Since Colonial times there has been a division within the whites of the South — a geographic division that is also a cultural, educational, and political division. The division is between low-country whites and the hill farmer whites.
- Low country whites include the planters (plantation owners who were the wealthy class), merchants and manufacturers, and small professional class (doctors, lawyers, bankers). They were generally well-educated; the planters and professional class sent their sons to Ivy League schools, or, at least to state universities.
- The hill country whites were hard-scrabble dirt farmers; illiterate or semi-literate; clannish; violent.
In the late 1930’s, Jonathan Daniels, the brilliant young Southern liberal who was editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, set out on a journey through the South to “discover the South”. He published his observations in the book A Southerner Discovers the South.
Daniels wrote these words that predicted today’s Republican Party:
“In the cotton counties along the river in Mississippi, where there are three black skins for every white one, the gentlemen are afraid. But not of the Negroes. Indeed, the gentlemen and the Negroes are afraid together. They are fearful of the rednecks . . . who in politics and in person are pressing down upon the rich, flat Delta from the hard, eroded hills. They may lynch a Negro; they may destroy the last of a civilization which has great vices and great virtues, beauty and strength, responsibility beside arrogance, and a preserving honesty beside a destructive self-indulgence.” —Jonathan Daniels, A Southerner Discovers the South (1938)
This excerpt from Daniels’ 1938 book mirrors, in a way, what happened to the Republican party. While Daniels overly romanticizes the southern aristocracy’s virtues, the GOP’s degradation beginning with the influx of segregationists exiled from the Democratic party bears an eerie symmetry.
The Tea Party revolution was merely the last step in destruction of the Eisenhower Republican party by the forces of racial resentment, religious extremism and ignorance – abetted by plutocracy cloaked in the smoke and mirrors of “trickle down” economics
Now, the entire party has reached the predictable result, ruled by an dangerous idiot it dares not cross. They can only try to cheat to stave off the inevitable reckoning as the majority of Americans recoil from their creature and them.