publican presidential candidate BobrnDole was debating President Clinton.rnPerhaps “debating” is the wrong word.rnIn the awkward and disjointed style ofrndiscourse that now seems typical of GOPrnpresidential candidates, Dole was spoutingrnthe talking points his handlers hadrngiven him: “I think the basic difference isrn. . . I trust the people. The presidentrntrusts the government.”rnWoodenly, Dole cited the details ofrnthe infamous “Hillarycare” plan:rnWe go back and look at the healthrncare plan that he wanted to imposernon the American people: one-seventhrnthe total economy; 17 newrntaxes; price controls; 55 to 50 newrnbureaucracies that cost $1.5 trillion.rnDon’t forget that. That happenedrnin 1993.rnTrue enough, but not exacdy an importantrnissue three years later and not an inspirahonalrnvision, either.rnBut then, after some more of thisrnwonkish blather. Dole uttered the linernthat seemed the culmination of decadesrnof effort by Southern conservatives: “Irncarr a littie card around in my pocketrncalled the Tenth Amendment. Wherernpossible, I want to give power back to thernstates and back to the people.”rnImagine that: a Kansas Republican,rnspeaking before a Connecticut crowd,rnciting the Tenth Amendment and arguingrnthat the federal government shouldrn”give power back to the states”! Whenrnthe standard-bearer of the party of Lincolnrndeclares his faith in states’ rights, itrnwould seem that a revolution has occurred.rnAlas, the senator from Archer DanielsrnMidland didn’t mean a word of it, andrnthe idea that this big-government fossilrnfrom the Nixon era was the man to leadrna grassroots populist insurgency againstrnthe Beltway establishment was so absurdrnthat not even his aides and party henchmenrnbelieved it.rnStill, for all his humbug, the fact thatrnDole felt he could score rhetorical pointsrnby declaring fealty to the Tenth Amendmentrnwas testimony to the status of thernSouth as the electoral base of the RepublicanrnParty. More than 25 years after PatrnBuchanan and other top GOP strategistsrnmasterminded the “Southern strategy” tornwean white voters in Dixie away fromrntheir traditional allegiance to the Democrats,rna great shift has been accomplished:rnWhite Southerners are overwhelminglyrnRepublican in their politicalrnloyalties. The evidence is everywhere.rnIn 1990, Georgia’s congressional delegationrnconsisted of eight white Democrats,rnone black Democrat, and one white Republican.rnBy 1996, after redistrictingrnand the addition of an extra House seat,rnthe Georgia delegation comprised eightrnwhite Republicans and three blackrnDemocrats. Last year, a poll in Alabamarnfound that 80 percent of white males underrnage 40 considered themselves Republicans.rnBut, despite having won the steadfastrnallegiance of the majority of voters in thernnation’s fastest-growing region. Republicansrnhave still managed to lose two consecutivernpresidential elections —not tornmention engaging the ire of the chatteringrnclasses, most of whom have an instinctivernloathing for Southerners thatrnthey scarcely bother to conceal. In fact,rnto the university professors, think-tankrnwonks, and shout-show pundits who constituternthe neoconservative commentariat,rnany part)’ or candidate who could winrnthe votes of 80 percent of young whiternmen in Alabama is considered a threat torncivilization.rnSo, having carefully wooed the whiternSouth since the 1960’s, the GOP establishmentrnhas found a perfect role for itsrnnew allies: scapegoats. Whenever Republicansrnare disappointed at the polls,rnas they were in 1992,1996, and 1998, thernGOP’s failed strategists now place thernblame on those evil Southerners.rnThis “blame Dixie first” tactic wasrnmost clearly defined by ChristopherrnCaldwell in the June 1998 issue of thernAtlantic Monthly, which featured coverrnart of an elephant wearing an NRA caprnand a ball-and-chain and carried the caption:rn”Hostage to Dixie’s culture andrnNRA dogma, the Republicans are a partyrnin deep trouble.” Inside, in an article entitledrn”The Southern Captivity of thernGOP,” the Atlantic’s readers were treatedrnto a 12-page slur against the South,rncomplete with a cartoon of an elephantrnwearing a plaid shirt and an NRA cap,rndrinking a beer, and driving a pickuprntruck with a gun rack in the rear windowrnand two slobbering hounddogs in thernback. This, according to Mr. Caldwell,rnis what the Republican Part)- gained byrnits “Southern strategy”: the support ofrndrunken, gun-toting rednecks,rnCaldwell’s article epitomizes the left’srnanti-Southern prejudice:rnAs southern control over the Republicanrnagenda grows, the partyrnalienates even conservative votersrnin other regions. The prevalencernof right-to-work laws in southernrnstates may be depriving Republicansrnof the socially conservativernmidwestern trade unionists theyrnmanaged to split in the Reaganrnyears. .. .rnThe most profound clash betweenrnthe South and everyonernelse, of course, is a cultural one. Itrnarises from the southern traditionrnof putting values—particularlyrnChristian values—at the center ofrnpolitics.. .. Republicans have narrowlyrndefined “values” as the folkwaysrnof one regional subculture,rnand have urged their impositionrnon the rest of the country.. ..rnSoutherners now wag the Republicanrndog. How did the partyrnlet that happen?rnThis is the sort of “Bible-thumpingrnzealots trying to impose their values onrnthe rest of us” argument that one mightrnexpect to hear at an ACLU convention.rnWTiat’s interesting, though, is that Caldwellrnimagines himself to be a conservative.rnA senior editor at the Weekly Standardrnand a native of Massachusetts,rnCaldwell never really explains why hernviews the South as such a political liability.rnHe seems very concerned about “gayrnrights,” an issue on which he says “therncountry has moved leftward,” citing pollsrnthat show Americans “overwhelminglyrn. . . favor equal rights for gays . . . butrnthink gays are pushing their agenda toornfast.” Caldwell apparently wishes the Republicansrnto become stewards of the gayrightsrnagenda, to make sure it progressesrnat a speed that will not alarm the voters.rnwhile Caldwell makes a lot of noisernabout the NRA, the fact is that the “rightrnof the people to keep and bear arms” hasrnas high a level of support in the GreatrnPlains, the Rocky Mountains, and thernPacific Northwest as it does in Dixie.rnOnly in the Northeast and some otherrnhighly urbanized areas is gun control arnpopular issue.rnLikewise, Caldwell implies that thernGOP’s anti-abortion constituency is predominantlyrnfound below the Mason-rnDixon line:rnIf anything, southern Christiansrnwere the low men on the Reaganiterntotem pole, coddled far lessrnthan tax activists in the prosperousrnAPRIL 1999/43rnrnrn