Why don’t the Democrats ever talk about how the paradigm of free-market capitalism led to these conditions in the South and how the New Deal coalition ended it?
“In the chronically depressed southern agriculture of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, tenancy increased steadily as many farmers lost their land. It reached its peak in 1930, when the census counted 228,598 cash renters, 772,573 sharecroppers, and 795,527 other tenants (mostly share tenants) in 13 southern and border states. Tenancy was the dominant pattern in staple-crop production. In 1937 the President’s Committee on Farm Tenancy estimated that tenants and croppers were 65 percent of all farmers in the Cotton Belt and 48 percent in tobacco regions. Approximately two-thirds of southern tenants were white, although many croppers, the lowest tenure group, the number of whites and blacks was about equal. Share tenants, croppers, and their families easily comprised nearly half the 1930 southern farm population of 15.5 million.
Southern tenancy was the context for a culture of rural poverty. Tenants and croppers received some of the lowest incomes in America, rarely clearing more than a few hundreds dollars per yer. Their more common experience, especially in years of low-crop prices, was to receive no net income at all because their shares of crops could not cover high-interest furnishing debts. These scant earnings kept rural southerners living at the bottom of the national scale. Cotton and tobacco tenants lived in the fields they worked in pine-board cabins that lacked window glass, screens, electricity, plumbing, and even wells and privies. Thousands of families were without common household furnishings, stoves, mattresses, or adequate clothing and shoes. The poorest croppers subsisted on a furnish-store diet that relied heavily on salt pork, flour, and meal. Owning no cows or poultry and tending no gardens, they seldom consumed milk, eggs, or fresh vegetables. Malnutrition compounded wretched living conditions to make chronic illness a major feature of rural life, as malaria, pellagra, and hookworm infection stunted the development of children, shortened lives, and lowered the economic productivity of the poor.”
Melissa Walker & James C. Cobb, The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), pp.121-124
Look up how simply giving Southern farmers the money to buy better farm equipment in the 1930s ended this nightmare and erased that national disgrace.
Do you think “progressivism” would be more popular and more people would vote for the Democrats in the South if, say, you reminded them of this instead of berating them over slavery or arguing over whether transsexuals should serve in the military or public restrooms should be gender netural? Has it never occurred to you to try to tell a better story to win over Southern voters?
Note: Is there a single “Democratic strategist” who knows shit about anything?