Thursday, November 06, 2008

Is Tennessee the Texas of 20 or 30 Years Ago?

I can remember growing up in Texas in the late 70s and 80s when it was undergoing a shocking transformation as old populist Democrats (epitomized by the great Ralph Yarborough) were being replaced with a coalition--flush with new GOP money--of suburban Republicans and yellow-dog Dems who were threatened by, among other things, immigrants and the Spanish language. For the next couple of decades it seemed like Texas would never be anything but Republican.

Texas is starting to come back around now with Dems challenging the GOP at various levels, and the Lone Star State is toning more purple than red relative to other red states. With the growing hispanic population (integral to Obama's new coalition) joining liberals around Austin it may be a matter of time before Texas Dems flex their muscles once again. I wouldn't be surprised at all if an Obama run at a second term in 2012 was competitive in Texas.

It seems like Tennessee has now entered that same phase Texas did 20-30 years ago with a Democratic Party in retreat to a bunch of cultural warriors fed by GOP money. Let's hope it doesn't take Tennessee half a century to start cycling back around to a stronger and progressive Democratic presence. Thank God for Davidson County, where Obama got 60% of the vote with 70% of voters showing up to vote. At least there is some progressive island refuge in the regressive Tennessee backwater.

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