A couple of recent news articles should make the blood of any tradition-friendly Southerner run cold:
Trump carried the Gem State by 2 to 1 against Hillary Clinton in 2016. While he’ll easily win there against Joe Biden, polls show he'll be lucky to do as well this year. Idaho-registered Democrats increased 47% between November 2016 and June 2020, or almost twice the rate of new Republicans during the past four years. The state’s dynamic business diversity likely has a role in its changing politics.
And from The Washington Post:
In the four years since the last presidential election, at least 2 million people have moved to Texas, many of them Democrats from places like California, Florida, New York and Illinois. An estimated 800,000 young Latino Americans have turned 18, and a wave of immigrants became naturalized citizens. More than 3 million Texans have registered to vote.
Dig a little deeper into the changing demographics of most of these ‘red’ States and the narrative connecting them is that people are moving to take advantage of their growing economies.
This raises two important questions.
First, what is a State? Is it primarily an economic enterprise that exists to provide good-paying jobs with good benefits to anyone who can make it within her borders? However shallow and crass it might strike the ear, that is the view that predominates, and, therefore, the only goal that really matters is having a dynamic, modern, expanding economy. In such a State, people become empty ciphers, replaceable parts, in service to the mechanical dynamo that presses out the blessed manna of GDP. It really doesn’t matter where they come from or what they believe, so long as they are ‘productive workers’.
What is missing in that conception of a State is any idea of the preservation and nurturing of a particular, deeply rooted, long-growing culture and the practices that grow out of it. In a society that honors and lives its historical culture, people are not faceless, nameless spare parts: Each person, according to the gifts given him by the Holy Ghost, is instead a unique defender and transmitter of that culture, and a creator within it of new and loftier possibilities.
But this state of affairs should not strike anyone as all that unusual given that the foundational political documents of the current union, the constitutions of the 50 States and the Philadelphia charter of 1787, are written with as much touching eloquence as the instruction manual for an electric toaster oven. In the Preamble of the Philadelphia charter, we read about ‘establishing justice’, ‘promoting the general welfare’, and ‘securing the blessings of liberty’. Justice and welfare according to what standards? Liberty to do what? These vague and undefined words are a great aid to radical groups like Antifa and BLM (or LGBT activists and the rest), who give them a meaning consistent with their Marxism and then agitate for their fulfilment.
Our constitutions, if we are to continue with written ones, need to read like a poetic historical narrative, defining who we are as Southerners in general and as the folk of Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee, etc., in particular. Let us speak of the Holy Trinity; of Jesus Christ the God-man, born of a Virgin for our salvation; of Jamestown and the agrarian vision; of Pindar, Homer, and Horace; of Sir William Berkeley and William Gilmore Simms and General Lee; of Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty; of the common law, ancient political institutions, and hierarchy; of literature and songs. Then our children and generations beyond them will have a much better idea of what is meant when words like justice and freedom are used in our constitutions; they will know something of the community of which they are a real and integral part.
To help safeguard such an order of things, we must now raise the second question. If States in the South and elsewhere are really alarmed at the prospect of ‘turning blue’, if they have seen the vanity of the view that the people exist for the sake of the economy (rather than the economy existing for the sake of the people), how can they prevent it? The power to regulate immigration must be removed from federal hands and placed back into the hands of each individual State. The free movement of people across State boundaries is destroying what is left of their historical identities rooted in shared love and self-sacrifice and making them barbaric dens of selfish money-making.
It hardly matters what amendments are added to written charters if the people writing them will be replaced shortly by outsiders with wholly different histories and beliefs. Each State, whether using official or unofficial processes, must take up once again the exercise of her inherent power to regulate immigration into her own lands. This is, after all, not a game being played for the sake of utility or expediency, but a matter of cultural survival.
Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.