Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

"Yes, We Did: the Southern Argument for Progressive Change"

PhotobucketWhy now, when a glut of “My Interpretation of Campaign 2008” books, by top tier writers, floods a shaky market?

Because the experts, pundits and historians, will be analyzing, parsing and writing Election ’08 for decades. They will examine, in particular, how progressive voices impacted the demise of the ever-solid, hard-wired GOP Southern Bloc and how on earth an African American candidate put his own 18 million cracks in the uber-conservative ceiling down here.


Why this book? Because those experts, however well-meaning or broadly educated in all matters socio-political, are not Southerners. They are not writers who came of age in Jim Crow South Carolina. Nor are they ordinary citizens who live and work, eat and sleep, in the rural South.

It was an army of ordinary Southern voters who, when they closed the curtain behind themselves on election day, broke ranks and voted for the Democratic candidate.

Why this book? Because chronicling the columns and posts  of a Southern journalist arguing for the end of the Dubya Doctrine and the beginning of an Obama Era may help explain why that surge of Southern voters said NO to the GOP on November 4, 2008. For us, it involved an epiphany; a surprising number of us found some light at the end of the Jim Crow tunnel.

Southerners are cantankerous about their politics. Liberal, in the Deep South, has been a four-letter word since Bleeding-heart Yankees turned the Democratic Party from the segregation-friendly party of “states’ rights” to the party of equal rights integration: shared opportunity, shared schools, shared water fountains and seats at the front of the bus.

Few people can speak better to the emergence, however tenuous, of a more progressive South in 2008 than the Southern writers who have argued for that kind of change.

Had this book ended as planned, on the high note story of Inauguration Day 2009, an argument about relevance might have been made. It was, in the main, a look back. But my editor, Wallace McBride, is the dream shepherd of every writer’s attempt to speak his/her truth to power. He responded in the affirmative when I said we needed a very last minute epilogue. Given the GOP’s finding its lost voice — that of the strident obstructionist minority in the face of a necessary stimulus bill — more had to be said. I ended the book on a fiery note; a warning to progressives and a challenge to conservatives.

Winning is not enough. We progressives must remain the vigilant, vocal activist community which helped turn the Southern tide just a small, healthy bit to the left, in 2008.

The progressive South should be heard. And we can speak for ourselves.


  1. ragekage

    As a Virginian, I agree a hundred percent. I’m gonna have to pick up a copy of this book. Chris, you know all the interesting people.

  2. Hollede

    2010 is a really big deal. Thank you for posting this here and for writing about this sea change from your perspective.

  3. Someone once wrote that George W was the first and last President of the old South. Isn’t it odd that the Carolinas tipped the primary for Obama, and the Virginian vote was the key indicator of election victory.

    I just hope the Republicans’ narrow and divisive ‘Southern Strategy’ has reached its final dead end 40 years on, and that the South can continue surprising us.

    Even in the most conservative states in the South (unlike utah and wyoming) there’s always a 30 to 40 per cent democratic vote.

    That’s a lot of Southern progressives. Not that far off a majority.  

  4. Linda Hansen

    For your comments about my book. We Southern progressives need all the support we can get, and yours is deeply appreciated.

    The book, published by a conservative newspaper/syndicate (in a singular act of political courage), will only be available for sale online; through the publisher’s site now and at Amazon next week. My editor tells me we are getting heavy traffic (thank you!), and he has just added The Motley Moose to the site’s “Yes, We Did” blog roll.

    As of this morning, our book has been noticed by a staff member at Politico. She’s buying and says she’s going to see if they’ll post a link there.

    Note to John: Don’t give up on the Deep South yet. We Southern writers are linked, arm-in-arm, with an emerging progressive movement which was nurtured and trained by Obama staff during Campaign ’08. My book is evidence of a shift here–such a book wouldn’t have been possible two years ago.

    And, as I said in my book bio: Things aren’t what they used to be. I write a regular liberal column down here–and I haven’t been publicly called an “…unAmerican, Godless heathen who hates our troops” in months.

  5. Moo Means Hello

    As (another) Virginian, yay! Someone needs to tell the story of Southern Progressive. You yankees don’t even know half the story!

  6. with this subject.

    No region is a monolithic collection of similar states. Pennsylvania is not New York. Vermont is not New Hampshire or Maine. Michigan is not Ohio. The North, The South, or any other region of the country is very diverse. Mississippi is not Louisiana. Alabama is not Georgia. Hell, North Carolina is not the same as South Carolina. Just ask anyone in any one of those states.

    Regional ties can be broken by closer ties with a state from a different region. For instance, North Carolina has a much longer history with Massachusetts than it does with Texas. I don’t think the problems for the progressive cause in the South has anything to do with regionalism. I think it is more a matter of religion. Not just the degree of religiosity in that region, but also the message that is preached from the pulpits. The message far too many hear is not one of tolerance or compassion. This is sad.

    (This Gallup poll has a map partway down the page. It’s rather interesting.)

    It’s also a problem we will have to deal with if we expect to further the progressive cause in the Bible Belt.

    This, of course, doesn’t explain why the mountain West is less religious, except for Utah, yet solidly conservative. I tend to think that has something to do with population density. When there aren’t very many people around you tend to learn to lean on yourself and your neighbors. This promotes a fairly libertarian view of life. I don’t know what the counter is for that problem. It’s not really that big a problem given the scarcity of electoral college votes in that region.

    Does any of this make sense?

  7. Kiku

    It’s so good to read you again!

    I’m tucked away is a very wierd part of the country, San Diego, where people vote without thinking, where anything goes, including electing Duke Cunningham, member of the KKK to the Congress, who is now in jail.

    Congrats on the book!

    Love you lots!

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