Politics

01.02.13

The House Vote and the Battle Cry of Freedom

From John Judis in TNR, fascinating regional breakdown of the House vote:

All in all, 85 Republicans voted for the Senate resolution and 151 voted against it. The opposition was centered in the Old South. Southern Republicans opposed the measure by 83 to 10. The delegations from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina were unanimously opposed. As one might expect, the bill got support from five Florida Republicans, including Republicans from Cuban districts.

Republican House members from the East and the Far West strongly backed the Senate resolution. In the East, House Republicans were 24 to one in favor, with New York and Pennsylvania unanimous. In the Far West, Republicans voted by 17 to eight in favor. The Midwest was split, with 27 against and 21 for, with Michigan and Illinois in favor, and Ohio, the Speaker’s state, against 7 to 6.

I'll do the math for you. Take out the Confederate States of America and the House Republicans actually backed the compromise by a 62-36 margin. Not. Even. Close, in other words.

So I was more right than I even knew when I wrote "A Confederacy of Madmen" the other day. The South is out of step with the rest of the country and yet routinely and repeatedly holds us hostage so that somehow our national political priorities and values reflect Southern beliefs and mores far, far more than they ought to.

But over time I think the South will make itself less relevant and powerful if it keeps behaving this way. As it becomes more of a one-party state, it becomes less of a factor. Barack Obama doesn't have to worry about the South when he endorses gay marriage, because he knows he's not topping 40 percent down there anyway. So the rest of us keeping moving forward. The South can block some things, but eventually even that power will wane. It's a close call as to whether it will happen in my lifetime, but I do hope to live to see the South totally marginalized in American politics. It will be a fine day for this country.