Saturday, June 4, 2016

Posted on Quora: Is being a Democrat in the Southern states frowned upon?

Yes. I lived for 6 years in Florida, certainly a Southern state, although some say it’s not a “deep south” state. That’s only because it is large enough to have several different communities. I was very much interested in helping Obama win the state in 2008, so I canvassed neighborhoods for him door-to-door. That was an eye-opener. Every one of the names in my first neighborhood belonged to a black person. This may not seem strange, but Florida is so segregated that you will not see a black person in a white community.

This comment does not concern Southeast Florida, where there are plenty of non-whites. But in West Florida, where I lived, there was hardly a dark face to be seen. The latinos who collected trash lived 20 miles away. I don’t blame them. One of my most disturbing recollections came during that election when a bunch of our neighbors, some of whom we knew personally, ambushed us at a crosswalk shouting tea party slogans at us.

I personally believe that anyone who admires the tea party is a sucker looking to be fleeced, as Trump’s success in the current election cycle has proven. But these elderly white folks aggressively approached my wife and I at a public intersection. Apparently they believed that everyone who lived in our small town was a Republican. Perhaps they were right. There was a Democratic campaign headquarters in a house near ours, but we never passed by when it was open. I twice tried to attend announced Democratic committee meetings but on neither occasion was I able to find the address advertised on the announcement.
I did attend a focus group for “Democrats”, but found it was being trolled by a libertarian who wanted to talk about shutting down the federal reserve board. It was the first time I had been confronted with anyone who believed we should go back on the gold standard; I had no arguments to answer him with. When I suggested that we should discuss legalizing marijuana, one of the ladies was shocked, as if I had proposed legalizing armed robbery, or inter-racial marriage. There were no blacks at that meeting.
In my travels around the state, I discovered 2 segregated black villages. One was on a back road, far from any city. Suddenly, there were blacks all around us, with black stores and fast-food chains. Then I was back on the white road, where nary a sign of blackness could be detected. The other black neighborhood was in Gainesville, site of the University of Florida. I stumbled on the black district by accident while visiting a state park. The nearest neighbors to that district were about 200 alligators, so it was clear why no whites ever lived there. The park ranger told us that the alligators were getting birth defects from the birth control pills the white college students used. I had never heard this particular fantasy before and had no way to argue against it.
For the most part, though, I kept my mouth shut, even if I did have good arguments to use. While touring one of the few plantations in Florida, I listened dumbly as the guide explained that southerners opposed abolition of slavery because it would be an economic loss to them, just as if they had been forced to give away a cow. I’m sure she was correct, but I would have liked a few words on the monstrosity of the institution of slavery. Crickets. The slave quarters had all been torn by when the plantation was renovated by the Daughters of the Confederacy.
The creed of southern whites is silence. Never mention racism. Never report any racist activity. Never talk to any blacks. Their intent is to convince the northerners that racism in the South has been abolished. The only thing that has been abolished is talking about racism.
So yes, being a Democrat in the South is “frowned upon.” The Democratic Party is so disorganized that the last election for Governor featured a Tea Party Republican vs. a Republican who had changed his registration to Democrat. The Democrats were not sufficiently organized to get one of their own on the ballot. Not surprising when I couldn’t even find the Democratic Committee HQ for my county.

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