We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Friday, March 8, 2013

The War Between the States - Round III

The Old South
About a month ago, Michael Lind published an insightful piece entitled, "The white South’s last defeat," subtitled, "Hysteria, aggression and gerrymandering are a fading demographic's last hope to maintain political control."  His thesis is that the real political divide in our nation today is not between right and left but, instead, between South and North.  The "Old South" (white, evangelical, & of British-American origins), Lind insists, has continued to exist down to the present and has successfully maintained political control of most of the states of the Confederacy.  Now, however, that dominance is increasingly threatened and has already been lost in Florida and Texas, which have become minority-majority states.  Other regions of the country have historically undergone this same process, and there was considerable political upheaval when they did.  Now, it is the South's turn.  Lind warns us that, "The demographic demise of the white South is going to be traumatic for the nation as a whole." He concludes, "But the old-stock Yankees in the Northeast and Midwest did not accept their diminished status in their own regions without decades of hysteria and aggression and political gerrymandering. The third and final defeat of the white South, its demographic defeat, is likely to be equally prolonged and turbulent. Fasten your seat belts." (The first two defeats of the white South were the Civil War and the civil rights movement).

If Lind is correct, his thesis suggests that we can look at the future in two related ways.  It looks like we should probably feel more pessimistic about the short-term and more optimistic about the long-term.  That's why we have seat belts—to keep us safe in dangerous times.  Let's just hope that our democratic institutions and habits of mind will be sufficiently strong to carry us through.  Amen.