Is U. S. Politics Right Versus Left, Or, North Versus South?

When we look at the big political battles in the U. S. today, and see them as right vs left, we may be overlooking their actual origin.

There is a dominant political narrative that runs through how we self describe our history.  It is one of our country moving forward and succeeding.  We defeated other countries in wars, achieved economic dominance and are the world’s best ethnic melting pot.

This narrative, however, is not one shared by conservative white Protestants in the South.  Their’s is one of defeat after defeat.  First, it was the civil war.  Then, the civil rights movement.  Now, the election and reelection of Obama.

They do not see themselves as of “immigrant stock” with a hyphen as in “Norwegian-American” or “Italian-American”.  Though descendantd of immigrants from England, they see themselves as the original Americans.  Patriotism means preserving their own values nationwide.

Migration has moved some Northern values to the South, but some Southern ones  North.  Today the Southern version of real “Americanism” is resisting compromise with values not considered indigenous “American values”.

As social and demographic change has taken place, both the Protestant white South and Southern indigenous “American values” found also in the North are slipping in influence.  In the South the response has to been gerrymander safe House Districts.

In the North, (and the South) it is bitterness to accepting religious ideas such as acceptance of gays as equals and abortion.  The melting pot metaphor does not fit old Southern values, even when they drift north.


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4 Responses

  1. Jeffrey Eide

    According to Steven Pinker’s most recent book, The Better Angels of our Nature, he suggests there is a strong link to the Hobbsian Leviathan connection and what we see in the southern mentality. The system we can lean on, trust, and depend on when in times of crisis is the overbearing Leviathan. It also take systems of justice and honor out of personal and societal lives and gives it to an objective force.

    In short, the mentality of not depending on the government to solve disputes, solving disagreements with duels, building arms caches for the impending downfall are all symptoms of an ineffective Leviathan.

    I think when presented with this situation, many fall back on religiosity and conservative politics. At least that is what I took from it.

  2. Jinx

    Jeffery, I had never heard of a link between Hobbsian Leviathan and the south, but I can certainly see the relevance. This is not a knowledge ‘zone’ for me and I am going to have to think and research this more. Thanks! BTW, I love all the new ‘stuff’ I am learning on here!!!

  3. Brad

    I would like to see the south secede, permanently. Then the right wing Tea Party Republicans and other conservatives could have their own country with corporate personhood, fertilized egg personhood, low wages, pollution, military weapons, state-mandated Christianity, and whatever else their right wing hearts desire

    1. Jeffrey Eide

      Well, Brad, although that would doubtlessly be a wicked experiement to vindicate your political views, how could you justify to all those born and raised within that area who did not choose to be there, how could you justify the lack of education, healthcare, and general chaos that would no doubt ensue because it would be easier to throw conservatives their own land?

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