Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We're Still All Georgians

I keep vowing not to do any more political posts, but here I go again (maybe I should just stop vowing and see what happens). According to today's New York Times, the South is becoming marginalized in American politics. By voting so emphatically for John McCain over Barack Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did George Bush in 2004 — Southern voters are headed in a decidedly different direction than the rest of the nation.

The areas that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated, and whiter. Overall, less than a third of Southern whites voted for Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. According to exit poll data from Alabama, McCain had the support of 9 out of 10 whites. In rural Appalachia, Obama carried only 44 out of 410 counties. However, Virginia and North Carolina, "suburban" states that have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, bucked the trend and went for Obama.

And, like the Civil War, it's not over down here. While the rest of the country is suffering withdrawal symptoms associated with post-electoral depression, we're still participating in the Saxby Chambliss-Jim Martin run-off campaign. The post-election race has attracted national attention as Democrats attempt to get a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and Republicans try to prevent it. John McCain announced today that he will campaign for Chambliss this Thursday in (where else?) Cobb County, one of Georgia's whitest and most conservative counties (and, unfortunately, my current office location). Mike Huckabee will campaign here on Sunday.

Senator Orrin Hatch has sent out a fund-raising letter to Georgia voters stating, “We need every resource we can muster to ensure liberals don’t steal the election in Minnesota, and to stop the MoveOn.org’s candidate in Georgia.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee has issued a web ad which declares that Saxby Chambliss’ re-election is required, if we are to escape the "radical social agenda" of Obama and other Democrats.

And today, a Georgia congressman said that Obama intends to establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship. "It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said. "I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.” Broun said he believes Obama would move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national security force.

I've seen the video of the speech - neo-con co-workers marched into my office one day and demanded that I watch it. “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” Obama said. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” In the context of the speech, Obama was clearly referring to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure — an idea endorsed by the Bush administration - not an armed rival to the military. Besides, I thought Republicans were in favor of gun ownership.

According to Rep. Broun, “We can’t be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler" Broun said, comparing Obama to Hitler. "What I’m saying is there is the potential of going down that road.”

Obama’s victory last week showed that politicians no longer need the South to win a national election. The region no longer votes as a solid bloc, and it is possible to win elections by splintering off urban areas like Atlanta and suburban states like Virginia and North Carolina. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats come from the South or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and abortion.

Senate challenger Jim Martin has asked Obama to come to Georgia for his campaign, but so far Obama has not confirmed a visit and I'm not sure if it's appropriate for him to fuel partisan differences by involving himself in the campaign. However, field operatives who worked for Obama’s presidential campaign will be heading to Georgia. The Obama aides will help with the grass-roots turnout in the three weeks left before the runoff election.

This morning, Blog for Democracy posted a want ad, seeking local housing for the new volunteers:
"We’re getting a large influx of staff from other states to help out with the Jim Martin campaign. If you can house a staffer for a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, please email Dwayne. I’m told the need is urgent. Please spread the word."
The Unsellable Condo in Vinings (Cobb County) is still vacant - topic for another posting on another day - but I'm still not turning it over to a bunch of Obama field operatives, however good their intentions (or mine).

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