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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why do Poor White Voters Vote Against Themselves?

1898 caption from the Raleigh News & Observer - annotated by the author

Why do poor, rural, usually uneducated Southern white voters always vote against their own interests? Why did they choose a deplorable human being and alleged traitor like Trump to be their champion? This had to be an emotional reaction and it had to be because they hate Democrats. That is the ONLY reason. Otherwise, they'd vote against repealing healthcare that they desperately need. They'd vote against corporate control of our entire economy that's oppressing them. They'd vote against inequality. They'd be pro-labor (usually them). They'd be for raising the minimum wage, which is usually all they get. If they did not fervently hate Democrats as much as they do, they would vote for the things that Democrats usually represent and have won for them since FDR in the 1930s - things that Republicans now despise with a passion.

Would you be surprised to find that the most conservative party ever in America were Southern Democrats? But, they no longer exist. When did that change? What did the Democratic Party do that made these Southern conservatives want to cast their party away forever? What eats at these poor white voters? 

Two things: the first happened in July 1964 when a Democratic president from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson, signed the Civil Rights Act. Even LBJ knew that this act would change forever the political make-up of America. He told Bill Moyers immediately afterward, "We just gave the South to the Republicans," because he knew that the then Southern Democrats would not abide this betrayal of white-supremacy. Just ask your Southern neighbors how they feel about Johnson. Do they even know why they hate him?

Southern Democrats immediately switched to Republican after 1964 (see maps below). Matched with this first reason, LBJ also understood the mindset of the defeated Southern voter (defeated because of the old Civil War) - he said that "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." 

The solution for the seemingly unsolvable race problem since 1896 was segregation (an avoidance of the problem) and resulted from a fear of "Negro Rule" (see the cartoon from 1898)  - the separation of white and black in ALL areas - even drinking fountains, bathrooms (what is it with these people and bathrooms!?), and sidewalks! But the Civil Rights Act changed everything. Everyone now had to learn to exist together. This was extremely difficult and resulted in the destruction of a whole political party - the conservatively-rabid Southern Democrat. 

The second reason destroyed the allusion of LBJ's last quote: it was the untenable and unconscionable election of the Democrat Barack Obama as president - the dreaded NEGRO RULE, the straw that broke the camel's back - the greatest fear of the Southerner was realized. Even worse - from an abomination of white blood perverted with African. As to this subtle nuance, Toni Morrison wrote:
"William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder." 
All white men were forced to look UP to a black president that they could NOT ignore - they couldn't pick Obama's pockets! Making matters worse, this abomination was eloquent and intelligent - a slap in the face to their delusions, deified by their Confederate ancestors who spilled their blood to prevent the Negro from rising! 

Yes... both are racist reasons. It is, has been, and for many decades still to come - racism, pure and simple - a deeply-rooted cultural pattern of "white privilege" now in danger of being eradicated - both demographically and culturally. As Toni Morrison explains:
And it is for these reasons — the imminent “collapse of white privilege,” as Morrison calls it — “that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.”
This, alone, trumped patriotism (to the United States at any rate) and explains why former Southern Democrats and their poor rural brethren across the states vote against their own best interests. They would take arms if they have to, as they did in 1861, when the Confederacy sided with the British to destroy the United States. They would rather die than see Democrats ever rule again - especially after Barack Obama! Russia would make an excellent partner in that endeavor... as the British did for the Confederacy...

Trump's  voters will never admit to us or anyone that THIS is the reason why most of them voted for him. But, it is. 


Interestingly enough, in my book, Quest for Blackbeard, I explain the meaning of Charles Johnson's quote about a faraway America and how radical it had become, treating "wickedness" as "Gallantry," resembling Toni Morrison's quote above and the reaction of white male dominance of which she spoke. Johnson's book, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, was about America's infestations with pirates, a rather conservative phenomenon, as I explain. You can see where these pirates went after the 18th century, can't you?

 "... a masterpiece about the history of the South... While researching the origins of Blackbeard, Brooks has delved deep into the politics, family connections, worldly influences, sources of slavery, the connection between the Caribbean Sea and Virginia and North Carolina, and much more ... I am learning much about my own ancestry and origins and how the South came to be."  ~ V. Sumner
"This is an excellent history of piracy in general, as well as of Blackbeard the Pirate. The best part of it is that the author does not make copious use of Charles Johnson's questionable book, A General History. He relies instead on primary sources and he cites each one meticulously. The general theme of the book follows the world in which piracy began, but specifically, Edward Thache in that world. The author has discovered quite a bit about Blackbeard and that information dispels many myths that have survived the centuries. There is also a definite comparison of the politics in the West Indies with that of its ideological descendant, the United States. The book ends quickly, however, with the death of Blackbeard - but, it also ended the period of piracy that the author alludes to as having been the era of the gentlemen pirates from Jamaica and Bermuda. Thache was one of these pirates from Jamaica and his family history is explored in depth. Other pirates are also covered in detail. This book is remarkable in its different approach and refreshing writing style. Still, it's history and can be complicated at times. Still, I very much enjoyed reading it!" ~ J. Grandl