For some time, Ive wondered if the rancor in todays politics has some connection to the outcome of the Civil War. Sounds crazy, right? After all, the Civil War ended in 1865. Yet Teapublicans continue to say things that evoke the elitism and racism of antebellum America. Weve heard them refer to President Obama as a fascist, socialist and communist. Weve seen the signs showing his picture distorted to resemble the Joker. And were heard them call the President a Kenyan-born, anti-Christian Muslim.
Is it coincidence that such anger and disrespect are directed toward the first president of African-American descent? Doubtful.
Of course, Im not the only writer to note the obvious. For example, Michael Lind wrote, Today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority — predominantly Southern, and mainly rural — that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way. And Robert Reich stated, It’s no mere coincidence that the states responsible for putting the most Tea Party representatives in the House are all former members of the Confederacy. Of the Tea Party caucus, twelve hail from Texas, seven from Florida, five from Louisiana, and five from Georgia, and three each from South Carolina, Tennessee, and border-state Missouri.
Upon reading these comments, I knew I had to do my own research. Here’s what I found:
The Union consisted of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Of the 25 Union states, only three – Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri – voted for McCain in 2008! And its important to note that all three were divided during the war. (In both Kentucky and Missouri, pro-secession governments declared for the Confederacy, but never gained significant control of their states. And Kansas was notoriously split with many Confederate sympathizers.)
Now lets look at the Confederacy. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia all seceded from the United States. In addition, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma were divided, and portions of New Mexico and Arizona collaborated with the Confederacy. Of the 16 Confederate states, only four Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia – voted for Obama in 2008! And of those four, only New Mexico could be considered a blue state.
To take it a step farther, many of the states which attained statehood following the Civil War were settled by former Confederate soldiers and Confederate sympathizers who were running away from the federal government. These include Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, and Arizona. All nine voted for McCain in 2008!
Three other latecomers – Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington – already had significant populations prior to the Civil War. Both Colorado and New Mexico had large Hispanic and Native American populations that were indifferent to the war. All three of these states voted for Obama in 2008!
Hawaii and Alaska were not admitted to the Union until the 1950s, so little can be concluded from their votes, especially since President Obama was born in Hawaii and the VP candidate on the opposing ticket was from Alaska.
Despite Teapublican denials, it would seem that the issues of racism and states’ rights are gifts that keep on giving.