One part of the US that GOP members of Congress have grown to count on has been the south. People who live down here are conservative by nature and reject most of the liberal ideas which are put forward by the Democratic Party. However, recently I have noticed a change in attitude toward the GOP because of some of the decisions of President Bush. While I don’t believe permeate harm has been done to the GOP in the south, there are some definite stresses being placed on the party right now and these stresses could work to the benefit of Democrats if, and only if, the Democratic Party can find true slightly right of center moderate candidates to run in local and national elections.
The reason I titled this “Following Blind Faith” is because most conservative voters in the south were driven to the GOP by their religious beliefs. While Democrats have worked to create a secular society in the US, which places little importance on religion, Republicans have gone in the opposite direction. To regular rank and file voters in the south, religion is an important part of their everyday lives. From a very early age, their parents and local religious leaders teach kids many of the important lessons of the bible, like the Ten Commandments. President Bush is an honest conservative Christian and millions of people in the south will follow his leadership even though they might disagree with him on certain issues. I believe folks down here just feel comfortable with President Bush because he speaks their language and follows the same bible and religious belief system they do.
I just finished reading an interesting story on the CNN web site, which was discussing a new trend among southern women, which if true, should concern all members of the Republican Party. The past two nation election cycles have shown Christian women moving away from the GOP and President Bush in large numbers. While the political gender divide is pretty consistent in most parts of the US with women voting in higher numbers for Democrats and men voting more for the GOP, southern women have been noticeably absent from this trend until recently. When Republican Party leaders talk about the solid south, this trend of southern women voting in higher numbers for the GOP than their counter parts in other areas has allow the GOP to dominate politics in this region and give Republican’s a powerful base of support which is hard to defeat.
Put another way, if this new trend of southern women continues and eventually lines up with other voting women in other parts of the US, then the Republican Party will face a period of time, soon, when their solid south strategy might begin to falter. GOP leaders have used this solid south trend to their advantage now for many decades and while it may be weaken right now, I am not ready to announce its demise because of a few recent poll results. However, this should be and most likely is a concern for folks like Karl Rove who look at politics on a national level. No national political party can win and maintain control of a nation the size of the United States without the foundation of at least one group of people which are loyal and vote consistently for that political party.
I remember this solid south voting block was started during the term of President Reagan and has grown ever year since. In some counties, like my own, it is very difficult to get elected to a local office as a Democrat these days. Thirty years ago it was just the opposite and only Democrats won citywide and countywide elections. I wonder if political trends might be changing here in the south? Time will tell and future historians might look back at these days and see the big Republican hold on national power might have been stopped by a group of southern women who decided to go their own way, instead of following blind faith.