The Political Culture of our County and State

The Politics of Rage by Dan Carter highlights the career of George Wallace, a pivotal political figure in American history.

Understanding the current political condition of our county and state does require a short lesson in southern history. In depth historical texts on this issue that are widely read start with The Origins of the New South by C. Vann Woodward, and continue up to the present day by historians such as Kevin Kruse. Another excellent history about the recent south and the conservative movement in general is The Politics of Rage by Dan Carter.

In short, the once "solid south," governed almost everywhere by the old Jim Crow era Democratic Party, began moving toward the Republican Party after World War II. This happened as the Democratic Party came to embrace the cause of African-American civil rights while the Republican Party, once a champion of those civil rights, decided to adopt the "Southern strategy." This strategy was initially one of targeting white fears, resentments, and anger over race. As the Civil Rights era emotions faded (but NEVER completely went away), this targeting of white southerners continued through the use of wedge issues like abortion and gun rights and the embracing of the corporation-driven white conservative evangelical movement that began during the New Deal era. (See quote here from "old school" conservative Barry Goldwater on this phenomenon as it was happening.)

What we've also seen in the past 2 decades is a growing division between more rural areas of the U.S. and more urban/suburban ones. Rural America has tended to be a bit "left behind" economically, while a good many rural people have chosen to see the cultural diversity that has become the norm in most of American society today as some kind of threat to them and their way of life.

That leaves a rural county like Dade leaning very Republican these days. This makes it very difficult for us as a local committee to effectively run candidates. The typical R/D split inside the county these days runs from 80/20 to 70/30. What can we as a committee do about this?

At the state level, the transition from Southern Democratic Party control to Southern Republican Party control was completed in 2002 as Republicans won majorities using racist symbols like the Confederate flag. In the years since, Georgia reached peak Republican control in 2010, but a definite shift back toward the Democratic Party has since been underway, culminating in President Joe Biden winning Georgia in 2020 and Georgia electing two Democratic Senators in early 2021!

This shift is most noticeable in the suburbs of Atlanta, and now is moving into the next level of counties beyond those. Even here in Congressional District 14, we've begun to see an uptick in Democratic voting in our largest counties (Paulding, Floyd, Whitfield). What we're seeing in this new change can be called the "suburban effect"...younger Georgians who have grown up and live in more diverse neighborhoods and areas and who are rejecting the old "dog whistles" and wedge issues the Republicans have traditionally used and voting Democratic in increasing numbers.

For now, our primary role here in Dade is to slowly increase our share of the voting public, helping to continue the current state wide trend, and speeding up the process to make our party competitive again at the district and county levels!