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.
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