THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOUTHERN POLITICS: Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945 by Jack & Walter de Vries Bass

THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOUTHERN POLITICS: Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

After conducting 360 interviews of politicians, journalists, and academic observers in eleven states, Bass and de Vries find a transformed South. The one-party system, racial discrimination against voters, and malapportionment of state legislatures have all but disappeared, they say, and the motive force of Southern politics is now rapid economic growth. If the authors strain credulity in declaring that the South is often more solidly liberal than the North, certainly the proliferation of Republican governors, the rapid rise in the black vote, and the decline of racism as a campaign ploy are notable. Yet there are only two black people among every 100 elected officials, by the book's own account, and strong traces of a restrictive political life still remain. Representative of the state-by-state case studies are the decline in Wallace support (and the eclipse of Bull Connor) in Alabama and the breakup of backwater tyranny in Florida (though reference to earlier progressives like Senator Claude Pepper belies the stereotype of reactionary strangleholds). The authors conclude that the South ""has joined the nation's political mainstream,"" whatever that means today, and has shed ""the sense of guilt and shame and pessimism that so recently prevailed."" A major work of reportage and compilation, though it never approaches the enjoyable profundity of the first political demographer of the South, V. O. Key.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books