Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Next up on CBMurray's Book Club will be James N. Gregory's "The Southern Diaspora." I've been on a Great Migration kick over the last few weeks, having just finished Nicholas Lemann's "The Promised Land." In doing all this reading on the massive internal migration within the U.S., especially during and after WWII, one can't help but be struck by how much our recent political history has been shaped by the demographic changes that rapidly altered so many cities and states. New political alignments were able to emerge with the arrival of millions of new voters. As these groups brought with them their histories, cultures, and worldviews, the Democratic and Republican blocs were reconfigured. What is unique about Gregory's book--and I've only just started it--is that he looks at both the black and white migration (both massive in scope) that transpired during the 20th century.
I've never really read much about the white migration but, browsing toward the later chapters, its apparent that Gregory will use it to explain much of the rise of modern conservatism (a la "Nixonland") that arose in the mid-60's. Also, when we revisit Wallace's northern successes, we'll note that his votes came not just from white ethnics whose families had been established in the north for generations but also from whites who were just recently removed from the deep south. The heritage of many of these voters helps explain how someone like Wallace was able to establish support in places like Baltimore, Cleveland, and other northern industrial cities. As I start to pull data from the book, I'll make sure to post it.