States acquire political reputations, mostly justified. California is the home of the wingnut. Illinois is known for the Fix. How bad is the economy? In New Jersey the Mob just laid off 14 judges. That's from a Johnny Carson monologue dating from the Carter era.
Lefties proclaim Arizona both racist and kookie based on the passage of immigration and gun laws. The gun laws are the same as those of Alaska and Vermont, the immigration law resembles current federal statutes, and harsher ones already exist in other states but go un-enforced. Many on the left also claim voter rejection once of the King Holiday proves Arizonans are bigots.
Arizona voters were given two versions of the King Holiday. One left Columbus Day intact, one replaced it. Most Arizonans voted for one or the other, generally supporting the one having both holidays. Leftwing bigots maintained political correctness, voted otherwise, and both went down.
The keep-Columbus version passed next election. And I don't want to hear about stray Vikings or lost Irish. When Columbus discovered America, it stayed discovered.
South Carolina's rap was racism. John C. Calhoun, starting the Civil War, Pitchfork Ben Tillman, Strom Thurmond and a state flag with the Stars and Bars. I always wondered why they didn't just keep the Palmetto Flag. It was good enough for the guys who shot at Fort Sumter. All this kept their racist image present.
South Carolina Republicans just went a long way to permanently replacing it.
For years, Democrats preached the evils of the GOP 'southern strategy," supposedly designed to appeal to racist rednecks in the South who otherwise were electing racist Democrats. They tried to equate racism with conservatism, something that is demonstrably false.
From Woodrow Wilson's showing "Birth of a Nation" in the White House and his re-segregation of the American military, to Democrat candidates using a rooster wearing a "White Supremacy" banner instead of the donkey well into the '60s, from Alabama Gov. George Wallace standing in the school doorway to South Carolina Gov. Fritz Hollings promoting the Confederate flag, racism has been a major southern Democrat guideline.
So-called "southern conservatives" were nothing more than New Deal bigots. Like Al Gore's daddy and the Arkansas originator of Fulbright Scholarships, they were almost universally liberals on all but one issue – race. Even South Carolina's Strom Thurmond, who changed not only parties but apparently his mind about racism, was not that conservative a vote.
What changed the south to a GOP bastion was not an appeal to racism but two other major factors. One was the influx of Yankees and westerners (all three of my western daughters now live in the South) who brought conservative values with them. The other was an advanced economy that made those values more appealing to native populations than the handouts and bigotry Democrats represented. The Dukes of Hazard started MAKING cars.
In the June 2010 SC GOP primary, the GOP overwhelmingly nominated Nikki Haley, a woman of Asian descent for governor. Even more relevant, they nominated Tim Scott for an open U.S. House seat. Both Haley and Scott are proven conservatives with track records in lower offices, both were supported by local Tea Parties, and both won decisively over major opposition, Scott beating Strom Thurmond's son 2-1 in the run-off. Scott's election will make him not only the first black southern Republican congressman since Reconstruction, but the first black representing a district not federally mandated under the modern version of "separate but equal" for minority representation.
Haley and Scott were nominated in the deepest of Deep South states by the most conservative of Republican voters. Their victories destroy the lie that conservatism and racism have anything in common.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.