The Plight of the South
This article is being written on election day but before the result of the voting can possibly be known. The suggestions it contains will still be pertinent whatever the story told by the first page this morning. It makes very little difference what any of us think about the outcome of yesterday’s balloting. It makes a considerable difference whether or not the people of the South realize the precarious situation which this section has come to occupy politically.
As yet we doubt if very many of them do realize this; and yet it is, we think, the outstanding political development of the time so far as we are concerned. Look at the facts. They are not pleasant to contemplate, but they cannot be ignored longer. We are in a sad fix politically in this part of the country and if we are to find a remedy for our troubles we must first of all determine what they are. That will take considerable discussion and all we can hope to do now is to help start the ball of this discussion rolling. If that can be accomplished we may achieve the new program and the new leadership which we so much need.
For at the root of the South’s present plight lies the fact that it has today virtually no national program and virtually no national leadership. Is it strange that it should be treated by the rest of the country as such a negligible force? What is it contributing today in the way of political thought? What political leaders has it who possess weight or authority beyond their own States? What constructive policies are its people ready to fight for with the brains and zeal that made them a power in the old days?
The plight of the South in these respects would be perilous at any time. In a period when political currents are deeper and swifter than ever before, with more violent whirlpools, more dangerous rocks and shoals, our is truly a perilous position. Changes which used to be decades in the making now sweep over us almost before we know they are in contemplation. It is true everywhere. In all the countries of Europe the pendulum is swinging, now far to the left, now far to the right. Center parties have lost their power. They are in a very bad way. And the South has belonged to the school politically which sought as a rule the middle of the road, eschewing ultra-conservatism on the one hand and radicalism on the other. With Labor organized and militant, with radicalism organized and in deadly earnest, with conservatism organized and drawing the lines sharply, what is the South to do, what course shall she take, where do her interests lie, what is due to happen to her?
These are questions which already begin to press for answer. Who is to speak for the South? How many of her citizens are prepared to help formulate her replies?