be a minority, does not mean I am a racist. I believe all people deserve fair treatment no matter what race.

  22. My little conclusion is that nearly all Republicans are Racists and Religious Fanatics living in an era of days gone bye.

  23. Gene Hardeman

    You seem more into labeling and name calling, hiding under the pretense of asking a question (which you answer in the second sentence). Good job making a point. I’ve seen political neophytes present a better argument. But an argument wasn’t the purpose of you post now was it?

  24. Robi Cohn

    As a Canadian I am saddened by the level of stupidity and intolerance in so many Americans. I can pick out every single Republican who has commented here ( yes, I have super powers, too). I wish the Republicans who will still publicly admit to believing that President Obama is a Muslim and knew beforehand of the 9/11 bombings, would buy a brain for themselves and stop spewing the garbage being fed to them. You are not the greatest country in the world; deal with it. Get your heads out of your asses and think about what you can do to make it the greatest country in the world.
    And by the way, I really enjoyed this blog post. Good job!

  25. caaprgirl

    I am a white, southern, female, professional. I voted republican and these are my reasons. I agree that both dems and repubs have spoken incorrectly too many times to even count, but I believe more in repubs than dems.
    I believe that rich people give us– the middle class, jobs, so if they will employee more people— great!!! I have heard several times that rich just get richer. Well in my opinion, they took the risk that I wasn’t willing to take–then fine, go for it. I don’t gamble because I believe I work too hard to make my money, and I don’t want to lose my money. I save my money and then I invest in something. As far as taxes, I would rather see a flat tax than all the other mess rep and dems come up with. That way EVERYONE contributes to make this country better including the rich.

    I don’t believe that I want the government to control me. Meaning, I am not giving up my guns if I had them. I have my right to bear arms and as a female that was almost attacked when I was in high school by three men,,,if I had a gun then, I might have shot them. If someone comes into my home, I would protect my family and well as myself. I have that right.

    I believe that we need to have a strong military because if we don’t, we are opening ourselves up to attacks from other countries.

    I believe that when I have worked as hard as I have, I should be able to leave my estate to my family without being taxed again. I have already paid taxes. It should be transferred to my heirs tax free. $1million will not be hard to reach when you count your home, 401k, cars, jewlery, furniture, life insurance, and any other invesments that will increase my assets. Over $1 Million in assets next year 2013 will be possibly taxed at 55% as a death tax. SORRY, I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT AT ALL. I have a 5 year old and my life insurance puts me over that limit–no it will not transfer tax free if I am the owner of the policy. I have to protect my son’s future and not leave him depending on someone or the government. Am I not being responsible for my family?

    I believe in pro choice which is democrat…ok on that.

    I believe in the death penalty. I truly believe that someone should pay with his life if he took someone else away by his hands. I believe if we punished inmates more and made prisons less desirable, then convicts would not want to risk going back to jail.

    I do not believe in giving people welfare, wic, disablity that don’t need it. Too many people are on these programs and i believe that we as Americans should start reporting abuse for this. We all see it. I went to the grocery store and a young lady with her nails done, nice hair, nice clothes, decent car (not a junker), paid with food stamp card. That should not be the case AT ALL.

    I do not believe that people are entitled to a job. They need to work for it. I have had people that have worked for me and there are some that want to work and some that don’t. I work till 8 and 9p’m, and I am up at 5am getting prepared for the day. I am trying to get ahead right now with my new job. The person like my secretary who comes in at exactly 8am and leaves at 4:30 and never works a weekend,,,,does she deserve to make the same as me? No, I really dont think so. I am making the sacrifice.

    Last the unemployment rate is wrong. It does not include self employed people. No you cannot pay into unemployment like social security. So if your business goes belly up, guess what, no one is going to help you. Oh yes, by the way, a self employed person pays all of the social security taxes instead of the 1/2 that typical employees pay b/c the employer pays the other 1/2.

    So before you think people from the south are dumb, ignorant, bible thumpers. Think again. I just believe that a person who stays at home in the bed, not working is not entitled to help when they won’t help themselves. We need to stop wasting money in the government and make more people accountable.

    I believe that every politician and their appointees MUST have a credit score of 700 and above, no NSF’S from the bank, and their taxes MUST be paid. This needs to be a basic criteria for a person to be in office. If they do not, then they CANNOT run. If they cannot manage their money, then why do I believe that they can manage my money??? (government budget). I bet 1/2 of the politicians would be ousted right out.

    I also DO NOT BELIEVE that government employees should have a different healthcare system than the rest of us. If Obama is going to enforce OBAMACARE, then he needs to put ALL politicians on it. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Yep a southern saying.

  26. Thank you for putting this into historical perspective for me. This is a question I’ve long asked without bothering to really research it.
    I’m thinking the reason so many middle-class (or ‘wealthy’ as you say) white Northerners typically vote Democratic is because they tend to be classically educated and care about human-rights type things like self-expression, equality, justice, and so on. They are too smart to be hoodwinked by matters of religion (because they all believe in the separation of church and state), and they pride themselves on their lack of racism. I’m a deep-south Southerner who has been living in the North now for 12 years and my Southern family has always been die-hard Republican–and they literally get filled with anger and hatred anytime we talk politics (which I make sure isn’t often), and racism does seem to be a motivator. Otherwise, these are nice people, middle class, hard-working, all of those things that SHOULD make them vote Democrat. The one Democratic hold-out in my family (other than me) is my grandfather–we are literally the only two in our large family who vote Democratic. He’s slightly racist too, but he ultimately believes in the working man and families, and he somehow manages to see through the shenanigans of the religious right.

  27. Willy Luciano

    You sir, have written the most biased article,I have ever read. And I’m terrible at identifying that sorta thing. first off, republicans allow the start of small business to be a lot easier. I know because I run a garage. I feel like Obama is literally trying to make me go bankrupt. he’s planing on raising minimum wage? WHAT, if he does I’m closing down and working at Walmart because as is that 17 yr old make about 2 dollars,less an hour than I do. So what’s my incentive to keep running a garage that deals with .25 million dollars in and out when I can make the same money pointing 60 yr olds toward the TVs. You people just keep sounding dumber and dumber to me. This is America, it’s supposed to be equal opportunity, not equal results. You hate on big business because you’re incapable of it. Just face it, bill gates, who reinvented the world, deserves more money than you, who maybe came up with a killer grilled cheese that one time.

  28. Willy Luciano

    Oh, and ALL republicans are racist? Whos labeling now. why do wight middleclass northerners vote democrat? Because they’re in a union, that’s how they’re middleclass to begin with. Now, I’m not ultra republican like unions are nice I guess.

  29. oregon123

    there is another thing going on with poor people…

    it is called the pecking order – now, who hates the bottom of the order the most? – the second from the bottom

    so you will have a white guy who works labor for a buck over min wage hating on welfare folks

    and for wealthy northerners: they are educated and they know that the country needs to be kind for their non-wealthy neighbors and extended family members – that is my best guess

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