GOP obstructionism regarding President Obama's economic stimulus package is taking on a distinctly regional flavor. In a recent column on The Daily Beast blog, Michael Lind argues that Southern Republicans are a holdover from the old Confederate attitudes toward government and the use of public money for internal improvements. It was a losing philosophy in 1860 and it is poison for America in the 21st century.
The Republican congressional delegation is disproportionately Southern. Half of the four congressional leaders of the Republican Party are Southerners: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Virginia). (Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl is from Arizona and House Minority Leader John Boehner is a relic of the dying Midwestern wing of the GOP). The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mike Duncan, is from Kentucky. Half of the candidates for the RNC chairmanship are Southerners: Duncan himself, Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and Chip Saltsman, former chairman of the Republican Party of Tennessee. (The other three are Michael Steele of Maryland, Ken Blackwell of Ohio and, Saul Anuzis of Michigan.) If you think most GOP spokesmen on TV seem to speak with a drawl, you’re not imagining things.
In addition, a majority of the 11 House Democrats who voted against the stimulus bill are Southerners or from states that border the South: Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith, both of Alabama; Gene Taylor, of Mississippi; Heath Shuler, of North Carolina; Jim Cooper, of Tennessee; Allen Boyd, Jr., of Florida; Frank M. Kratovil, of Maryland; and Brad Ellsworth, of Indiana. (The other three are Walt Minnick of Idaho, John Peterson and Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania.) Congressman Boyd, a prominent Blue Dog Democrat, was the only Democrat to support President Bush’s bill to partly privatize Social Security, which he co-sponsored. Appropriately, his 2nd Congressional District in the Florida Panhandle near Georgia and Alabama includes Dixie and Calhoun counties.
Do you see a pattern here?