Some hope for us white men after all

If you’re a white person, and especially a white male, reading the polls gets more than a bit depressing: it appears that people like you and me tend to have no brains, no morals, and no self-respect, as indicated by their intention to vote for Slinky.

But it turns out this is a gross slander. It’s not all of us who are crazy: just the Southerners.

And if you’re a Southern white male voting for Obama, stand tall! You’re a credit to your race, gender, and region, and my hat’s off to you.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

23 thoughts on “Some hope for us white men after all”

  1. Well, suh, I was born south of the Mason-Dixon line, and I resemble that remark!

    To get more serious, “The South” is smaller than it seems, and thus crazier. I was indeed born south of the Mason-Dixon line. But Montgomery County, Maryland doesn’t really count. Okay, Maryland probably isn’t considered a Southern state by any demographer any more, although the Eastern Shore hasn’t changed all that much since the bad old days. But the same thing is true in points further south. Research Triangle, or Austin, or much of Florida, or much of Atlanta: none of them are all that Southern. Subtract away the uncharacteristic Southern entrepôts, and things are even weirder than Brad’s numbers indicate.

  2. speaking as a native texan who is also a lifelong liberal democrat i appreciate the compliment. my father, died in 2009, was such a man himself. like my father, as i’ve grown older and more experienced (i’m now 51) i’ve become more and more convinced buy the evidence of my experiences that the republican party in particular and what passes for conservatism in general have become a dead end cult that is the moral equivalent of hiding in a cavern and rolling a boulder on top of the entrance so no one can get out alive.

  3. The South was on the wrong side of history regarding slavery.
    They are on the wrong side of history regarding global warming.
    It’s who they are. It’s what they are.
    Being on “the wrong side of history” IS in their regional DNA.

    What we have is a very small region causing outsized damage because (and only because) it is embedded in the world’s most powerful country.
    Think of Mississippi: The most obese people on earth are also the most conservative people on earth; are also dead last in education, and first in global warming denialism.
    But they get two Senators too. Both of which are more powerful than many of the world’s prime ministers.
    What is true for Mississippi is true for all Southern Senators: All will veto any legislation on global warming…

    So it is what it is:

    We are in a second Civil War which is holding back the global war on global warming.
    I favor the solution of allowing the South to succeed.
    The rest of the country has the will power to deal with carbon cuts and amelioration plans.
    The South is an anchor, a brake, a backwoods that needs to be cut loose…

    It’s really a twofer:

    1) The rest of the country will zoom ahead and prosper just like it did when they cut themselves loose before…
    2) The ocean are going to rise even with massive carbon cuts because of the lag in the system.
    Global warming’s effect on The South will make Sherman’s March look like gay pride parade in petticoats and pumps.
    Having cut them loose our tax system won’t have to bear the brunt of that burden.
    They will get exactly the government their regional DNA insists on, and not one half-cent more…
    And the rest of us will prosper despite the warming…

    1. Minor nit: I believe you mean secede rather than succeed. I don’t want the South to succeed in its obstructionism.

  4. I’m a white male living in Georgia who’s voting for Obama. Oh wait, I’m also Jewish. Never mind.

  5. I wouldn’t let Northerners off that easily. You’ll notice Romney is ahead of Obama in the West and Midwest as well, regions which have had little or no history of slavery and have never been considered culturally Southern (except for Arizona and New Mexico to a limited extent). Plus there is an enormous gender gap, so if you specifically want to talk about white *men*, the picture looks much worse. See for instance Nate Silver’s analysis of it:

  6. Mark, unless I misremember you’re living and working in Virginia this year, as a visiting professor. Did you take the opportunity to register to vote in a swing state?

    1. Need you ask? I plan to vote in person tomorrow.
      But, like gib above, I don’t really count.

  7. As a native Southerner from native southern stock I resent the over-characterization and stereotyping, Mark. There are plenty of Southern progressives and liberals.

    I can’t deny that the South is giving the nation problems politically and demographically, but I want to point out it’s not all Southerners (or all white Southerners) and it’s not confined to the South.

    The vein of cultural and political misanthropy and sociopathy that you fairly point out is present to greater or smaller degrees in most every state.

    Key example? Romney, who is a pretty gross specimen of a cultural non-Southerner.

  8. my wife’s family have been in NC since the 18th century, and their knocking on doors for obama.
    they’re methodists tho’, so they’re all liberal like.

  9. I think it is good when we can talk about our cultural and gender differences. They are real (if amorphous and not necessarily tied to anyone’s actual body). I think it is also more helpful if the rest of us point out the great things about Southern culture too, and encourage people to keep those, and get rid of the dead weight. Music, literature, cooking. A general spirit of rebelliousness, which if properly aimed, might be good? But this is all just an outsider talking. I’ve never even been there.

    1. Well you raise a good point. Do you have to have lived somewhere to have an opinion on its culture, and if so, how long is required? All I know is, I like bluegrass music and I have a desire to try different kinds of barbecue, which if I ever do get down there (during cooler months, natch), would be one of the main motivations. I admire people who have good manners. I love almost all accents.

      And these are just the cliched sort of things. All’s I’m saying is, with so much that’s truly admirable, why do people want to fly Confederate flags? It is hard for an outsider to *not* find that to be a little crazy. Pardon me for saying so.

      1. Honey, the last two confederate flags I saw flying were in the Mohawk Valley of lower New York State, and that was in August. I don’t mean to be harsh, but the aspects of Southern culture you mentioned play little to no role in various areas of the south; it’s not a homogeneous region, and your knowledge of it, forgive me, seems drawn from cast-off Hollywood screenplays.

        You don’t have to have lived somewhere to have an opinion on its culture, but whether that opinion is of any value whatsoever is another question — and to opine openly on ANY culture without a firsthand, or extensive, knowledge on it is a decidedly fraught endeavor.

        Especially if there are persons from that culture in the room.

        1. give him a break. some of those aspects do play a role, despite the heterogeneity of the region. you might quibble that texas isn’t truly a part of the south but it went out with the rest of the confederacy and i’ve seen way too many confederate flags with the banner “heritage not hate” plastered beneath them to downplay the ubiquity of the flag in the region. i, too, find flying the flag of slaveholders and reactionaries to be more than a little crazy. to put it another way, i don’t think ncg’s opinion is quite as valueless as you seem to say.

          1. I certainly wouldn’t go to Latin America or New England or any other region of the world and tell them what they’re like, or helpfully point out the good and bad aspects of their culture that I had read about.

            This is basic stuff, folks.

  10. I don’t see anything in any of those numbers, even the northeast, to crow about. very embarrassing, very depressing. It must have something to do with the Y chromosome and the reptilian brain dominating poorly developed prefrontal cortexes.

  11. Another white male who will be voting for Obama tomorrow in Atlanta (dressed as blue as I can be without getting sent home).

    Although I’m not a “native” Southerner, I’ve lived 2/3rds of my life here. I appreciate and second Betsy’s comment and particularly resent koryel’s ugly and intellectually lowbrow comment. IMHO, you can’t really call yourself a progressive unless you’ve spent a good chunk of your life pushing against the tsunami of gleeful ignorance so common in the power halls and neighborhoods of the South. Careful what you wish for, koryel, you may succeed in getting the South to secede from the nation again but they can’t secede from the globe. Change is possible and present, albeit slow and generational. Sorry we’re not moving fast enough for you. Wanna lend a hand?

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