Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race, and Leadership in the Twentieth Century

Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race, and Leadership in the Twentieth Century

Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race, and Leadership in the Twentieth Century

Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race, and Leadership in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

This edition of Politics in the New South takes the fascinating story of the transformation of southern politics during the twentieth century up through the present day and the virtual triumph of southern Republicanism. In addition to the obvious fundamental changes that have occurred in party politics, political leadership, civil rights and black participation in southern politics, the book also stresses strong continuities in the political culture. The distinctive "southernness" of the region's politics has been preserved in its basic political conservatism, despite a reversal of party allegiances.

Excerpt

Like so many other books written by academicians, this one grew out of the classroom. A transplanted New Yorker, I knew little of the South when I arrived in Florida more than twenty years ago. What I thought I knew was not especially pleasing. In many respects I had a traditional easterner's view of the South and things southern, that is, detached and slightly superior. Even eight years as a schoolboy in Houston did little to shape my views into more sympathetic ones. And they were altogether reinforced during the civil rights movement, which occurred while I was a college student in New York, and in which I participated in a modest way.

But when I settled in Gainesville, it rapidly became apparent to me that my preconceived ideas were wrong. Not that Gainesville was typical of the South; university communities are seldom typical of anything. Having an interest in state and local affairs and politics, I immediately began to observe, study, read about, discuss, and even involve myself in southern politics.

I was delighted with what I found. Here was a style and rhythm and substance of politics unlike anything I knew about; it could not have been more different from New York City and State, with which I was already familiar. True, much of it seemed baroque, deceptive, anachronistic, quaint, silly, even crazy. Issues were cloaked under clouds of smoke and magnolia blossoms, distorted by mirrors, and overlaid by history and myths. People kept talking about tradition, place, time, and family as if they were real and as if they were a legitimate part of political life. They were. I just had to discover how they fit together.

Fortunately, I had two professionally rewarding experiences that got me on the right track for understanding and appreciating southern politics. One was my first chair, the inimitable (and indomitable) Manning J. Dauer. He took me under his wing, and seemed to want to make me his southern project. He succeeded. Under his tutelage and guidance I learned, and . . .

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