I'm so excited to have my friend and fellow writer, Craig Carter, here today. He writes, among other things, a weekly editorial for the Argus Observer.
EXPRESSING FREEDOM by Craig Carter
Here’s something interesting. According to the US Census and the Centers for Disease Control, the five fattest states in the country are also the five poorest--Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.
How can people be fat and poor? Well, it’s partially because overly processed, fatty food is plentiful and cheap. Which means poor people don’t starve to death in America. They die from obesity and nutrition related ailments. Plus, Southerners traditionally eat a lot of fatty, fried food.
It’s also interesting that these five states are the center of the college football universe. Yes sir, each of these states can boast at least one huge college football stadium and multimillion dollar facilities and yet, the states the stadiums are in are poor and fat. Speaks volumes about priorities, doesn’t it?
However, I’m a politics geek, so what I noticed is without exception, voters in our nation’s fattest and poorest states vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. (What do you call a Democrat in Mississippi? The quietest person in town.) This is especially interesting because Mitt Romney was pretty much talking about these states when he made his now infamous comment about the “47%.” And yet voters in those states wouldn’t vote for a Democrat if you held a gun to their heads.
Now, my parents, who were FDR Democrats, always told me Republicans were the party of the rich and privileged. And if you listen to liberal pundits, you’ll hear the same argument. But Southerners voting predominately Republican kinda blows that theory out of the water doesn’t it? Well, as it is with most things political, it’s really not that simple.
You see, the reason Southerners vote predominately for Republicans is because a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, foisted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on the South. Before that, the South was every bit as partisan for the Democrats as it is for Republicans now, because Southerners didn’t like a certain Republican, Abraham Lincoln, who also kinda forced federal policy on the region. (Which is to say both Johnson and Lincoln dragged the South kicking and screaming into the real world, and Southerners held (and hold,) a ponderous political grudge.)
But here’s where the plot thickens. Had it not been for Republicans, LBJ wouldn’t have been able to pass the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, because those 2 pieces of legislation caused southern Democrats to switch parties in droves, leaving LBJ to court and win the votes of Northern Republican senators and Congressmammals. (Many of whom later switched parties.)
There are many lessons to be learned from such political history, but I’m neither smart nor astute enough to reach a single, unifying conclusion here. I just find the way free citizens choose to express their freedom incredibly interesting. You can draw whatever conclusions you wish.