A critique of “Southern Politics”

“Obama’s Black and Romney’s white. That’s all I need to know!”

That’s something I heard the other day from a guy in his early 20s. He was ignorant, uneducated, and an unpleasant attitude. When I questioned him about what he said he questioned my “Southern-ness”. Am I less Southern for carrying a more-educated opinion? Am I less Southern for dealing with the facts instead of bigotry? Of course not. I even suggested that a “real” Southern man is a “refined gentleman” – not an ignorant redneck.

So what does it mean to be a Southern Man and where is this obligation to vote Republican at any cost coming from? The answer to that is more complicated than one might think. There are a lot of ideas floating around and depending on who you ask – you will get different, very different, responses.

I hadn’t thought about my own ideas of what it means to be a Southern Man until recently. I was born, raised, and educated in the South, but my ideas and principals may very greatly from someone else with the same history.

I admit – being Southern does come with a certain amount of cultural phenomena. For example, the stereotypes about going out of our way to open doors for women, making eye contact and smiling to strangers on the street, our love affair with sweet tea and traditional southern cooking, and a certain amount of “countriness” certainly exists. Those are things I love about the South though.

What I hate is this illogical feeling of obligation many Southerns feel to the Republican party.

Southern Conservatism
What bothers is the Southern man’s apparent obligation toward an established “conservative” status-quo. What bothers me more is that most people have no idea what being conservative really is. Is being conservative advocating war, hating gays, outlawing abortion, being religious, or something else? It seems most of us have no gauge for ourselves, but rather take our cues from the “party leaders” that tell us what we should be doing.

Take my father-in-law for instance. He is without doubt a good man; however, he is among the worst when it comes to developing his political opinions based on Rush Limbaugh telling him so. Why do Southern men feel so obliged to follow party leaders even when their viewpoints are so obviously coated in hatred, prejudice, and ignorance? Where is their ability and desire to think critically?

For example, when George Bush passed the patriot act which grossly violated our privacy most Republicans supported it whole-heartily even though it was a gross expansion of Government powers. Isn’t this the opposite of the limited Government ideals conservatives claim to support? The lack of consistency is what I have a problem with, especially when lack of consistency becomes lies.

Generally, if you oppose the war “southerners” will argue with you. If you admit America should take any responsibility for having enemies, people say you are blaming America. If you support gay rights, aren’t religious, and think the life of an American is no more important than any other human life you are a liberal and a radical. Sure this phenomena exists outside the South, but here I think it’s magnified.

The Party
I have mentioned before that Party politics in the south are crooked and inconsistent with a true conservative message. Instead the “party” convinces us that we should align ourselves with a certain socially accepted moral code, a demand to keep the rich richer, to give the Government more power for our “protection”, and to use a book of peace to promote hatred and bigotry.

The worst thing is that if you are in the Republican party you are asked to do what’s right for the Party instead of what’s right for the people. Good men are ignored, great ideas are swept under the rug, and a few good ole’ boys who have all the power want to keep everything the same so as long as it continues to benefit them. We are to be good little slaves and stay in line. Everyone else is fired up and too busy hating liberals to realize they are being screwed by their own “team”.

Real Conservatism
Real conservatism, in my opinion, isn’t about following the party at any cost. It’s about engaging in thoughtful discussions, having an open mind, and educating yourself. It’s about maintaining and promoting the power of the people. It’s about demanding the Government be a steward of the people, not the other way around. It’s about upholding principals of personal and social responsibility and demanding the same from others. It’s about upholding natural rights, property rights, and liberty. That’s where the conservative movement should be going and those are the leaders we should be following.

11 thoughts on “A critique of “Southern Politics”

  1. Rattlesnake

    That racist attitude is disgusting, and I really hope that guy’s attitude is limited to him and a few other idiots. And I really hope the vast majority of Southerners would find his attitude appalling. I completely agree that conservatism doesn’t necessarily require Christianity or religious faith at all. And it certainly isn’t about bigotry or intolerance; it is about, among other things, judging people based on their character and actions. Racist beliefs are anathema to real conservatism, and I assume that racist guy would vote for the Democrat if the race was between Herman Cain and Bill Clinton or some other white Democrat.

    Regarding your final paragraph, I agree that that is what real conservatism is, although I assume I would come to a different conclusion than you on what real conservative policy would be.

    1. Atticus Finch

      Certainly not all southerners are racist, not even close. That’s just what sparked the idea for this post.

      As far as what real conservative policy would be…I think you are a little more opposed to Government than me, but I certainly uphold the ideas of natural law, individual liberty, limited Government, fiscal responsibility and the like. So while our ideas of policy may differ – I think they would be similar in nature. I do find that Government and even government programs have their place – there are just too many of them now and too many people abuse them.

      1. Rattlesnake

        Of course not all southerners are racists, but I’ve never been anywhere near the South, so I really have no idea what the culture is like beyond how I’ve seen it represented. My guess would be that the vast majority of southerners are not racist in the least, but again, I don’t really know.

        In some areas, yes, I would say that I’m more opposed to the government than you, but in other areas, I wouldn’t say that. I’m more supportive of war and defense in general, as well as domestic security (i.e. law and order). I wouldn’t call myself a “neocon,” but I am certainly uncomfortable with Ron Paul’s positions on foreign policy.

        I can see this comment getting pretty long, so I’ll stop it there and write a post on my blog if you’re interested.

  2. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Foreign Policy « Canadian Rattlesnake

  3. Sarah W.

    Just food for thought, but I know several Dems (one in particular in NY) who vote (D) regardless of the candidate’s worth. So, I think it’s fair to say that Republicans and/or Southerners don’t have the corner on voting party lines without serious thought or consideration.

    Also, I’m from/in Louisiana and am (1) not racist (although I will admit to my stereotypes and prejudices, mainly against stupidity though) and (2) am a recently converted Republican (was Independent due to politics in general, but have swapped out of “necessity”). All that’s to say, there are no absolutes. But you already know that 🙂

    As a side note, a good case in point is the fight going on right now in Louisiana over our state GOP convention last week. Google it.

  4. philebersole

    I think it is interesting that many white Southerners talk about who is and isn’t a “true Southerner” while I’ve never heard of a Northerner who worried about who is a “true Northerner.”

    In the same way, I know of black people who talk about who is “really black,” but I don’t know of any white people outside the lunatic fringe who worry about who is “really white.”

    This isn’t meant as a criticism, just an observation. Most people’s attitudes, including mine, are a product of history.

    1. Atticus Finch Post author

      That is an interesting observation Phil. I’m not sure where the idea of “real Southerner” has come from. I didn’t even realize it was a phenomena until recently. I think it is some sort of last ditch effort to preserve a dying culture or something. This might merit a little more thought.


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