This article in Slate talks about the types of reactions Howard Dean’s been getting for saying he wants the votes of guys who have Confederate flags on their bumper stickers.
Naturally, Al Sharpton piped in with whatever racist connotations he could come up with, and professional office-runner “look at me, I’m Southern just like Clinton” John Edwards took offense, but that’s because Dean’s the front runner and is going to be shot at by the also-rans.
But is anybody really offended by that? I’m a Southerner, and I’m not offended. I don’t think it stereotypes Southerners. To me, that was Dean’s way of saying that the Democrats need to start winning the south again, since the Republicans have been taking away what has traditionally been a shoe-in for Democrats. I’ve known plenty of lifetime Democrats who voted for Jesse Helms. One of them told me “I didn’t leave the Democrat party. They left me.”
I’m not offended. This is partially because I’m not uptight about the Confederate flag, and partially because, IMHO, Dean isn’t someone to be taken seriously.
At least they’re not calling us “The Bubba Vote” – yet. THAT annoys me, not because I’m offended at the word Bubba, but because they wouldn’t even THINK of, say, calling it “The Black Vote” or “The Goldstein Vote” or “The Granola Vote” (California, of course), etc.
I’m not offended either. As a matter of fact, it sounds inclusive to me. The guys with the flag bumper stickers are patronized by most politicians - who hope that they remain ignorant. It’s refreshing for someone to realize that they need a voice too.
I know what he’s saying, I just think it was foolish to phrase it that way. Dean’s a hard enough sell in this part of the country without him saying that we’re basically nobody he has to even pretend to be polite to.
I wasn’t offended. I was more mystified by Edwards statement to the effect that he’s from a small Southern town of about 8-900 people and they didn’t have anyone like that. Heck, we’ve even got “good old boys” (to use an older euphemism) up here in Ohio.
[sup]Who grew up in Georgia and Florida, home of the “Hell no, we won’t forget!” bumper sticker.[/sup]
Offended? No. Bemused is a better description. Something akin to saying “I want the duuuuuude vote” to indicate Californians. To pick a negative stereotype, apply it to a whole region and make that your target demographic is laughable. I do take it as a further indication that the Democratic party in general, and Dean in particular, are completely out of touch with the real South. It ain’t by accident that the Demo’s are quickly losing their traditional stronghold.
hmmm…I don’t know if there is more to the statement than what was posted…but my reaction to that is:
In my experience the most hardcore southern person/redneck tends to have the Bush/Cheney sticker right next to the Confederate flag on the ol’ pickup. Of course that is a total generalization, but I am thinking he is pandering-ahem-I mean trying to show that he is for everyone not just the traditional democrats. That is a guess. I, being southern, am not at all offended by that. If anything, it made me lose respect for Dean because it shows he is not above kissing ass for votes. But…of course, that’s the political game.
He never said all Southerners have Confederate flags, only that he wanted the votes of those who do. No stereotyping there.
The other candidates reacted predictably. I thought John Edwards was going to pull a muscle from trying so hard to feign offense. I wasn’t offended by what Dean said - notice he only said he wanted to represent poor whites who have Confederate flags, not that he supported what the Confederate flag stands for. What I was offended by was the reactions of the other candidates, which indicated that not only did they wish to register their opposition to the Confederate flag (boy, they’re really courting controversy), but they also wished to make it clear that poor whites who display the Confederate flag deserve no representation and have no interests that might be in common with the rest of the Democratic electorate.
Dean’s comments were a master stroke of campaigning - finally a Democrat understands the Republican “southern strategy” and how to poke holes in it. The fact is that the black vote, while occupying a special place in relation to the Democratic Party’s values, is numerically small and can be taken for granted by the Dems, short of Dean putting on a white sheet. On the other hand, poor, alienated southern whites who have lately been voting Republican can be swayed if the Democrats explain to them how Bush et al have been screwing them sideways.