Why the Southern Tradition is Winning

The title of this piece may seem odd in light of recent events in New Orleans and the mass hysteria over all things Confederate since June 2015. Monuments have come down, flags have been furled, and streets have been renamed.

While these are certainly loses, they are mere skirmishes in a wider cultural war that the Left is losing. They know it, but they don’t want you to realize it, and their allies in the mainstream media keep peppering the news cycle with stories trumpeting their “successes.” This is done to demoralize the opposition.

But consider the following:

1. Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election following an election strategy that mirrored Nixon’s “Silent Majority” 1972 campaign. Nixon relied heavily on Southern votes that cycle and Trump’s political agenda, while not entirely backed by Southern antecedents, contains core components that are recognized elements of the Southern tradition. Not “racism and bigotry” as the Leftist media would claim, but anti-establishment, blue-collar populism.

2. Secession is on the table. Several states, not only in the South, are considering methods to leave the American empire. Nothing is more Southern than the principle of independence, both for the individual and for a political community. The establishment keeps blabbering that secession is illegal–the Supreme Court said so in 1869 (but it really didn’t)–and that the War settled the issue, but it couldn’t. Coupled with the now robust “Tenth Amendment” and modern “nullification” movements, this renewed interest in all things federalism was not as mainstream just ten years ago. Thank the Internet for that. What is it that “Net Neutrality” is for again? Right.

3. Generation snowflake is now playing defense. Though these delicate flowers have wrestled major concessions from the American academy, much of this is an illusion. Certainly, some college and university administrations have buckled, even recently, but the push back against the illiberal “liberals” has come from both the Right and the Left. The snowflakes may have bitten off more than they can chew. The majority of Americans also don’t think the thugish tactics by the left are legal, necessary, or tolerable. And when a leader of the “Take ‘Em Down NOLA” group openly admits that he would love to see a statue of George Washington removed in New Orleans because he was a “slave master,” it appears the Left has overplayed their hand. Most Americans would draw the line at that demand. We have to remember that Washington is as Southern as Lee. The Left might be able to pick the low hanging fruit–anything Confederate fits that category–but they can’t eliminate Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, the Declaration of Independence the United States Constitution or a host of other Southern–yes Southern–symbols without changing the entire narrative of American history. They have been trying that for years. It hasn’t worked and it won’t work. Real America is too savvy for that. Remember the Southern tradition is more than a four year struggle for independence. Even if those symbols are removed, the tradition survives.

4. The Left has been trying for decades to “contextualize”–meaning Yankeefy–Southern history. They have made great strides in doing so, but this war isn’t over. Not even close. Many people around the world see the South in a positive light. When the Berlin Wall came down, Confederate flags flew beside the unified German flag. Confederate flags are still seen around the world, and to many people, the flag represents anti-establishment defiance. Northerners also proudly fly the flag. It cannot be eliminated, no matter how hard the Left may try.

The vitriolic outcry against Trump’s opinion that the War could have been avoided is indicative of a larger problem for the Left. After decades of controlling the American academy, of dominating the mainstream media, of crafting the “correct” interpretation of history, a large percentage of Americans still don’t buy what they are selling. The Left would chalk it up to ignorance, but perhaps real America knows more than the self-appointed gatekeepers of acceptable thought. It seems that journalists, left-wing professors, and their pseudohistorian allies rank with politicians as the least trusted people in the United States. That is a good thing.

About Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of five books, 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and Four Who Tried to Save Her (Regnery History, 2016), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He received a B.A. in History from Salisbury University in 1997 and an M.A. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1999. He finished his Ph.D. in History at the University of South Carolina in 2006, and had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student. He lives in Alabama with his wife and three daughters. More from Brion McClanahan

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