“The South” Rises Again

Then-Florida governor Charlie Crist embraces President Obama at a 2009 event. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

White Americans closed ranks in the midterm elections and put Hope and Change on hold for at least two more years. All the talk about changing demographics turning states like Georgia and Mississippi “blue” turned out to be just talk after all.

The much-ballyhooed Hispanic wave failed to wash away the legacy of generations. And it wasn’t because Hispanics did not vote. It wasn’t because black Americans did not vote.

The turnout among ethnic minorities was unexpectedly strong. But the American electorate is still more than 60 percent white. And that’s the whole story.

As the results came in last night, it was clear that hope for comprehensive immigration reform was slipping away, that voter suppression and other civil rights abuses would continue unchecked, that the cavalier disregard for women’s rights would be unabated, that students’ loans would be ever more unaffordable, that tradition and mythology would obscure science and enlightenment, that bigotry and religious quackery would triumph over compassion and justice …

Many of the seats being decided in the midterm elections were in the South, West and Midwest, and voters in those states showed their true colors. Not all voters of course. Many of the contests were decided by a razor-thin margin. But enough. Down went Allison Lundergan Grimes. Down went Michelle Nunn. Down went Wendy Davis…

And in Florida, where Sandra and I live, down went Charlie Crist (above, left, with President Obama).

It was North Florida that did Crist in. The Panhandle, which is spiritually part of Alabama, and the Jacksonville area, whose heart belongs to Georgia.  In those mostly rural regions, the vote was almost 100 percent for Rick Scott (above, right).

Yes Rick Scott, who paid a historically huge fine for Medicare fraud! That Rick Scott. The stand-your-ground Rick Scott. The Florida governor who slashed education and social services spending with utter disregard for the suffering and lasting damage his policies would cause.

But Scott is indisputably white – especially his shiny scalp. So white that – as Sandra says – he looks like someone from Mars.

Crist is white, too, but he is linked to Barack Obama, and, as Obama noted in one of his books, some white people believe that the color of his skin could rub off on them. It certainly rubbed off on Charlie Crist.

Yes, America – the part of America that went to the polls this time – is not ready for Hope and Change. But hope springs eternal, and the closeness of last night’s results is reason to keep hoping.

Change will come, whether America’s voters want it or not. We can only hope America changes for the better.

Click for more on the election.

Click for Scott’s victory.

Click for more on Crist and Obama.

Click for demographic breakdown of the US electorate.