Southern Democrats

Synopsis

From the election of Jimmy Carter to the wide defection of Democrats in the South to the Republican ticket in the Reagan/Bush years, Southern Democrats have played a crucial role in recent American national politics. With the 1992 election of President Clinton, they once again occupy a place at the center of the American political stage. A timely examination of this important phenomenon in American politics, Southern Democrats traces the history of this influential regional faction and gauges the extent and nature of Southern Democratic influence in congressional and presidential politics today. Nicol Rae argues that the Southern Democrats remain a distinctive faction despite the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which initiated the end of the social and economic system that had previously bound them together. The only surviving political faction based on regional--rather than ideological--concerns, they have nevertheless evolved from being a deviant element within the party to coming closer to the national Democratic norm which is most apparent in civil rights issues. Drawing on interviews with many southern politicians and memoirs and accounts of past campaigns, Rae deals with the success of Southern Democrat and Democratic Leadership Council leader Bill Clinton in winning the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination, and reveals the changing role of Southern Democrats in internal party politics and national elections. He concludes with an overall assessment of the present and future state of this important southern wing of the Democratic party.