An article in yesterday’s New York Times concerned, of all things, recent historiographical revisions to the dominant interpretations of the late-20th century U.S. political realignment toward Sun Belt conservatism. Several younger historians see trends at work other than the “Southern Strategy” of coded racist appeals to disaffected white working-class voters.
The conventional wisdom, said Jacquelyn Hall, director of the Southern Oral History Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is that the general backlash to the civil rights movement “was exported out of the South to the rest of the country,” and that the Republican Party benefited from the shift. But she said a raft of new scholarship is showing “the strength of the Republican Party in the South is linked to the economic boom in the South.” Corporations moved down to the once-solidly Democratic South and brought with them traditional suburban Republican voters. Their interests matched up with a growing neo-conservatism in the North. “What’s going on is much more a regional convergence story as opposed to the South influencing the rest of the country,” she said.
Check it out if you’re interested.