Spoony ‘splains it all

David “Spoony” Atkins at Hullabaloney:

Why bipartisanship is dead

It’s hard to understand why the issue of disappearing bipartisanship is so baffling for most people. There are many structural reasons for it including increased transparency, coordination of interest groups, communications technology that allows for more effective and aggressive lobbying, and an ever-increasing influence of money in politics.

But by far the biggest is that the bipartisanship of the mid-20th century was a special artifact of the uneasy alliance between traditional urban liberal tribes and religious Dixiecratic populists in the South and Midwest. As I’ve written before, FDR was quite able to aggressively take on the financial and corporate interests of his time with a broad coalition. But he couldn’t pass an anti-lynching law without destroying his support base, and he was all too willing to institute the Japanese internment camps. In other words, FDR could take on the power of big money with ease, but he couldn’t take on the power of Big Racism.

The result of this dynamic was an uneasy bipartisanship between otherwise competing interests. Men like Strom Thurmond would vote for “socialist” policies as long as only whites got the benefits.

The advent of the Civil Rights movement marked the beginning of the end of bipartisanship. As tax dollars were increasingly seen as going toward non-whites, Dixiecrats became Republicans and allies of big business interests. Similar dynamics occurred with anti-Hispanic sentiment in the West. All the religious fervor that had been reserved for progressive social justice issues by the “Progressive” movement in the late 19th century (which included, by the way, quite conservative ideas like the prohibition of alcohol: late 19th century progressives would have strongly opposed modern liberals on issues like marijuana legalization alone…) flipped to socially conservative issues. The women’s equality movement only added further fuel to the socially conservative patriarchal fire.

At this point it was easy and natural for the racist culture warriors to align completely with the corporatists. The need for uneasy alliances disappeared. The rationale for men like Strom Thurmond to support New Deal policies and chat about them at cozy cocktail parties disappeared. The battle lines were set. The competing interest groups became neatly and sharply aligned, with only Ron Paul style libertarians having issues that cross party lines. If there’s any hope for bipartisan coalitions, it lies in Ron Paul voters. But there’s frankly not enough of them, and their ideas make the Washington cocktail crowd deeply uncomfortable.

Ironically, insofar as “bipartisanship” exists, it lies within the Democratic coalition itself. With the entire South and much of the Midwest lost for generations, Democrats were forced to turn to the traditional Republican base of financial elites like the Rockefellers in New York. Neither FDR nor Obama Democrats have been able to stand up to Wall Street money and the racist South simultaneously. FDR’s choice was to hold the South while taking on the power of big money. With America making the proper moral choice to begin the end of racial and sex-based discrimination in the 1960s Democrats lost the racist and sexist vote, leaving them little choice but to stand up to the racists while creating a compromise coalition with the power of big money (particularly in a post-Powell Memo world.)

See how simple it is?

The Democrats used to be the urban liberals and southern racists. And that created bipartisanship between the Republicans and Democrats. Then the Democrats dumped the racists so there isn’t any bipartisanship anymore.

Now the Democrats are the party of big money and liberals and the Republicans are the party of southern racists. The big racists who used to share a party with the liberals while being bipartisan with big money now don’t get along with anybody. Got it?

So Spoony explains why the racists left the Democratic party. But why did big money leave the Republicans? If the Democrats can stand up to either big money or big racism but not both, wouldn’t they be unbeatable together?

BTW – Isn’t Strom Thurmond dead? Cuz that would explain why he quit going to cocktail parties.

This entry was posted in Playing the Race Card, Racism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Spoony ‘splains it all

  1. Oswald says:

    Both parties used to be an ideological mix – some left, some right. That is no longer true.

    Not only that but cocktail parties aren’t common anymore, there is more turnover in Washington and lots of Congressmen and Senators fly home on the weekends so there is less time for socializing.

    • Oswald says:

      For a long time after the Civil War the parties were divided by region – GOP in the North and Democrats in the South. Eventually they realigned ideologically.

      For most of our history, partisanship was the norm. Just because there was a few decades of bipartisanship doesn’t mean is was ever thus.

  2. Lulu says:

    Gee, I remember when the Republicans purged the moderates out of the Republican party. Then the Democrats did the same fucking thing in 2008. Now there are no moderates in either party unless they like being called names. For some reason these weird moderate people, and old dinosaur liberals, call themselves Independents and they don’t want to go to either the Republican or Democratic assholes cocktail parties. Spoony got his start in analyzing tactics and strategy while watching the Power Rangers. Then he graduated to Scooby Doo.

  3. WMCB says:

    I do get really sick of this “ALL the racist Dixiecrats left and went R after the Civil Rights Act, because we holy Dems just wouldn’t tolerate them.”

    Its bullshit. There were 21 Democratic Senators who voted against the CRA. Know how many eventually turned R? ONE. Strom Thurmond. That’s it. The rest of those segregationists stayed D for decades, many well into the 90’s or until the day they died. As did Bull Connor and Wallace. And many of their states continued to vote for Democrats for ages as well. There are whole swaths of the south that never voted anything BUT Dems for congress well into current times.

    Note: I am not claiming that racists did not exist that went R. Sure they did. I am disputing the commonly touted “We Dems kicked all those racists out, we didn’t have any anymore!”. It’s a flat lie. Racists existed, quietly or not, in BOTH parties for years and years after the CRA.

    • Oswald says:

      Segregation ended decades ago. Southerners under the age of 50 grew up in a desegregated South.

  4. yttik says:

    Geesh! What an epic fail at explaining why bipartisanship is not happening.

  5. i have a spoonache now trying to comprehend his BS. As far as I am concerned, the selection of Obama was the biggest act of racism this country has seen in this generation. Because they voted for him for nothing more than the color of his skin- he certainly has no content of character. Using skin color as the basis of any decision is racism in my book.

    • insanelysane says:


      Yet the idiots that voted for skin color over substance and character are so very proud of their vote. They lord it over the dumb racists who actually took the time to research and understand the man beneath that melanin.

      • gxm17 says:

        Exactly. That’s the whole guilt-monger head trip. They get to patronize people of color, demonize “teh dumb racists” and feel superior to everybody. It’s an 11D win/win/win situation that exists only in their little pea heads.

  6. DeniseVB says:

    Politico muses over HBO’s BM calling Allen West an “ape”. Of course, it’s comedy folks, move along, nothing to see here …. 😛


  7. r u reddy says:

    I remain under secret permanent stealth-ban over at Hullabaloo. Perhaps some of the readers here might try leaving courteously worder comments of hedged demurral to the Atkins theory over there
    complete with links to this blog? Maybe some of them will make it past the “ghost-post” feature used to pre-screen every comment over there.

Comments are closed.