Politics in the twentieth century; Whither Dixie
The National Association of educational broadcasters welcomes U2 with or Dixie an examination of the forces reshaping southern politics. One in a series of discussion programs titled politics in the 20th century produced and transcribed by the Community Education Project at San Bernardino Valley College. First you'll hear Samuel Lubell political analyst journalist and author speaking from his study in New York and calculating some of the forces that are remaking the American political scene. Next you'll hear a group of foreign experts and scholars picking up the discussion at the Department of Government seminar room at promoting College in Claremont California. The group will be led by Dr. Charles Nixon political scientist University of California Los Angeles and will have as its regular members Dr. Frank Lee sociologist University of California Riverside and Dr. Lee MacDonald a political scientist from own a college. We have as our special guest today Mr. Gladwin Hill correspondent New York Times Los Angeles and now here is Samuel bell as recorded in New York.
Almost everywhere in the south today one sees evidence of economic and social revolution. Cattle graze in fields which once were devoted exclusively to cotton and tobacco tractors chug past abandoned tenant shacks dramatizing the fact that machines are at last freeing the south from its ancient dependence on cheap subservient hand labor. Each tractor replaces from two to five families each mechanized cotton picker to harvest as much cotton as 20 to 30 hand pickers in the southern cities where the people displaced from the land moved to the pace of change seems equally hectic. Since the war's end. Hardly a day has passed without one or more new plants being opened and some one of the 11 Southern states between 1940 in 1952 alone bank deposits in the south quadrupled and average incomes tripled as roughly a million new jobs were created in manufacturing
employment and another million new jobs in trade. Now revolutions are supposed to sweep aside the old order and to usher in a new scheme of things. But the revolution reshaping Dixieland has been making the south more not less conservative politically. The march of industrialization has not brought any appreciable increase in the strength of organized labor. If the economic lot of the individual Negro has improved in the Deep South at least seems to be startling in its determination to maintain segregation. What is a stake politically in this conservative revolution which is sweeping the south. Essentially it is a struggle of unification versus separatism. It is a conflict between the forces which are pressuring the south towards political unity with the rest of the country on a two party basis and those forces which are
tugging hard to keep the south separate and solid from the rest of the nation. To follow this struggle as it unfolds in the years ahead we should keep in focus the two streams of political protest which dominate the south today. One is economic. The other is racial. It is from the economic changes that the main pressures for unification with the rest of the country are coming. The process can be seen best in the cities particularly in the newly developing urban middle class the young lawyers doctors merchants and businessmen in the main these rising middle class elements look to industry and business for the South's future. Their political views are no different from similar business minded aliments and northern cities. The one difference is that living in a one party democratic state their votes are thrown away and a custom merchant explained why he voted for Eisenhower in one thousand fifty two. We were paying all these taxes he said.
We wanted to reverse the trend in Washington. The only way we could make our anger felt was to vote for a Republican president. After the 1952 election I pulled in the vote by precinct for 13 southern cities in each of these cities. The silk stocking and suburban precincts cast from 62 to 80 percent of that vote for Eisenhower. This was not too different from similar areas in the northeast. Nor is this stratification of voting by economic status confined to upper income Southerners. In each of these cities the lower down the income scale one goes the heavier the Democratic vote becomes. The revolutionary significance of this fact. Is that this is the same voting cleavage one finds in all northern and western cities. As far as the cities of the South are concerned the basis for a real two party politics already exists. But what about the racial pressures in
the border states. The Supreme Court's decision seems to be bringing about a gradual and to segregation in the schools. But in the deep south public opinion is being mobilized to prevent any crack in the racial solidarity of these states. The possibilities of a gradual evolutionary change in race relations are no longer even talked about in many parts of the South. As long as the south remains a nation apart racially. No clean cut political realignment. On a two party basis is possible still a return to the old one party rule of the past is not likely either to impose and hold a solid racial front. The racial extremists want to maintain a one party monopoly but if they settle back to where the South's allegiance to the Democratic Party can be taken for granted these racial insurgents have no means of countering the political influence of the negro in the north.
My own feeling is that before a two party system emerges in the south we will see a transition period in which Southerners will try to defeat the Democrats nationally but without giving up one party control locally with a Republican in the White House. This need for a third party or Republican bolt tends to decline. But whenever the Democrats win the presidency the famished out of insurgency would be likely to rise. Apart from these immediate political prospects what has been happening in the South should cause all of us to discard the old assumptions which have colored on thinking about the south for so long. Twenty years ago for example many people contended that the solution to the south racial problems was to lift her out of poverty. But the mechanisation of Agriculture and the spread of industrialization have made the Negro a less important economically and have tended to push him out of the south's economy. When the Wright primary was
opened to Negroes liberals hailed it as a great victory. But the registration of negroes in large numbers only spurred a heavier outpouring of anti negro Godas. Ever since negroes began voting in the south liberal candidates have had a tougher time winning. That's was Mr. Samuel Lubell recording in his study in New York. Now let's continue our discussion of the forces reshaping Southern politics as we join our scholars and our guest in Room Six Department of Government at the Moana college here is Dr. Nixon. Gentleman you heard Mr. Little Bell's analysis of the developments shaping up in southern political life today. I'm wondering how they strike you. Mr. McDonald as a political scientist what impresses you particularly about what Mr. lvalues had to say. Well I think Mr. LaBella is an emphasis upon the mechanical revolution in the industrial revolution in the south is very appropriate very significant. And I'm not quite sure what he means by this word
conservative revolution is the South really stiffening in its determination to maintain segregation certainly among some groups this is the case. But I wonder whether in the long run. This can be called a conservative revolution or perhaps a liberalizing revolution. Mr Lee is a sociologist. What impresses you and Mr Lubell this analysis. I was particularly caught by one of his concluding remarks in which he talks about the fact that the increasing industrialization of the South has made the Negro a less important economically speaking. I think this is true in a certain sense but I would also like to point out that at the same time that this might be true that the economic importance of the Negro has been growing in terms of his buying power and therefore he is able to wield greater influence than he has at other times in the past history of the South. Mr. Hill as a reporter for The New York Times you've recently spent
considerable time in the south and reporting on conditions which are shaping up there does Mr. the balance analysis strike you as a legitimate one. I think so I have a few qualifications on his emphasis on some points. For instance I think on this question of the South's stiffening in its determination to maintain segregation that certainly is true. But I think that stiffening is a very transitory thing in the main conclusion of the New York Times survey of the South made this spring was that segregation is doomed and most of the dozen reporters who were down in the south on the survey concluded that most of the people in the South Deep down in their diets are in the back of their minds are convinced and know that it is doomed it's only a matter of time. So if you
withdraw that that factor from the situation in other words if you have a. In the near future I grade a degree of integration that is going to have a tremendous impact on the interaction with all these other factors most of OBL mentioned. Do you mean that Southerners accept the idea that segregation is doomed in the south. I think even Knaus who seem verbal most in finance are against it realize that in the back of their minds because they won't be try this repeatedly in a conversation by such references as saying a legal challenge is that they are erecting a legal barrier as well fend off integration for 20 or 25 years that is the longest figure I've heard. Well you can see that even
there is a presumption of eventual capitulation and I think their guess of 20 to 25 years is as optimistic and subjective and that actually will be a lot sooner. Well if this is true how do you square this with new bills closing statement that ever since the negroes have been voting in large numbers liberal candidates in the south have had a harder time winning. I'm wondering if. This suggests in that the liberals are being squeezed out of the situation is really a long time trend in the South or whether this is a short time reaction to the thrusting of the school segregation issue into the forefront of Southern consciousness at the present time. In this context I'm wondering if the might say the liberal Southerner hasn't been squeezed out of the issue is this a permanent squeeze out or is this a temporary and a No basically a short term reaction to the changes which are occurring and I wonder if the liberal has really been squeezed out or whether the
Liberals have been forced to pay lip service perhaps to some of the older symbols that they had forgotten about a little bit earlier. So I think there are several basic facts we should recognize in a situation one is that there are real liberals and a few and far between. Organized labor is one of the principal conspicuous liberal elements. Another factor in this negro voting is that while Negroes now can vote in many parts of the South their vote is not large enough in most places to arouse apprehension on the part of. What you might call a conservative anti immigration whites. Another point is that the for various reasons this integration and segregation issue has not shaped up as a partisan question and the sum of some of the reasons are
historic. For instance it's anyone who's studied southern political history knows that the greatest and most most rabid you might call a segregationist and most rabid anti negro people. The historic figures I Senator Theodore Bilbo Senator James J vitamin Representative John Rankin all Oklahoma used a racial question purely for political capital and well-recognized fact which is now in the textbooks and acknowledged by everybody in the south south is now becoming a long time has been aware of this so that in a recent set in political campaigns the tendency has been for more responsible candidates to exclude a racial issue entirely. On this day all you seem to be implying here seems to me. The
possibility of a coalition arising in the future which this non-discussion of the race question among many of the candidates is perhaps the first sign. In other words that we seem to have the possibility in the future here of the white lower classes realizing their economic interests and beginning to vote not so much on the basis of an emotional issue such as race but on the basis of their economic interests as manifested by their socio economic position in our society and therefore voting increasingly increasingly with the mass of negroes who also of course are lower class. I want to throw in another thing that I think is related to this you commented about the unions being supporters of the Democratic Party in the south but are the unions actually a significant force in the political life of the South today. I think it's related to this question of whether or not White workers in fact are voting along class and economic lines rather than racial lines taking the two things
in turn. A So far the. Indications and then with such negro voting as there has been that Negro people vote just like whites they don't vote along racial lines is a racial blot. Then came many instances of Negro candidates for office. Houma negroes and south rejected in fact for instance whites I asked many of them this spring when I had done they said because they thought the whites were more qualified so that betokens a division of voting sentiment as you suggested. On some other line of cleavage most obviously the economic line which is so important all over the country. When I bought the place of the unions I they had significant force in shaping up the south today. Well Mr. little bell notes here that they he says the march of industrialization has not
brought any appreciable increase in the strength of organized labor. That certainly is true. I'm pretty generally on the basis of union membership figures but I think that in the offing there is in the very near future there is a great increase in the strength of organized labor for this reason. The South is now in the process. As he noted of transition from an old agriculture ie agricultural economy to a modern industrial economy much of this industry has been lower than industry which has gone down south in search of lower wage levels. This has generally meant getting nonunion labor where the same firms had to hire union labor in the north. But an odd thing has been happening in the last couple of years down as these northern friends find that not having the union label on their products they have difficulty moving them in
northern markets have been cases of active boycotts I don't mean pickets on the streets budget. Strike mark until the boycott thing we're told by the jobbers and people on annoyance that they just weren't interested in their goods would not have been able to they have been going out in the last year I took and urging and nonunion workers to form unions. There always will be in the near earth for the next all quite a few years I think a great wage differential between Northern and Southern unionized workers but unionization will be increasingly stronger and therefore the idiology and political sentiments of labor unions will have more and more impact on the social situation. This takes us right back to Mr Lee's question about the possibility of lower income whites in the lower income negroes forming a common cause and voting together on economic rather than racial lines of course. What has prevented this in
the past has been often the introduction of the race issue almost extremist really here. It is by those who benefited by a one party system and by economic control to prevent each side from increasing wages and presenting of course along with this Republican strength from growing. Partly this is just a matter of inertia. Seems to me the well-known main street and city hall clique which is rule politics at the local level has been able to get privileges from one party control that they would not be able to get out of a two party arrangement. These same people often will vote Republican for the presidential elections while they maintain a solid front on the Democratic side in local elections. Where do you think it's possible to continue this kind of a process such as the ballot suggested that the Democrats would try and have the Republicans win and the national presidential elections but still try to maintain our one party
democratic control on the local scene as a workable thing over a long period of time. I don't think it's at all unrealistic to anticipate over a long period of time support for one party on the national level and another party at the local level after all this happens outside of the South. California has voted for Democratic presidents quite often even as they have maintained a solid Republican state governor. But I'm wondering if this doesn't happen in California and in other areas of the country if frequently because you have different people voting in the different elections and that generally speaking you have a much larger turnout in presidential elections and that the larger turnout is greater at the lower income levels which have been democratic in their affiliation and these people have simply not participated in the local elections and consequently had to get a different political result. But the notion of people consciously supporting one party at one level of government and another party at another level of government seems to me to be very dubious one over the long run. Will and one of the factors that seemed to me to
be related to this is that the studies that have been made of Southern voting in recent years suggest that the areas which have gone Republican are in fact areas constituencies counties districts which have an upper middle and upper class constituency the people who are the same kind of people who are Republicans in the northern sections of the country. And that actually what one is getting in the south is a shift over to a voting behavior which corresponds to the kinds of divisions of interest along economic lines which we find have been important in voting behavior in other parts of the country for the long for a long period of time. It seems to me what you've described will operate in the larger urban centers and especially areas where northerners have moved down to take rule and so than industry but in the smaller community level who are older folk will persist. This will not come about for some time. I think this urbanization. Mr Lou Bell's big seven that we have been
speaking of is a very important thing the south has been about the last stronghold of coral as an intensive royalist in the country. And you notice a curious coincidence that in Texas for instance in the 1950 census for the first time in history more of Texas population was urban and rural and it was only two years later that Texas jumped Democratic fence and went for Mr. Eisenhower for president. I don't think it was entirely a matter of Mr. Eisenhower's personal popularity because also in that same election they put in a Republican in the House of Representatives for the first time in a regular election in Texas sense in the last century. I suppose. Well this brings us back I think a little bit. Leaving this political aspect for a moment to this question which Lubell
raises about the decreasing economic importance of the negro in the south. Now certainly it's very clear that the Negro is economically less important than the South's rural areas that he has been in the past. LUBELL makes the claim that he has not been moving into industry to the extent that had been anticipated even five 10 or 15 years ago. What is the effect going to be in the south with respect to this question are they going to continue to encourage the migrate out migration of negroes in the effort to decrease the numbers or will they find that the only way they can get industry into the south is by not only unionizing but by introducing negroes in terms of a necessary labor force into these unions. I think you put your finger on an important factor right there at the present time. There is just about an even balance in the south between supply and demand on labor. There's no great shortage of labor and neither is there any great surplus no large amount of
unemployment. It's generally acknowledged that the South's future hangs on industrialisation insists on it because it's old agricultural economy is just going by the board it's being out competed by the parts of the country it's going to get this unionization. They're going to have to have the labor supply that's been the big attraction of the Northern industries. Also the Negro has increased purchasing power is part and parcel of the economic picture. Negroes constitute roughly 10 percent I mean roughly 25 percent of the population in the south out of 40 million people approximately there are 10 million Negroes you just can't pull out one person out of every four out of any county when it's falling apart the mortar in the bricks as it were. Well gentlemen it seems to me that in the course of this discussion there seems there is considerable
agreement to the fact that the thing which is shaping the political life of the South and which is of long run importance are the underlying changes in its economic life. That these will tend to produce a pattern of voting behavior which follows much more along the kinds of lines of one finds in northern communities and that the racial issue which has been raised immediately by the question of school segregation though it is a major concern in the south is not likely to be the basis for continuing a division between parties in the south and that consequently this may have something of a shorter term impact so far as party voting behaviors in southern states are concerned. I'm wondering if there are other questions or other issues that you see which are also of major importance here that perhaps we haven't touched on. Mr. McDONALD Well just in summary I think the stool bill has demonstrated a short increase in racial tension but I think that in the long run we'll see an ever
increasing break up of racial hostilities. But with this as perhaps we have suggested a slower political realignment due to the persistence of Folkways in the liberal conservative pattern. Not quite pro by the Northern parties. Mr. Levy you have other things that you see of importance here. I would like to just make one point which is somewhat related to Mr. McDonald's point namely the influence of non-southerners and the South's future. I think that we must realize at the same time there has been a great migration from the south both whites and negroes that there has been a an in migration somewhat selective possibly of northerners and that they are non-segregated mores are going to have a great influence on the future values of the South on this race question. Mr. HILL Do you see other things that are important in this picture. I think a very big factor in southern voting in the future is something in another field another category than these tangible
dynamics of economics and social day to day relationships we've been speaking of and that is. Southern regional pride which is so fierce you could call it chauvinism as in 1952 when government shivers in Texas shook his fist of the north and defied northern domination and led the state in support of General Eisenhower in effect he was waving the flag of the Texas Republican conjuring up the state's historic pride in the Alamo that sort of spurred probates the whole south and may affect its voting more race in the future in ways that are quite illogical with a by any standard yardstick. I thank you very much Mr. Gladwin hell of The New York Times for joining with us in this discussion today of the role of the South and the current American political
- Whither Dixie
- Producing Organization
- San Bernardino Valley College
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program discusses changes in the American south.
- Other Description
- This series consists of moderated panel discussions on American political affairs in the mid-20th century. It features Samuel Lubell, Professor Charles Nixon and others.
- Broadcast Date
- Politics and Government
- Media type
Panelist: Lee, Frank
Panelist: McDonald, Lee Cameron
Panelist: Hill, Gladwin
Producing Organization: San Bernardino Valley College
Speaker: Lubell, Samuel
Speaker: Nixon, Charles
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-8-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Politics in the twentieth century; Whither Dixie,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-348gjr35.
- MLA: “Politics in the twentieth century; Whither Dixie.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-348gjr35>.
- APA: Politics in the twentieth century; Whither Dixie. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-348gjr35