Let's talk about the neo-Confederates of today, the party of the Confederacy. For a lot of leftists, that's the Republican Party because they believe there was a big switch, and the Republican Party is now the party of the Confederacy. But this is not true. The Republican Party, in fact, remains anchored to its Lincoln tradition, while the Democrats remain the party of racism.
There's a very interesting article in American Greatness by Victor Davis Hanson talking about the strange way in which the progressive North, specifically the cities in the North, has become like the Old South. Let's think for a moment about the Old South. It was a racially obsessed society, not merely in the line between white and black and the idea that the blacks were inferior and deserved to be slaves, but in the very strange way that the poor whites in the South were themselves — even though they had no direct stake in slavery — taught largely by the Democrats a kind of racial ideology. One that said you might be a poor farmer, you may not have much money, but you're superior to all the blacks in the region. You have a higher position on the totem pole due to race. Race became the determining factor in the Old South.
The old Confederacy used the ideas of state's rights to try and overturn national norms and federal laws, used to cast a kind of veto over the federal policy, particularly policies put in place by the Republicans. The Old South was also very hierarchical. It was a top-down society; it was run by elites, particularly by people who owned the big plantations. The normal size of the plantation in America had about 10 to 20 slaves. But the people who owned 500, 1000, in some cases 2000 slaves, these were the giant plantations, hugely profitable, and this was the sort of aristocracy of the Old Confederate South.
But the South was stagnant. It did produce cotton, but apart from that, it didn't produce a whole lot else. So what happened is, as immigrants came to America, they didn't go to the South. They went to the North because there were jobs, there was opportunity, and there was upward mobility. The dynamic part of America was the industrial North, places like Detroit, Baltimore, and Boston — and later places like San Francisco and Seattle as the country was settled all the way across the continent.
Here's the interesting point: If you look at the progressive Northern cities today, they have all these qualities that I just described that characterized the Old South.
You go to northern cities, they are racially obsessed, they want to hand out university positions based on race. They want to hand out jobs based on race. Everything depends on whether you are white or black. And once you've been marked as one or the other, you can't get out of it. There's no sense that you get to determine your own future. The idea is that you are immediately classified, which determines whether or not you have more or less opportunity. Even the laws enshrine these racial categories.
Northern cities, some of them, have become sanctuary cities. They use state's rights to say they don't have to follow the immigration laws and allow illegals to come here, then give them drivers' licenses, state aid, and college scholarships. What is this if not an effort on the part of these cities and states to nullify, to override, to get around federal laws in exactly the same way that the old Confederacy used state's rights for the same purpose?
If you look at northern cities such as San Francisco, they're very hierarchical. There's a small group of people, the Silicon Valley moguls, the political types like Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi, they pretty much run the place. They are operating like a hereditary aristocracy, and no rules apply to them. No walls for anybody else? They have tall walls. No guns for anyone else? They have guns and private security. They function like the old slaveowner class in which they operate in a kind of upper-tier that is not available to anyone else.
These cities are now stagnant, just like the Old South. There's no real opportunity there. Yes, you can come in as a busboy and end up as a waiter, but there's not a whole lot else you can do. You're stuck. The working class is stuck. In fact, many of them live in shanty-like conditions, almost like the old slave quarters.
And so you see a movement today which is the opposite of the movement in the 19th Century. Then, people were moving away from the South and toward the opportunity-filled industrial cities of the North. But now think about it. People are moving out of New York and New Jersey, they're moving away from cities like Detroit and Baltimore. Why? Because those places have become hell-holes to a degree. It's no fun anymore to live there. And those people have been moving where? They've been moving south and west to places like Texas and Florida.
I think Victor Davis Hanson is on to something here, and that is that you now have — in a strange way — liberal America resembling the Old South while conservative America, particularly the cities of the conservative South and the rural areas of the South, representing new zones of American opportunity and social mobility.