July 6, 2020

RECONSTRUCTION:

Democrats, Biden Look to Accelerate Southern Political Shift (Associated Press, July 06, 2020)

From Mississippi retiring its state flag to local governments  removing Confederate statues from public spaces, a bipartisan push across the South is chipping away at reminders of the Civil War and Jim Crow segregation.  

Now, during a national reckoning on racism, Democratic Party leaders want those symbolic changes to become part of a fundamental shift at the ballot box.  

Many Southern electorates are getting younger, less white and more urban, and thus less likely to embrace President Donald Trump's white identity politics. Southern Democrats are pairing a demographically diverse slate of candidates for state and congressional offices with presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, a 77-year-old white man they believe can appeal to what remains perhaps the nation's most culturally conservative region.  

"There's so much opportunity for everyone in this region," said Jaime Harrison, Democratic challenger to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and a 44-year-old Black man.

Decades of economic development have coaxed new residents to the area. That includes white people from other parts of the country, Black families returning generations after the Great Migration north during the lynching and segregation era, and a growing Latino population. Harrison noted that even younger native Southerners, Black and white, are less wed to hard-partisan identities than their parents and grandparents were.

"Sometimes we get held back by leadership that's still anchored in old ways," Harrison said. But "all of these changes are starting to move the dynamics in so many communities. ... That's not to say we're forgetting our past. But it won't be the thing that's dragging us back."

Posted by at July 6, 2020 3:02 PM

  

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