Dirty South

In November 2022, when CNN – which one must note is largely a liberal northeastern organization which represents one particular brand of American politics – was declaring in their heads that Kevin McCarthy was going to be House Speaker, I added a caveat, which was that McCarthy would become House Speaker given that he made the concessions he needed to make to the ‘Trumpian’ or hardcore wing of his party. And today, not only does it appear as though CNN was wrong for wishing McCarthy into the House Speaker position in November without considering that McCarthy needed to make concessions to the Trumpian wing of the Republican party, but CNN never even televised the final results for the midterm elections, because what they conjured in their heads did not translate into reality. 

Thus, today’s House Speaker vote in Congress demonstrates that the Trumpian wing of the Republican party has in fact held the entire Republican party captive to its will as we move into the next couple of years. And not only does this scenario spell chaos and dysfunction from within the Republican party to a certain degree, but it also spells chaos and dysfunction for Washington as a whole, given that one faction within one political party is setting the rhythm and the organization of the politics and operations in Washington as a whole. 

In turn, the chaos, dysfunction, and polarization of Washington is being spurred “principally amid the parties’ most active antagonists, while the rest of the population mostly looks on.” Certain experts and scholars have “discerned a pattern of ‘depolarization’ among Americans when classified by age, education, sex, race, region, and even religion.” Those who are spurring the polarization in Washington are “persons who clearly identified themselves as political partisans.” It follows that “the American public is less divided than the political agitators and vocal elective office-seekers who claim to represent it.” 

And given that the current scenario of chaos, dysfunction, and polarization in Washington is arising largely as a result of one faction within one single political party – namely, the Republican party – one must assess how this one faction came to dominate Washington and in turn hold it captive to its will today. For one, there is the issue of regionalism in American politics between the ‘North’ on one hand and the ‘South’ on the other hand, and what many of us overlook is that the American South is the largest region in the United States, where approximately three or four out of every ten Americans live. The population of the American South grew by about 20 percent in the 1990’s according to certain estimates, and in 2002, the congressional delegation from the American South expanded from 125 seats to 131 seats. As a result, the American South is playing a greater and more active role in 21st century Washington politics than it did in the late 19th century or even in the 20th century. 

Moreover, the politics of the American South have become more complex and dynamic over the course of decades. The American South largely became a toss-up between Republicans and Democrats after the “Southern realignment” of the 1960’s. Once centered on the politics of culture and race, the American South has now transcended its single-issue politics and has become more complex and dynamic due to a variety of economic and social factors and “global changes.” It follows that the factionalism of the Republican South and the resurgence of the American South in national politics cannot be explained by one single factor, which means that also, no one can explain how Washington is now being held captive by one faction of one political party from one region of the country by virtue of a singular factor. 

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