One of the things that most of the national political media won't talk about is the fact that the Republican take-over of the South has been motivated by racism. The national political media likes to talk about how the South is culturally conservative and believes in a strong military. According to the national news media, the South going Republican is the result of these factors and not racism.
Well, here is what this analysis overlooks. The South didn't start going Republican until after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then, it started voting Republican big time. Did Carter and Clinton make inroads into the Republican domination of the Old Confederacy? Sure they did, but even now the base of the Republican Party in the South is made up of white voters. In fact, as Paul Krugman pointed out in a recent column, white voters in the South voted 62% for Republicans in the 2006 mid-term elections.
Why are we talking about the South, Republicans, and racism? Well, this article prompted this entry. As this blogger, a lawyer from New Orleans, points out the Department of Housing and Urban Development is planning to destroy thousands of low income housing units and replace them with nothing. Here is a quote from the blog entry:
Despite Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil War, HUD is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over 4600 public housing subsidized apartments and replace them with 744 similarly subsidized units – an 82% reduction. HUD is in charge and a one person HUD employee makes all the local housing authority decisions. HUD took over the local housing authority years ago – all decisions are made in Washington DC. HUD plans to build an additional 1000 market rate and tax credit units – which will still result in a net loss of 2700 apartments to New Orleans – the remaining new apartments will cost an average cost of over $400,000 each!
Now, why would HUD do this? Well, the author goes on to explain how racial politics, Southern Republican style, is driving this decision:
Republican interests are clearly not served by the return of all African-Americans to New Orleans. Louisiana was described before Katrina as a “pink state” – one that went Democratic some times and Republican others. The tipping point for Louisiana Democrats was the deeply Democratic African American city of New Orleans. Immediately after the hurricanes struck, one political analyst said “the Democratic margin of victory in Louisiana is sleeping in the Astrodome in Houston.” Tiny turnout by African-American voters in New Orleans in recent elections has led white Republican interests to calculate immediate new political gains. Demolition of thousands of low-income African American occupied apartments only helps that political and racial dynamic.
And who is blocking Democratic sponsored legislation that would require that HUD replace each housing unit destroyed with a new public housing unit? Why, none other than Senator David Vitter, you know, the guy who hangs out with prostitutes.