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Time For A New Southern Strategy

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By Cody Lyon

 

Over the past few generations or so, the deep southern states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi have engaged in a sort of pecking order amongst themselves. Georgia people sometimes claim to be more sophisticated and worldly than the folks in Alabama while Alabamians have been known to say, well, at least we’ve got Mississippi.

 

But, those little put downs are the result of a shared regional psychology that extends back over the years as the South dealt with its many curses including a sense of defeat, the horrific sins of racism, along with a shared sense of defiance and pride in the face of a nation that made no secret of what part of the country was most looked down on.

 

And, despite dramatic social change over the past few decades and a greater integration into the economic national fold, there are still reasons for southern insecurity that are evidenced through inexcusable and dramatic social ills that should bother the conscience of every American who calls themselves progressive, and there is no place those ills are more evident than Mississippi.

 

Still, during national elections, the more progressive party, the Democrats, basically write off the South as un-winnable during national elections which in turn, further fuels a sense that parts of this nation have been truly left behind.

 

It’s as if Democrats gave up on the South after the successful Southern strategy by Republican candidates who first latched onto racism and later pedaled hot button right wing social topics that played well in the Bible Belt, while the truly immoral injustices of economic, health and educational equity continued to fester in many parts of the region.

 

In truth, it’s almost sad to watch horse race pundit powered Mississippi Democratic political primary coverage as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton come calling for votes knowing full well that if the past is any indication, once November roles around, Barack and or Hillary probably won’t spend much time in Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia.

 

National Democratic leaders, inhibited by political strategy have proven lazy, almost timid in their approach to the vast swath of Southern voters who were hijacked by an empty right wing Republican social agenda. Perhaps now the time is right to repackage and aggressively sell a message that embodies the spirit of FDR, or perhaps more recently, John Edwards, a superior inclusive message that trumps the divisive, fear based tactics that have basically prayed upon deeply held beliefs while conveniently serving as political smokescreens that were used to further the economic interests of a few who end up doing more harm in Dixie than polluted dew.

 

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Cody Lyon is an Alabama native who is a freelance writer in New York City.
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