I only very rarely can honestly say that I absolutely agree with every word of an article I have read. It is rare that an author states what I already believe to be true, and it is an extra special treat when an author is able to actually change my mind and get me to agree unreservedly. Bob Moser in The Way Down South, written for The Nation, did just that, and I strongly urge you to go and read every word.
I was one of those who endorsed the "no South" strategy for President. I was one who joined in the chorus of "fuck the South" after 2004. I strongly believed that the future of the Democratic party was in the inter-mountain west and desert southwest. I still believe that we stand to make significant gains here, but Moser convinced me it would be unethical and counter-productive to the health and vitality of our party to write off the South. I am guilty of having a stereotyped and narrow view of southern states, which is inexcusable as I have spent considerable time in the South and know first-hand the populist resentment that boils beneath the surface, and the progressive views on race, culture, and government flourishing in the new urban South. I believe I was wrong, and to the extent that you might share my former discouragement about Democratic chances in the South, I encourage you to re-examine your premises and read Moser’s article.
The 2006 elections has lessons to teach us, and I think we are still absorbing the lessons. One of the lessons is that populist and progressive Democrats can and do win everywhere in America; in rural areas, in the south, and in other Republican "strongholds". We have to ask for citizens’ votes everywhere and not neglect to show up and explain our values and our philosophy.
We have also learned that Republican-lite candidates, such as the DLC would urge us to offer, have failed and will continue to fail in Southern states. We need strong and unapologetic liberals and progressives who can and will make the case for Democratic values, including a secular separation between church and state. If we are going to win, state, local and national races in 2006 all point to the conclusion that we’re going to do it as real Democrats, not technocrats, televangelists, or triangulators.
We have to contest every state, every county, and every precinct. We have to keep in mind that even in areas we haven’t carried in the past there are 30%, 40%, or even 49.9% of voters who agree with us and will give us their votes – and many more are so discouraged that haven’t voted who probably agree with us, too. If we don’t show up, we forfeit the right to convince more people that we’re right, and condemn some of our citizens to hearing only one side of the story. Thanks to Bob Moser for putting that simple truth front and center in my mind and reminding me that our Democratic party is so named because we are the party of the people, all the people, everywhere – especially in the South, where we are needed more than ever to help the powerless find their voice.