aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, December 01, 2006
Kilgore on Schaller
Since Democrats did in fact gain ground in the South and did not lose a thing, Schaller is at pains to show how meager those gains were in comparison with the gains in other regions. But he largely ignores the constraints of the Southern political landscape this year. In a quirk of the electoral calendar, only five Senate seats were up in the South (accepting Schaller’s definition of “the South” as the 11 states of the old Confederacy), four held by Republicans. Democrats won two, for a net gain of one senator, which is a perfectly proportional contribution to the conquest of the Senate. Similarly, there were six gubernatorial contests in the South, five in seats held by Republicans. Democrats won two for a net gain of one, again a proportional contribution to the national results. (Democrats also won the single Southern governor’s races held in 2004 and in 2005, which means they now control five of the 11 executive offices.)
There’s no question Democrats underperformed in Southern House races, picking up five net seats (with a sixth and a seventh possible in disputed races in North Carolina and Florida). But it should be remembered that nearly half the region’s House seats are in three super-gerrymandered states, Texas, Florida and Georgia. Schaller emphasizes two near losses by Democratic incumbents in my home state of Georgia. But in fairness, he should acknowledge that both of these districts were re-gerrymandered by the Republican Legislature last year, making Jim Marshall’s district (the 8th) significantly more Republican, and taking John Barrow’s home base out of his district (the 12th) entirely. The close Georgia outcomes also owed a lot to the decision of the national GOP to make Marshall and Barrow two of the three incumbents they spent heavily to defeat, in the end falling short.
As for state legislators, Schaller sniffs that Democrats picked up a small percentage of their national gains in seats in the South, and didn’t win control of any new chambers. But the national seat-gain number is distorted by big Democratic pickups in the mammoth New Hampshire House, and Democrats were already stronger in Southern legislatures than in many other parts of the country. As of today, each party controls five Southern state legislatures, with one split (Tennessee). Not too shabby.
Big ‘D’ Democrats and Southern Heritage
Last week from On The Media:
Black, White & Red All Over
On November 10, 1898, a mob of white supremacists ransacked the city of Wilmington, North Carolina, and toppled its biracial government. 108 years later, The Charolotte Observer and Raleigh’s News & Observer are apologizing for their role in fomenting the violence. Duke historian Tim Tyson tells Bob [Garfield] how newspapers turned neighbor against neighbor and helped usher in Jim Crow. [...]
[F]or several years a bi-racial coalition of Republicans and populists had controlled two Senate seats, the governorship and a majority in the state legislature. Supporters of the so called “fusion movement” were mostly white, but in a number of counties, black men held elective office, too.
All that came to an end on one bloody November night in what came to be known as the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898. Spurred on by the local press, white mobs set fire to black owned businesses and overthrew the city’s own fusion government. They killed dozens of blacks and ran thousands out of town.
BOB GARFIELD: In the year 2000, a state commission finally was created to investigate the episode. It concluded that what happened that night in Wilmington was not so much a riot as an insurrection, a coup d’etat orchestrated by prominent members of the Democratic Party. They wanted to topple the fusion government. And though they had big business on their side, as well as a number of regional papers, that wasn’t enough. They needed the poor white farmers.
And so, says Duke professor Timothy Tyson, the Democrats used the printing press to paint the conflict in black and white.
TIMOTHY TYSON: The goal was elite rule. Racial rhetoric and racial violence was a tool to that end.
Emphasis mine. The story goes on to discuss how the “Democratic Party papers of that era” - including The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal Constitution - were complicit and the federal government did nothing.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but what of reparations?
TIMOTHY TYSON: I don’t know. Honestly, you know, I don’t think that private payments to individual citizens are really going to do much to fix the damage that’s been done. And I would also just say that The News and Observer, really, since 1998, on the 100th anniversary of the Wilmington race riot, has spent a lot of newsprint reporting on their own role back in the white supremacy revolution. The Greensboro paper and the Charlotte paper have done the same thing.
So I don’t think that they bear any great stigma. They’ve been very honest about how things were.
I accept that; it sounds good and reasonable to me. But what of the Democratic party and their role? Why are we holding “big business” and those “regional papers” accountable for their complicity in the atrocities but not the Democratic Party?
Just asking. And good for them I guess.
I have to say I wouldn’t be asking either except that it bugs me big-time how much of the party discussion is infatuated with Tom Schaller’s suggestion that we turn the very Southern racism those “prominent members of the Democratic Party” fostered into, from page 18 of his book Whistling Past Dixie, a “burdensome stone to hang around the Republicans’ neck.”
Wouldn’t it be more noble, respectable and appropriate for the Democratic Party to redouble its efforts in the South, and make Race a defining characteristic of the party agenda nationwide?
The Schaller crowd objects to pandering to Southern white voters. So do I. But what about the national level pandering that keeps our prisons disproportionately full of black men, our public school system disproportionately funded so that blacks disproportionately under perform and our inner cities disproportionately poor?
The abstinence myth
Now some might ask, where’s the proof? It’s here:
The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy said that research from the United States showed that contraception was the way to bring down rates. Researchers from Columbia University and the Guttmacher Institute examined the relative roles of abstinence and contraceptive use in the “remarkable decline” in US teenage pregnancy rates, which dropped 27 per cent from 1991 to 2000. They said that 86 per cent of the decline in teenage pregnancy was due to improved use of contraception.
Only 14 per cent of the drop amongst 15- to 19-year-olds was linked to reduced sexual activity, according to the study, published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
Gill Frances, the chairman of the British advisory group, said: “Providing young people with good information, advice and contraceptive services, is the way to reduce teenage pregnancy.
“It is a myth that abstinence is a better approach and this US study confirms it.”