Okay here's Brad's take. Following the Civil War, i.e. reconstruction, the south was all totally controlled by the democrats. After all Lincoln was a republican. The republicans stood for strong federalism at that time, and the democrats stood for states rights. It was just a political continuation of the war. Over the next 100 years the democrats of the south built, grew, and perfected institutional racism, which has at its core the Jim Crow laws. Blacks couldn't legally get loans, buy good land, go to good schools, restaurants, etc. They could hardly even leave black town except to go into white town and work for slave wages. Black town mostly wasn't provided with things like sewer service or electricity even though they were taxed.

When elections were near, a random black was hanged in damn near every county as a warning not to go to the polls to vote. All of this was orchestrated by the southern democrats otherwise known as dixiecrats. This caused a lot of political tension with the south's traditional enemy, New England.

Along comes LBJ, a southerner. He joined hands with the New Englanders to pass the Civil Rights Act, saying something like "I believe we (democrats) have just lost the south for a generation" or words to that effect. He was right. It left the dixiecrats of the south without a political party affiliation. So Nixon developed "The Southern Strategy" which was for the republican party to court the southern vote with "dog whistle" phrases indicating sympathy with the racist cause. The phrase "states rights" came to mean support for the Jim Crow laws. The dixiecrats joined the republican party en masse in 1968. Reagan followed up the southern strategy by promoting anti-federalism. Our two major political parties had officially switched roles.

Looking deeper, what we are seeing is the echo of the Great Awakening of the 1830's which saw disenfranchised anti-enlightenment religious zealots fleeing London for South Carolina. Their charismatic cults grew and spread across the south by promoting "gospel prosperity" which refers to the fact that the sudden economic growth from free land (taken from Indians) and free labor (from Africa) were mistaken for god's special favor. From 1830 until 1865 the Southern Methodist newspaper grew into the largest circulation of any paper in the world. Every issue (still libraried and available) had front page articles quoting the Bible in support of slavery. The Southern Baptist's newspaper did the same. During that same time period the Methodists of New England split off and formed their own conference, and re-printed the Bible replacing the word "slave" with "servant" where ever it occurs, which creates some rather awkward sentences.

Like any historical story, you can always take another step backward to see how the previous generation set it up. The religious wars of Europe begat the Great Awakening. The Protestant Revolt gave rise to the religious wars, and so on.

People who don't see the connection between religion and politics understand neither. Anyway that's my take.

Carpe Noctem.

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Comment by matt.clerke on September 20, 2015 at 6:53pm

An interesting take. I hate how politicizing terms and phrases mean something they aren't.. like states rights. I'm all for smaller, local governance since it's easy to see that people in Washington might be somewhat removed from people in Louisiana. So states rights to govern themselves as much as possible sounds pretty damn good to me.

Comment by SteveInCO on September 20, 2015 at 8:35pm

It's a package deal, Matt.  Some people certainly do use "States Rights" to mask their desire for Jim Crow legislation; others just believe in decentralized government (within limits; no state has a right to step on its citizens' rights).  But by lumping ALL such people together and implying the ONLY reason to support "States Rights," someone manages the neat trick of discrediting everyone who believes in decentralized government.

Comment by Unseen on September 21, 2015 at 1:33am

By deferring a lot of governance to state and local governments, the Founding Fathers were wise. Like anything else, it can be abused. Or used in ways not everyone will agree with. 

Comment by SteveInCO on September 21, 2015 at 1:51am

@Unseen, I'm specifically hacked off about this issue because people who take one side of it are presumptively being judged to be doing so for racist motives.  Just as many people who oppose Obama are accused of doing so simply because of racism, when their real disagreement is with his policies.

This writeup seems to be implying that the only reason to oppose recent policies pushed by the Democratic party--or to be a Republican, in the South is...a desire to bash blacks.  That is hideous stereotyping no one on the left would tolerate if it were being done TO any member of certain groups.

Comment by Brad Snowder on September 21, 2015 at 4:02pm

Postings on this site are cumbersome to update, because to the delayed moderation. On my personal blog I tend to tweak it a few times. For instance I added this caveat: "This is an over-simplified assessment of course because the parties are each an amalgamation of movements and interests. But I’m purposely focusing on the cultivation of institutional racism."

Comment by Unseen on September 21, 2015 at 5:10pm

I'm not sure why blog comments require moderator approval but forum comments don't. Perhaps God knows, or perhaps it's built into the software. If there's a switch to turn this feature off, my opinion would be to switch it off.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on September 21, 2015 at 7:52pm

Point noted, I will check this out for you.

Comment by Freethinker784 on September 21, 2015 at 10:39pm

As far as States Rights  are  concerned, some laws need to be limited  to the state, while others must be Federal.......I think Gun Control is a great example of a State being in control , since guns are a way of life for the South and West....Whereas the Northeast and MidAtlantic  states are more metropolitan and may prefer strict gun laws.....Marriage laws though need to be federal, since people in the US are quite  transient, and could cause a problem for some ,as in Same Sex marriage.....Abortion laws need to be Federal as well for the same reason.....This is just my opinion...

Comment by _Robert_ on September 22, 2015 at 7:49pm

The emerging industrial North finally replaces it's slaves with cheap immigrant labor (after a century of slavery) and endeavors to destroy the rural South's economy with the stroke of a pen. Then the North abandons the post war reconstruction and drops the ball early as many poor black sharecroppers head North to escape the extreme poverty all throughout the South....where they are hated by the very offspring of the immigrant laborers.

"I also don't believe in drugs.  I don't want it near schools - I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people - the colored. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls."  The Godfather..

Archie Bunker is alive and well and is shooting black kids in the street..

"Like any historical story, you can always take another step backward to see how the previous generation set it up."

No, sorry you can't take a step backward and always land in the same footstep. The North institutionalized racism in it's powerful corporations, unions, divided neighborhoods...and the South in it's lame local governments. Either way it's racism and painting an entire region is just.....well very racist.

Comment by Unseen on September 22, 2015 at 8:56pm

No, sorry you can't take a step backward and always land in the same footstep.

The past is a corpse, the passive victim of anyone with an ideology they can project on it. 

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