Southern conservatives as America’s natural third party

If you’ve been hanging around this space since the GOPLifer days, you may see a lot of familiar themes popping up over at Forbes. It has been interesting to revisit some of these older concepts and place them in front of the audience there.

This time, as a bridge to some posts to come, a piece at Forbes revisits the notion of Southern conservatives as a shadow third party. A second look gave me a chance to trim what had been a particularly long piece. Hopefully its better in this layout. Interested in your thoughts.


  1. Pingback: My links from the week of 3/12 | seahawks500

  2. Chris – Interesting story from TX Monthly about the evolution of the Republican Party in TX from a pure business focus to social conservative issues, which is not coalescing in the debate over the “Bathroom Bill” (SB 6).

    Note the opposition to the bill: “Professional and amateur sports groups have threatened to cancel events in Texas if SB 6 passes, and some conventions already have cancelled plans. Some of the businesses that have signed a letter in opposition to the bill include Apple, Dow, HP, IBM, Intel, Visit Dallas, SXSW, AMD, American Airlines, LaQuinta Inns & Suites, Marriott International, the Plano Chamber of Commerce, and Richardson Chamber of Commerce.”

    1. This is the Devil’s bargain that Republicans accepted in exchange for legislative power and now it’s time to collect. As the article says, the last remaining bastion of sanity seems to be Speaker Straus, but let’s be honest, it won’t be long before an all-out effort to dislodge him as Speaker is undertaken, if it hasn’t already. When that happens, hold onto your butts.

      One can only hope that grassroots forces in Texas are using this time to its utmost.

      1. I can attest to an intense, growing resistance happening in Texas. I am working in one of the groups spawned by Indivisible. People are spending a lot of time and effort to lobby their legislators as well as their MoC. Protests, visits, calls, town halls (either with them or without them present), and actually giving up work days to travel to the state capital to be present on key days. This is a serious, well organized, committed effort and MoC and state legislators ignore it at their peril.

        Strauss is the smartest guy in the Legislature. He’s not bullet-proof, but I he’s the TX politician for whom I have the greatest respect. He’s survived many attempts at being usurped. It would be devastating to the democratic process in TX if he were defeated but I am hoping that won’t happen.

    1. This is the first of a two-part examination of DJT. It is worth your time. Just “how” does a person like this man become POTUS? “I suggest that he was elected less for what he promised to do than for what he was able to elicit in his audience. This is a tragic case where human fragility was turned on its head to produce one of the most absurdist moments in our history, a victory based on a fundamental misunderstanding. ”

  3. About ten years ago I visited my wife’s family in north Georgia. My mom in law took us to the local flea market. My ear caught a familiar sound. Negotiations being conducted in Spanish. Also there was the sound of Yankee dialects around me.

    The South and South West are being aggregated into a new people. The Old South so long defiantly Rebel is being assimilated the same way the Normans were. The people are intermarrying. You already see change in the the larger urban areas but it is spreading to rural areas. Most social change happens from the bottom up. As Reverend William Barber has said change the south and you will change the country. That is happening before our eyes. We are getting closer to critical mass. I still think Mr. Ladd is right in his political views, just off some on the timing.

    1. From past comments, I’ve gathered you live in the Orlando area in Central FL. I do not know much about FL, but you seem to be rather positive about change and that Orlando is becoming metropolitan with a distinct cosmopolitan bent. That conforms with the expectation I’ve had for some time that the South will eventually modernize and social change will occur. I’ve noticed that areas like Charlotte, Atlanta and the NC Research Triangle are becoming more like the other metropolitan areas in the US. I’ve been in Charlotte on business and did not feel at all out of place. And that is coming from a left-coast liberal. However, the pace of change seems to be awfully slow.

      The only time that I have spent any extended time in the South was from 1963-65 and that was courtesy of the military at Fort Gordon, GA and Fort Bragg, NC. That was a long time ago.

    2. If you want to change the South, Southerners have to be the ones to do it, just like how it was when it changed from single-party Democratic rule to single-party Republican rule. National Democrats have been arrogant for far too long, looking at the changing demographics and thinking that that’ll eventually bring them back into contention. They use that as an excuse to avoid talking to people and making the long strides necessary to build their base back up.

      TOP (Texas Organizing Project) is a great example. Chris linked an article about it a few posts back – – and one of the things that stands out is that many of the locals there, people who are otherwise open to the Democratic Party, feel like their vote doesn’t count and that even if they do, nothing changes. TOP is working hard to change that mindset and they’re getting some real results. Even as Democrats despaired on Election Night, the entire Houston area was flipped from Republican control to Democratic.

      Local efforts like that across the South could revolutionize what’s always been a single-party region and bring it in line with the rest of the country. Ironically, Trump may well prove to be the catalyst that’ll accelerate those efforts.

      1. Have you read potus’ budget? The austerity of the proposed budget, the illogic in terms of what it defunds not only potus’ base but America’s most fundatmental needs; the irreconcilable cuts of Republican priorities – political and constituency….The fact that this legislation is the product of all men but must serve all people….Make more sense now?

        Defined: “2. make (a person, idea, or piece of legislation) weaker or less effective.
        “our winner-take-all elections emasculate fringe parties”
        synonyms: weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, erode, undermine, cripple”

      2. EJ

        It’s interesting that “emasculation” is held to make things “effeminate”, as if the two are strictly polar opposites with no neutral ground between them, and if one decreases then the other must increase. Trump has been shown to lack certain admirable traits; therefore he must be a woman.

        I wonder if this is just a linguistic thing, or whether it reveals underlying cultural assumptions?

    1. Yeah.

      I’m really liking that conservatives are being confronted with the actual details of their own ideological arguments now, up to a point. It’s nice that individual people and politicians are taken aback and saying, “No no no, I didn’t mean THAT. THAT would be bad.”

      But I would rather not these lessons be learned in practicum, nor with the very real and tangible risks to actual, signed, enacted, and observed legislation. Right now instead of our government being divided between the party of ‘At least we tried’ and the party of ‘No,’ it’s divided between ‘Should we jump off this cliff or should we face the torches and pitchforks?’

      If I had faith and comfort in rationality, I could feel like we could depend on the government to face the torches and pitchforks. Politicians are smooth talkers… A few could get out and only some thrown to the jaws of those craving red meat. We’d be shaken, but we’d be fine. And the GOP would have to recenter and purge just like Chris kept predicting would happen in 2016.

      But the GOP has never done anything but double down, Trump is now actual factual President in office in real life, and many of these GOP representatives have not only been raised the majority of their lives under the decades of ideology of the GOP, but are of the freshman crop of obstructionists that replaced senior politicians in the last six years*, so don’t even know how to lead, write good policy, or deal with the consequences of it. To them, freediving might even seem fun.

      * This is not to say that they are younger. The majority of ‘Tea Party’ candidates were previously disenfranchised political wannabes who took advantage of anger and dissonance to gain power they were unable to attract before. Trump’s main campaign supporters were of a crop of edged out, unliked, squirrelly little confused artists that everybody told to fuck off a decade or more ago. Now they have top-level power across the entire political spectrum.

      Congratulations, America: you fell asleep at the wheel. Now our future depends on whether you wake up and swerve, which only has a chance of correcting course, or if you decide our nightmare is still relatively preferable to the waking life chance of seeing impact and you’d rather just let go of the wheel.

      1. Unfortunately, Americans tend to follow the easiest path until disaster strikes and then and only then are significant changes made. That may be the human pattern. That was the pattern that led to the Great Depression, then and only then were changes made. That was the pattern that led to the Civil War. The resistance to doing something about slavery was too great, so we just kept drifting until disaster struck. History will only reveal what will happen this time. I do have faith however, that we will eventually make the changes required.

      2. The ultimate “con” job…read today that 90% of Americans support a pathway to citizenship, yet we’re going to spend $12+ B on a wall? Why not build bridges, instead? Is it because it serves the purposes of the conservative elite better to divide the nation rather than unite it?

  4. It’s not just race. America is staring down the barrel of a religious revolution as well. Millennials are the least religious generation we’ve ever had, with fully one-in-four describing themselves as “atheist”, “agnostic” or “nothing in particular”, according to Pew Research. This is a stark uptick from previous generations that barely registered in double-digits and there’s no reason to believe this course will reverse itself.

    This, of course, begs the disturbing question. What do Southern conservatives do when their primary animating forces of race and religion have been cut off to them?

  5. “It has been interesting to revisit some of these older concepts and place them in front of the audience there.”

    I’m curious how the reception from outside this blog community has been. From my personal experience, having grown up in a small southern town to now being considered a “big city liberal” by my old family/friends, so much of your analysis resonates with me. How are you finding the reception from the broader audience that Forbes provides?

  6. Chris, ironically, I was thinking recently that I prefer reading your posts here on this blog than on Forbes, for the very reason that your Forbes pieces are a bit on the short side (I’m guessing you’ve been assigned a limited word count over there). I prefer the longer pieces you’re able to post here. I feel like your Forbes readers are cheated by not having access to the full, fleshed-out version of your thoughts.

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