Monday, November 19, 2012

"It's tough being a Southern liberal."

Karen L. Cox, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, had an op-ed piece in The New York Times a couple of days ago that caught my attention. She had me with her first sentence: "It's tough being a Southern liberal."  As a Southern liberal who has lived most of her life surrounded, not to say overwhelmed, by a multitude of rabid conservatives, I know the truth of that sentence only too well.

Cox was discussing the recent election results, of course, but she had an interesting point to make - a point that I had not seen made anywhere else.

Many pundits analyzing the election have made much of the fact that although President Obama won the country, Romney won the former slave-holding states of the Confederacy, except for Virginia and Florida. In doing this, they opine that this section of the country is very different from the rest of the nation. Professor Cox reveals that her analysis proves just the opposite - that, in fact, the South very much followed the trend in the rest of the nation.

She states that throughout the South, voters in many urban areas gave President Obama a majority of their votes, just as voters in urban areas in other parts of the country did. In particular, she mentions that "voters in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., and even Jackson, Miss., gave Mr. Obama substantial majorities, not because they are out of step with the rest of the country but because they are part of the same urban-rural divide that drives voting everywhere. "

She might also have mentioned Houston, Texas. The monster city just thirty miles from my doorstep, and indeed its county of Harris, gave President Obama a clear majority of votes. Meanwhile, here in Montgomery County and in many of the more rural counties adjacent to Harris, the split was more like 80/20 for Romney. Again, my blue vote was drowned in a sea of red.

I find this very interesting though and heartening for the future prospects for liberalism/progressivism in the South. As the demographics change and as the population becomes more urbanized and less wedded to and weighed down by the past, I think it is very likely that we may see that sea of red turn purple, and finally blue. I would love to be around to experience that and to feel what it's like to be in the majority among my neighbors!


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