Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

How to get the South to love President Obama? Improved infrastructure from strong stimulus package

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Originally published on on Tue, 02/03/2009 – 12:11pm

Kentucky is not a fan of Barack Obama. Democrats went for Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Kentucky primary. John McCain handily won the state. And in a year where incumbent Republicans were losing, Mitch McConnell got to keep his Senate seat.

Oh there are pockets of people in the state who like Barack Obama. But Obama would have an uphill battle to win over the state.

But Kentuckians might be willing to change their minds in light of the current electrical nightmare scenario from winter storms. While several states were hit hard by the ice storm that swept through recently, Kentucky took the brunt of the storm.

Given that some residents may lose their power for three WEEKS, the people might be more interesting in this stimulus package if it works toward strengthening their infrastructure.

The need for the stimulus package to be strong and comprehensive, and the reason the GOP is fighting so hard on this, is that all parties realize that if Democrats spend money on the heartland, the heartland might swing Democratic.

Republicans have ruled the South for more than a generation. And what does the South have to show for that loyalty?

The estimated 1 billion gallons of sludge in Tennessee. Lack of salmonella testing at a Georgia peanut butter plant. This storm in Kentucky and other states. Depressed wages and few opportunities to make things better.

Even the automaker plants that are scattered through the South (there in great part due to non-union status and lower wages, further bringing the wage scale down in the region) are running into problems.

Democrats haven’t done as well because gun ownership and religious battles come across as more important than economic status in the region.

The Washington Post actually sent a reporter to Arkansas before the inauguration to take note of the South’s concerns under a President Obama. The topic was fascinating because the South has been in the political focus for the last 40 years, yet they needed to be comforted because, maybe, they might not be in the top spot anymore. (Where was the love from the MSM over the parts of America really ignored by Bush?)

The headline read, “Disconnected From Obama’s America.” Economically, they have been disconnected for some time, and they haven’t raised much of a concern. But when they think their guns might be taken away, suddenly they are worried.

But if an administration actually pays attention to their economic needs, the people in the South might start paying attention to the rest of the country.

Given the South’s sunshine, solar power would make a huge difference. Fixing the infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, would be a gigantic boost. Improving school buildings to raise education standards is measurable progress.

It’s easy to criticize the South as clutching to values over economics, but when you have a neglected region economically, where else should they turn? The Tennessee Valley Authority (despite its current issues) was formed during the Great Depression. Money was poured into the South to help the region during this horrible time.

And if Democrats can pour money smartly into the South, they could see some political benefit. But they shouldn’t do it for that reason. They should do it because we are all Americans, and if we start treating the South economically like everyone else, they might be more willing to be a part of things, a part of this country instead of retreating to visions of generations gone by.


Written by democracysoup

February 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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