Big Government’s Southern Strategy

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Recently, I made a crack about the militarist bent of the rural South and noted tangentially how little support Southern states have given to Ron Paul. I was greeted with the response I expected: A legion of dour Southern men informing me that the South is actually a bastion of libertarianism. Well pardon my skepticism, but let’s look at the facts.

Even if the South was a block devoted to libertarianism at some time in the distant past, that is certainly not the case today. There are three reasons I say this:
1. The South has a disproportionate number of military bases and military employees, and in recent years has become the region most affiliated with the military and militarism.
2. The South is a tax-receiver region. While northern and western states produce the wealth, the federal government redistributes that wealth the South. The South receives more than one dollar for each dollar it pays in taxes. The opposite is true on the north and west.
3. The South shows the least per capita support for Ron Paul To expand on number 1. Over the past several decades the South has become more and more the recipient of government largesse in the form of military bases and military spending. The recent base closures only accelerated the trend of closing bases in the north and moving them to the South. The CSM explains here. This has been a tactic of conservatives to reward the Solid Republican South in recent years with more and more military spending. And it has worked. The South is more Republican than ever, and the votes have been bought with military spending in the region.

Number 2 – The fact that the South is a tax receiver region is linked both to its vast military industry, but also to its agriculture. Agricultural regions are notoriously dependent on government welfare, so the more industrialized north is naturally going to benefit less from such dollars. Yet, it is clear that states like Colorado, California, Wash., Illinois, New York, etc., pay more than 1 dollar for every dollar they receive from the feds while states like Alabama, Lousiana, Miss, Kentucky, Tennesee, and S. Carolina receive more than 1 dollar for each dollar paid in. Simply put, the South lives off the wealth of the north and west. Admittedly, the agricultural states of the West also receive much largesse, especially those states that receive the monstrous ethanol subsidies.

And finally, Number 3. Ron Paul. Looking at the 4th quarter map from, it quickly becomes apparent that there are 2 regions where Paul receives the least support – the Great Lakes and the South. It is possible that we may attribute the weakness in the Great Lakes region to labor unionism but the fact remains that the absolutely weakest states for Ron Paul are Miss., Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

Looking here, we see that The core of Ron Paul’s support is in states like Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Montana, Idaho, New Hampshire, Texas, Wyoming, and Arizona. In fact, there are twice as many Coloradans per million donating to Ron Paul than in Alabama. Specifically, Colorado has 187 per million and Alabama has a paltry 97 per million. Washington state has a laudable 211 per million and Mississippi has a shameful 62 per million. Arkansas has a lame 94 per million and Arizona has a fabulous 198 per million.

What would we expect from a region that benefits so mightily from the business of big government and war?

10:16 pm on November 6, 2007