The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance (Hardcover)
Pulitzer Prize-winner Cynthia Tucker and award-winning author Frye Gaillard reflect in a powerful series of essays on the role of the South in America's long descent into Trumpism. In 1974 the great Southern author John Egerton published his seminal work, The Americanization of Dixie: The Southernization of America, reflecting on the double-edged reality of the South becoming more like the rest of the country and vice versa. Tucker and Gaillard dive even deeper into that reality from the time that Egerton published his book until the present. They see the dark side--the morphing of the Southern strategy of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan into the Republican Party of today with its thinly disguised (if indeed it is disguised all all) embrace of white supremacy and the subversion of democratic ideals. They explore the "birtherism" of Donald Trump and the roots of the racial backlash against President Obama; the specter of family separation on our southern border, with its echoes of similar separations in the era of slavery; as well as the rise of the Christian right, the demonstrations in Charlottesville, the death of George Floyd, and the attack on our nation's capital--all of which, they argue, have roots that trace their way to the South. But Tucker and Gaillard see another side too, a legacy rooted in the civil rights years that has given us political leaders like John Lewis, Jimmy Carter, Raphael Warnock, and Stacy Abrams. The authors raise the ironic possibility that the South, regarded by some as the heart of the country's systemic racism, might lead the way on the path to redemption. Tucker and Gaillard, colleagues and frequent collaborators at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, bring a multi-racial perspective and years of political reporting to bear on a critical moment in American history, a time of racial reckoning and of democracy under siege.