From Publishers Weekly
Instead of "futile pandering to the nation's most conservative voters," in the South, Democrats should build a non-Southern majority to regain dominance, argues Schaller, a University of Maryland political scientist, in this focused, tactical account. The Republicans' Southern monopoly may have helped them achieve national majorities in the past, but it has never constituted a majority alone, Schaller explains. There are greener pastures for Democrats at all levels of elected government: the Midwest, Southwest and Mountain West. Schaller's demographic numbers buttress a solid argument, but he contradicts himself at times—as when he argues that many voters (deceived by Republican politicians) empowered "a radically conservative agenda" against their own interests but are "smart" enough to understand a nuanced Democratic platform on American liberties (e.g., connecting gun rights and gay rights). But the basic truth of the author's fight-fire-with-fire strategy is undeniable: a much-needed shot of realpolitik in the arm of the modern Democratic Party, whose greatest weakness lies not in the lack of good ideas but in compromising them. Charts, maps. (Oct.)
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In this highly accessible book, political science professor Schaller points to political history and research on changing demographics to illustrate why the South is now openly hostile to Democrats, who tend to lack the proper "cultural credentials" to appeal to most southerners. The South is the most militaristic, least unionized area of the U.S., and voters are far more likely to weigh social and cultural concerns than economic ones when voting. Rather than trying to recapture the past when the Democrats could reliably count on the South for votes, the party needs to devise a strategy that concentrates on opportunities elsewhere, advises Schaller. Noting that the Republicans dominated politics in the decades between the Civil War and the New Deal without the support of the South, Schaller outlines strategies for how the Democrats can now capitalize on opportunities to expand in other areas even as the high population of blacks in the South will continue to provide the party with a toehold there. An absorbing look at politics and demographics. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved