The most obvious of the political facts of life facing the Southern Negro is the necessity of working within a one-party system. Under two-party conditions the electorate can be usefully analyzed as a stream of voters divided into two fairly distinct channels. Over the years certain crosscurrents develop as various groups shift from one party to the other, but only once in a great while is there a critical election that results in a major realignment and the clear dominance of one party or the other.1 In the South, Negro voters represent an almost entirely new stream in the electorate, but the importance of this new element is conditioned by the unique characteristics of the one-party system. In state and local politics, at least, there is only one channel, the Democratic Party; and it is so wide that there are usually significant different surface currents within it. In most Southern states, however, factional organization within the party is not established on any distinct continuing basis. Although the Southern electorate can occasionally be whipped up into a whirlpool of fury by a race-baiting demagogue, more often elections create only a shallow ripple of interest. Issues are muted, campaigning is personalized, and factional alignments are loose. Whether the immediate future will change this indifference remains to be seen.
To the extent that continuing factions within a one-party electorate do not take over the functions of our traditional parties, the one-party system is a major handicap to the Negro.2 Its effects can be traced through a number of stages. By its tendency toward a fluid sort of factionalism it makes balance-of-power politics impracticable,