The Abbeville Institute
Throughout most of American history region has been a better predictor of political position than party. That aspect of our reality has been neglected and suppressed in recent times as the rest of the country has conspired or acquiesced in transforming the South into a replica of Ohio.
Yet the notorious squeak vote on the ObamaCare bill shows that the old reality still exists and that the South is still the core and mainstay of any viable American conservatism. My friend Bill Cawthon has run down the statistics on the House of Representatives vote. Of the four census regions, the South was the only one to vote against the federal takeover of medicine. The South (the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma) voted 71 per cent against the bill; the Northeast 75 per cent in favour; the West 61 per cent aye; and the Midwest divided evenly.
Every Southern State voted a majority negative. The no vote included 19 Democrats from the South. If you remove the four sparsely populated Plains States of the western Midwest, the Midwest total moves to a majority in favour of ObamaCare, even allowing for the no-vote of the Southern border State Missouri.
This pattern has held on every major piece of legislation since 1965, even allowing that Southern Congressional districts are designed by federal lawyers and judges to maximise the minority vote. Immigration, balanced budget, public prayer, women in combat—the South has provided the brake on the leftist agenda of federal grasp. Of the 212 nay votes on ObamaCare nearly half (100) came from the South.
A century and a half ago, John C. Calhoun, one of the most prescient observers of the American regime, remarked that the South was the balance wheel of the Union which prevented the whole from flying apart under the stress of the manias that regularly seized hold of the mainstream. It looks as though that is still true, though our ability to control the machine grows weaker year by year.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews. More from Clyde Wilson