The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 74.0°F | Mostly Cloudy


How Dems Could Win the South

Ruth Miller

Humor is what allows us to cope with life’s problems. We all have a sort of “as long as someone is worse off than me” mentality once in a while. While America is continually adding people to its refuge of political correctness, one group appears poised to remain a victim of American satire forever -- the South.

The South has found very creative ways to fight progress. In 2001, the state of Alabama adopted the three-eyed mutant lovechild of creationism and evolution, Intelligent Design, in its biology curriculum. In 2002, a county in Georgia attached disclaimers to its biology textbooks reminding students that evolution is just a theory. In 2003, the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice was suspended for having displayed the ten commandments outside the state justice department. Less than a month into 2004, Georgia State Superintendent Kathy Cox has motioned to remove the term “evolution” from public school curricula.

I want to be proud of the South, but I don’t feel like it’s really aware that its actions are so misdirected. So what if evolution is being taught in public schools? Isn’t that what Sunday school is for? Does it really matter that the ten commandments can’t be posted outside a government building? Are you going to forget them? Oh, so a homosexual couple wants to get married? Don’t be so insecure. This obsession with religion and consistent transparency on real issues has made the South the butt of many jokes. Here’s one for you -- why would a lower class Southerner vote for a Republican bent on alleviating the pains of the upper class at the working man’s expense?

Apparently the Democrats haven’t heard that one. Preaching public assistance programs doesn’t go over very well with struggling, proud families focused on making their own ends meet. Promoting diversity? Yeah, right. Would you rather vote for someone that ignores you or someone that just insults you?

The Southern mentality strongly embraces the use of scapegoats. Whether it’s the Yankees, blacks, women, gays, foreigners, or liberals, everything is always someone else’s fault. So when the government points the finger abroad, the South looks. The heart of the United States Armed Forces lies in the southern United States. More Southern boys have fought and died in Iraq than from any other region of the U.S. Why continue to support a war that kills your children? War is like football; they’re both hereditary. “My daddy played center in high school, so I’m playing center, too. My daddy fought in the Gulf War, so I’m enlisting, too.” It’s like rooting for the home team, and the home team is as close to divine as any man can get in the Bible Belt.

Probably the worst justification for voting is to base your decision on character. These are politicians we’re talking about. In an interview by Atlanta-based Creative Loafing, a rural Florida man who holds two jobs to support his family while voting conservative was quoted as saying, “Bush is family-oriented ... His stance on faith is bold. He's got backbone. He's got integrity. He's not afraid to do what he feels is right. You don't get that wishy-washy thing out of him.” Bill Clinton messed around with his intern and hurt himself, but George Bush messed around with America’s role in international politics and hurt our country. If character and faith were the most important factors in determining a president, Jimmy Carter would have been re-elected.

The few Southern voters that do show up at the polls vote for Bush, regardless of the fact that his policies directly undermine their own economic interests. If the Democrats can get their act together to form a message, which they have yet to do, they should garner Southern support by emphasizing economic issues.

Bush isn’t evil; he’s just serving his own interests. Fortunately for the Democrats, a very small percentage of Americans share his interest -- the exceedingly wealthy. Whoever can clearly demonstrate to voters that the GOP is at the submissive end of an uneven relationship with corporate America can remind voters that the Democratic Party is the friend of the struggling family. Side issues, like gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research, are just sideshows to the main act -- money. Health care, taxes, and employment are vital issues that the Democratic candidates have effectively ignored. I’d probably find that a lot funnier if I was an oil tycoon.