Remember ol' Dixie
One of the quirks of American politics in the '90s was that though power changed hands in Washington a number of times, the region in power remained pretty constant. Washington, as Kevin Drum notes, was almost completely controlled by Southerners: Clinton, Gore, Gingrich, Armey, Lott, Bush, Frist, and DeLay.But in the past few years, Dixie has fallen out of favor in Washington, and fast. A blogger at the Economist -- and could the Economist please let their bloggers sign their names? -- recaps:
In 2006, things started to go wrong. Nancy Pelosi (California) and Harry Reid (Nevada) took over the top jobs in Congress. Then Barack Obama (Illinois) was elected president, and declined to balance his ticket regionally by picking a southerner.
But the Republican leadership shifted too. The party ran two non-southerners for president and vice-president in John McCain and Sarah Palin. The RNC is now run by a black Marylander, Michael Steele. The House minority leader, John Boehner, hails from Ohio. The whip's job has gone to Eric Cantor who, though Virginian, is an atypical southern Republican in being Jewish. Only Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), the Senate majority leader, is the stereotypical white Protestant southerner. His whip and assistant, John Kyl, comes from Arizona.
"I want my country back," has become a conservative-populist rallying cry. They have not truly lost their country, but have seen a wild swing of power north and towards the coasts.
Nor does the Republican South look ready to mount a quick comeback. The major candidates in 2012 look to be an Alaskan (Palin), a Minnesotan (Pawlenty), and a Bay Stater (Romney). Mississippi's Haley Barbour and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal might throw themselves into the mix, but the days when the region dominated either party's politics or seemed crucial to winning the presidency appear to be done.
November 5, 2009; 10:53 AM ET
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