Assessing the modern left and the Democratic Party during this campaign season shows they hate the South; they think the Southern white male represents everything that is wrong with this country. As a proud son of the South, it makes it difficult for me to support the Democrats, despite loathing Donald Trump, because they hate our community, our families, our culture, our way of life, and our beliefs. One can see this easily by how they label all Trump supporters as ignorant, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic without understanding why Southerners believe what they do.
Liberals have consistently shown complete ignorance in the political thought of the South and antipathy towards Southerners without realizing that we are formed more by our history than other parts of the country. The nature of Southern politics goes back to Thomas Jefferson and John Randolph of Roanoke, both of whom distrusted centralized authority and believed in states’ rights. They wanted an agrarian republic that had communitarian values rather than industrialization and radical individualism. This is why Andrew Jackson’s policies of expanding voting rights and anti-banking actions resonated with Southerners so much. Jacksonian democracy sought to help the poor and working classes of the South. These agrarian, communitarian, and decentralized beliefs continued for some time.
Democrat William Jennings Bryan won the South all three times he ran for president with his populist economics and anti-imperialism. In fact, the South didn’t fully turn Republican till 2000, and even Tennessee’s General Assembly didn’t become consistently Republican till 2005 because the Democrats used to represent the working class. Jacksonian democracy, agrarian principles, communitarianism, social institutions, federalism, subsidiarity, Whig teleology, republicanism, religion, and the nature of ordered liberty have always influenced Southern politics, something liberals refuse to acknowledge. They believe racism and bigotry are the only influences on our politics.
In many ways the South is the most conservative part of the country, especially when we’re talking about how traditional the region is and how religious we are. Liberals have a difficult time understanding how religious people function, and they claim our support for religious liberty, particularly over the gay marriage/wedding cake and contraception issues, are due to homophobia and sexism. Something they may have missed, though, is that the evangelical Christian belief in religious liberty goes back to the early years of the republic. In fact, it was Jefferson writing to the Danbury Baptists in 1803 that gave us the phrase “separation of church and state.” Religious liberty has mattered to evangelical Christians for centuries.
Liberals also refuse to admit the negative consequences that immigration from Mexico and Latin America can have for the working class. Immigration can have a downward pressure on wages, harming the poor and working class in the country, and can cause actual cultural conflict. And for those liberals who do not think culture and language matter, they should look at the histories of Canada, Belgium, and Pakistan to see how different languages have directly led to violent conflict. Instead liberals just claim any opposition to immigration must be rooted in racism.
Then there are the other aspects to Southern culture that make liberals livid. Our rejection of sybaritic and voluptuary attitudes because we reject moral relativism makes us seem backwards and regressive to them. They can’t understand our honor-shame culture (as one should never feel guilty about anything. Right and wrong can’t exist because truth is relative). Then there is the left’s pusillanimous and effete reaction to our gun culture. Just look at how these Buzzfeed millennial leftists deal with shooting a gun for the first time (here and here). They become apoplectic and hysteric at just shooting them!
The South does have racial issues and a tainted past. The region also significantly contributed to America’s original sin of slavery and its malignant progeny, segregation. This cannot be denied and must be remembered so that we can learn, not hide, from our past transgressions. However, there is a confluence of history and ideas by which Southerners form our opinions devoid of racial animosity. Liberals hypocritically refuse to offer understanding and tolerance to Southerners because they are incapable of acknowledging the better qualities of those with whom they disagree.
Until liberals and the Democrats stop hating the South and Southerners, it will be incredibly difficult, if not nigh impossible, for us to ever vote for them despite the abhorrence of the GOP’s current candidate. Something they should keep in mind next time they make a joke about the South.