I have to disagree with Jamelle Bouie. Southern Democrats can’t sit around and wait for demographic changes to turn the South brown enough that they can win elections without white votes. They have to go aggressively after the white voter. I wrote about this yesterday. The recent paradigm for Southern Democrats has been the Blue Dog model. The model involved being a budget hawk on domestic spending while turning a blind eye to supplemental war spending. It didn’t limit itself to being conservative on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, but was relatively hostile to labor and generally pro-business on regulatory matters. In short, it was a form of self-loathing liberalism that offered the voters a Republican-Lite alternative to the nuttiness of Jeff Sessions or the rank hypocrisy of David Vitter. The advantage of being a Blue Dog in central Tennessee, for example, wasn’t that people there preferred the Democrats, but that it allowed candidates to raise corporate money. Without outside corporate money, it’s hard for a Democrat to raise enough money out of poor rural districts to compete with the party of big business and mega-churches.

This “centrist” strategy worked for a while, but the 2010 elections cut the Blue Dog Caucus in half. And it is doubtful that they can win those seats back using the old strategies. Democrats needs to figure out a way to finance their campaigns that doesn’t involve getting in bed with New York bankers and the Chamber of Commerce. If money were no object, it’s obvious what the Democrats would do. They’d draw a sharp contrast to the Republicans on pocketbook issues and become true champions of the southern working man. With nothing left to lose, they should go ahead and do this anyway. If they follow Bouie’s advice, the racial divide between the parties will just get worse, and the Republicans will respond by doing their best to set up Jim Crow-style obstacles to Latino voter registration.

We don’t need to exacerbate that trend.

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