Poor But Proud: Voting to Remain Poor Still Plagues the South

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The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson

The news could not be any worse.

I honestly wish there was some good news to report. Sorry to say, there’s not any.

Well, the Crimson Tide did manage to pull out a victory over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, football being about the only thing worth mentioning on the good side of the ledger in Alabama. But the Atlanta Braves were knocked out of post-season play last week, so baseball season is over. So much for sports.

I traveled to the Gulf Coast again last week for Shrimp Fest, hoping upon hope to see some signs of things getting better along the formerly beautiful Gulf of Mexico. I’ve spent a fair portion of my life visiting the Gulf, and lived in Gulf Shores and New Orleans for some very interesting runs over the years.

Alas, I came away with empirical data indicating that the air and water are still dangerous and may not get well anytime soon.

On the political front, the elections of 2010 are shaping up to be compared to Richard Nixon’s midterm elections in 1970 and his reelection campaign in 1972, when corporate and individual donations were secretly pouring in to the Committee to Re-Elect the President, otherwise known as CREEP.

Nixon said he was “not a crook,” but he was certainly a creep. No historical rehabilitation will ever exonerate him for that.

The record of all that illegal Republican campaign cash was stored in the president’s secretary’s desk, and is now in the National Archives and referred to as “Rose Mary’s baby.” Unfortunately, the Washington Post‘s investigation of the Watergate break in did not pick up enough steam to stop Nixon’s reelection, even though it did culminate in his impeachment and resignation after the election — and jail time for some of his cronies.

Is it possible that a similar scenario is developing this time around?


Some alert watchdog groups are already calling for a criminal investigation of all this campaign cash flowing into the coffers of private groups now allowed to engage in a massive amount of political advertising — without having to divulge the source of the money.

The not-so-liberal New York Times says there’s nothing illegal going on, thanks to Bush’s conservative Supreme Court nominees, who overturned a century of American law by throwing out the ban on corporate political advertising.

Poll after poll shows the public so disgruntled with the Obama administration that a Republican landslide on Nov. 2 appears inevitable.

While black turnout is crucial for Democrats on Nov. 2, there is not much evidence that they are fired up to vote for the candidates running on the Democratic ticket.

The one U.S. House race mentioned in Alabama is the Second Congressional District around Montgomery, where a so-called “Blue Dog” or conservative Democrat named Bobby Bright holds the seat. The former mayor of Montgomery is “such a purebred Blue Dog that he is practically red,” according to the Times.

What good does it do to vote for Democrats if they are as conservative as their Republican counterparts?

Bright gives about as much of a shit about working people in Alabama and America as John Boehner, the Republican House Minority Leader from Ohio with the fake tan, who called passage of the pathetic No Child Left Behind Act his “proudest achievement” in two decades of public service.

What will the Republicans do once they retake a majority in Congress? Have they proposed any kind of a plan to put America back to work?

Quite the contrary.

The CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was quoted this week beginning to lay the foundation for a specious argument that outsourcing jobs overseas is good for America.

Come on, rednecks. Are you seeing these assholes for the bastards they are yet? They DO NOT care about you!

The Republicans have already vowed to dismantle Obama’s health care reform law, meaning there will be no relief in our lifetimes for the 50 million Americans without ANY health care coverage at all. They are doomed to die.

I wonder how many tea party gangsters will vote against Democrats because they are convinced they are “liberals” — and then go on to die because they have no health insurance? That would make an interesting study.

Oh, that’s right. Most of the tea party gang are on Welfare and Medicare, so what do they care?

All of this reminds me of a book published by former Auburn professor Wayne Flynt back in the 1980s called Poor But Proud: Alabama’s Poor Whites. He made the case that “Big Mule” plantation and corporate owners were able to exploit the working classes of Alabama largely by manipulating their voting habits in a cynical ploy to appeal to their religious leanings.

Ronald Reagan perfected that exploitation strategy in the ’80s. Scholars called it the Dixie or Southern Strategy. With evil Karl Rove’s help, Bush did the same in 2000 and 2004. Remember the Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage they talked about two weeks before the vote in 2004? Did it ever come up after the election? Was it ever even proposed? Of course not. It was simply another political ploy.

I’m certain that if Flynt were interviewed today, he would be shocked that this practice is still being used to effectively kill American workers by their own voting hands.

They say information is power. But that does not mean good information will win the day.

Bad information, like the propaganda spouted on Fox News and talk radio every day, seems just as powerful as the truth people could find on the Web — if they took the time to look.

There is just as much bad information as there is good on that damn Facebook, where people seem to be turning more and more every day not only to meet up with old friends, but to argue their political points of view.

Unfortunately, like scholars have been saying for decades, most people just tend to spout what they hear their friends and family say, and what they hear on talk radio and see on TeeVee. Sharing bad information is as easy as sharing good information.

Even though a new information revolution is going on, not everybody has figured out how to negotiate it yet or to discern the good information from the bad. It may very well happen one day soon, but by then, it may be too late.

I hope not. But as of today, I am not a hopeful camper. You?

Well, maybe the Crimson Tide will win the national championship again, and half the people of my home state can pretend all’s right with the world. That will be no consolation for Auburn fans, but I guess it beats suicide.

© 2010 – 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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