5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2008
Unlike Thomas Schaller, who argued in his book, Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, that the Democrats should form a new national consensus without the South, Bob Moser makes the exact opposite claim: the Democrats need to win back the South if they want to win future elections.
While most have correctly identified the South as being socially conservative, many (including the Democratic Party) have failed to realize how fiscally liberal the South is. Instead, many in the Democratic Party have become "me-too" Democrats; agreeing with the Republicans on fiscal issues while downplaying their own social agenda. This "New Democrat" type of moderation as not impressed the South. As a result, Democrats running in national elections in Dixie have gone nowhere.
Moser states that the Democrats need to employ a 21st century type of populism; one that argues for the power of good government to protect the common man. This populist style will resonate strongly with Southern voters, who have witnesses many jobs shipped overseas and a widening gap between the top-income earners and the middle class. With an increasing number of Evangelicals preaching a social gospel calling for more aid to the poor, a new populism, Moser claims, can indeed work. These issues are strong ones for the Democratic Party, and they should use thus to their advantage.
Unlike the Solid South of the early 20th century, the South of today is far from solid. Local Democrats in state legislatures have been able to win elections, and there are still more voters registered as Democrats rather than Republicans. Permanent minority status, Moser argues, is far from inevitable. If the Democrats can formulate an agenda arguing the positive aspects of good government, they can ultimately reclaim the South.
Especially relevant in an election year, Moser's book is a must read for Democrats and Southerners alike. Although he does make some subtle, snide, and at times unnecessary attacks on the GOP, his analysis is still solid. With a projected 40% of the nation's electoral votes by 2032, the South is by far too valuable a region to simply pass up. If the Democrats fail to heed Moser's advice, they may lose the South, and thus the presidency, for many generations to come.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2008
After reading this wonderful book you should have the following question on your mind: Why did the Democrats give up on the South in 2004?
Despite what many so-called pundits perceive, Southerners are really not as politically homogeneous as they expect. If you take away the divisive social wedge issues, Southerners really want a populist government.
Bob Moser does an excellent job in giving us a history of Southern politics from just before the Civil Rights era right up to the Democratic primaries of 2008. He shows us how the DLC inspired agenda of trying to out-Republican the Republicans in the 1990's and early part of this decade failed the Democratic Party miserably.
The Democratic Party in the South shall not be ignored now or in the future when the population is even more representative of the national electorate.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2008
Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority by Bob Moser is an articulate, well-documented and concise book detailing the strategy that Democrats need to implement in the South if they wish to succeed. The book could not have been written at a more perfect time as Barack Obama heads into the General Election against the Republican candidate John McCain.
This is a book that every Southern Progressive must read before they cast another ballot in a Presidential election. In eight quick chapters, Bob Moser is able to convey his arguments with facts and research that support his overall claims. This read is recommended to anyone willing to entertain the Republican myth in the south and unravel the voting inconsistencies of the South since Nixon.
The demise of the Democratic Party in the South is a culmination of multiple events as Moser recounts. He sheds light into the Republican's myth of how the South was won, but any Romanization of such accounts is not included without scrutiny. There is hope for Southern Progressives though. Moser calls for a Southern populist movement that unites the regions diverse ethnic and socio-economic population through the issue of Economics. Moser looks down upon the pandering to Dixiecrats by Democrats and asks them to wake up and see their new constituency- made up of Hispanics, Northern Yankees that have relocated in the South to retire and African-Americans.
Moser's argument is as follows: the Democrats betrayed the South by neglecting their new constituency of African-Americans that were eligible to vote. They also
failed to rally behind the white Southern Progressives that helped African-Americans win their rights. At the same time, Republicans developed a race-baiting tactic and swept up the region by gerrymandering. Democrats then became the "Republican-Lite" party; always copying the GOP and trying to out do them.
Moser claims, "Only one party calibrated its pitch and its organizing methods- focusing on the megachurches that were becoming the community centers of Southern suburbs- to the regions evolving culture and new economic realities." This is how the GOP was able to establish a successful base in the South and the Democrats have only imitated them and failed. This has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that makes it seem that the South belongs to Republicans thus Democrats do not challenge them. The end result is that Southern Progressives feel neglected and it shows. They do not show up to vote.
The South is not a lost cause for Democrats. By exposing the false claims of the Republican party and using Moser's strategy and grassroots organization, Democrats have a great chance of turning the tide in this region. Moser uses personal narratives of people living in the South that seek the change that Progressives envision. Democrats cannot continue to neglect the region and must fight for the votes. Moser explains that a populist message of economics will unite the region behind a Democratic any day. Democrats cannot afford to ignore the region any more. Bob Moser never said it would be easy but Democrats have to fight to win back the region. Blue Dixie explains even to a political novice what Progressives need to do to win back the South. Can Democrats build a new progressive majority in the South? Yes we can!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Bob Moser's compelling new book, "Blue Dixie", gives reasons for hope for the millions of liberal-minded residents south and west of the Mason-Dixon line...hope that the monolithic nature of the South's Republican voting (in presidential elections, for the most part) may actually be turning a corner. It's a tough sell, but Moser just might be onto something.
Early on in "Blue Dixie", a chapter called "Dixiephobia" is introduced and it's a wise choice, given the fact that many readers will not be from the south. While the stereotypes of southerners have long been played out in Hollywood and mocked in other parts of the country, Moser reminds us that the south has a full-fledged core of liberals, who need reasons to come out and vote. He describes the campaign of Congressman Harold Ford, who tried to run in a 2006 Tennessee Senate campaign against his opponent as an almost identical Republican. Moser, quite rightly, suggests that in order to win in the south Democrats need to be Democrats, not a pale substitution of Republicans.
The hardest nut to crack seems to be the evangelical vote, but here, too, things are breaking down. Once seen as the most important voting bloc in the south, the 2006 elections gave rise to a change in evangelical voting habits...and one that may portend an even further shift down the road. Added to that, many Yankees, moving to the south for warmer weather and a lower cost of living, bring with them more moderate views and the explosion of the Hispanic population in states like Georgia, may well have a lasting effect countering the votes of the good-ol'-boy network. While no one is suggesting a return to a large Democratic majority in the south, Moser points out that on local and state levels, southerners tend to vote more Democratic, thereby making inroads for Democrats to make many states more "two-party".
"Blue Dixie" is a comprehensive look at how the south works and I recommend it. I wish, however, that author Moser had spent more time looking at the youth impact. He touches on it, but that being the real future of the turnaround to a bluer Dixie, I would have liked to have heard more. One hopes that Bob Moser might have a sequel in mind for the post-2008 election.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2009
Since the 1960's Nixon victory, American politics has rested on an unquestioned assumption that there was one monolithic 'solid south' which opposed civil rights and essentially anything which smacked of progress.
Rather than countering the message, the national Democratic Party actually ignored it--to their detriment according to this book.
Concentrating on the East, West Coasts and Midwest then ironically allowed the GOP leadership to paint the Democratic Party as 'out of touch' with the South. And during the 'Reagan Revolution' they finally succeeded.
Despite having twice delivered a president, Moser actually is skeptical of the Democratic Leadership Committee. Formed in 1985, this organization was ironically an attempt to reenergize southern voters to the Democratic Party. Deemphasizing social issues, the organization would instead appeal to moderate white voters. Emphasizing common grounds would demonstrate that the Democrats aren't so `far out' after all.
Moser argues that southerners who believe in fairness are not a lost cause for the national Democratic Party to mobilize during national campaigns. A powerful part of the book has `everyday' people included to demonstrate what being a `liberal' ultimately is. Affordable housing, and other issues aren't so `extreme' when people move beyond slick media stereotyping. We remember the Democratic Party is the party promoting these issues and that the south has no shortage of affiliated voters!
But he then ironically assumes that anybody remotely associated with the DLC does not/cannot believe in such fairness. His attacks on the 1992 Clinton campaign were pointless, detracting from the book's stated thesis as an organizing piece for the Party.
And he selectively ignores the now-legendary election administration mishaps in Florida during the 2000 campaign. It comes across as somebody being mad because `his' candidate did not win, distinct scenarios than `the Party could not win' an election.
The writing is amusing, but I realize that Moser is not sure what exactly he is campaigning against/for in his thesis. Is it a book to help Democrats win elections? Or is it a book to create divisions within various factions of the party and potentially keep southern Democrats from being elected to office? If we fight amongst ourselves 'who is the most progressive' this is not campaign organizing. It wastes time and resources which could be applied to help everyday people.
Surely after the book argues against stereotyping Democrats, he would have wanted to avoid stereotyping people with whom he could probably find common ground with on multiple issues?