UPDATE - I am cleaning up the text, as the original needs it. Thanks for the edits. - CSK
You may have noticed that a lot of Southerners don't like Democrats very much, a rather amusing change of polarity given that once upon a time this region where I have lived all my life was known as the Solid South - solidly Democratic. While there are signs of change in the works...some of our fine Southern conservative brethren just aren't likely to change their views on change. These are the true reactionaries and unfortunately they have disproportionate influence in Southern politics.
Integration of the armed forces...desegregation in the schools and on the heels of those achievements that most outrageous insult of all - civil rights and the effective end of poll taxes and other modes of voter intimidation... until bashing on minority voters became cool all over again with the reactionary set.
Through party switches and Southern strategies, hurricanes and oil spills one thing about the South has remained constant - and racism is but a part of it - conservatism of a nature that is hard even for residents of this region to understand.
For despite all the Rapturist talk in fundamentalist circles these days, it's not Revelation that these folks look to - it's Exodus.
For it has become a religion unto itself, a widespread (not universal - just widespread!) view in that South that the South is its own tribe, a subjugated people in its very own Goshen, looking for a Moses to deliver it from bitter bondage in thrall to a methaphorical Egypt.
You've heard the news accounts. You've read the polls and checked out the Pundit Wrap-up from today's front page - Obama could remark that oxygen is a good idea and his detractors in the South would condemn the very notion. Perhaps they would hold their breaths until they turned blue... except many such persons like being white too much.
However, this is not about skin pigmentation or race. That's important.
Alright, then..what's up with that? Economic and ecological disaster, that's what.
The latest monoculture cash crop, offshore petroleum, has failed them and dragged at least two other industries, fishing and tourism, down with it in a flash of fire, death and a subsurface supervolcano of oil that, if the higher-end estimates hold up, could inject well over a 100 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
If it's THAT much poison being put into play, it will wreck far more than the Gulf of Mexico. It will smear an amber stain of death up the Eastern Seaboard and across the Atlantic to Europe, compliments of the Gulf Stream.
When the hurricanes return - and they are returning - this contamination will sweep deep inland in streaks resembling fallout patterns, cutting deep into the North American continent. Pro-oil politicians such as Joe Barton of Texas will learn in short order that oil spills in the ocean really can hurt them, too. Perhaps not Joe, per se... but one of his many colleagues that signed a love note to BP the day before his now-infamous apology at the altar of PetroGod.
So, you have an economy taking a potential $200 billion annual hit - oil production, tourism and fishing. I have not even mentioned the balance sheet effects - damages to fish stocks, watercraft, interruption in ocean transport contracts, obviation of the value of oil and natural gas leases...and slashes in the value of coastal commercial and residential real estate. Did I mention the hits to state, county and local tax receipts? The solvency of governments throughout the Gulf region. Well let's add that to the list of damages, too.
So we are talking a LOT of damage to public, commercial and private income streams and asset values. What's the present value of 10-15 years of $50 billion a year in lost revenue? The range is between $350 and $600 billion dollars. Nice, huh?
And you know what? British Petroleum gets off with setting aside, brace yourself, a whopping $20 billion escrow fund.
Excuse me - a verbal commitment to set aside a whopping $20 billion escrow fund.
Just on lost income alone that's between two and four pennies on the dollar.
And I've not even touched on the total asset value depletion on the coasts.
And don't even get me started on what this little ecocaust is going to do to native species - dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, pelicans, gulls, shore birds, egrets, herons and those staples of the region - shrimp and oysters.
I got to restaurants now. Southerners have a wide variety of seafood to choose from.
Rather, they did once. Stores here in Charlotte are running light on shrimp. Oysters? Forget it. I look at menus and my heart dies every time. Yes, shrimp is still there... but for how long? And if I eat it...when will be the last time? Should I even think of ingesting something that may well become an endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to this subsurface supervolcano of oil?
There... we've outlined the material values damaged by the oil spill.
So, you get the idea. The region not only needs help - it will need help on a very long-run perhaps perpetual basis.
And yet there remain residents hostile, openly so, to any aid and comfort from an enemy occupier - for that, my friends, is how a certain subset of Southerner relates to the administration of the country by Democrats.
Oh, that the current occupant of the Oval Office is a black man just adds a dash of salt to the wound but it's not THE driver.
For a short while, the conservatives of the South ran America. They lost the Civil War long ago. Then in 1994 through the takeover of Congress they conquered the rest of the country. And, boy, did they like that feeling.
Twelve years later, in shame and disgrace and astonishing corruption and incompetency, they lost control of Congress.
And two years later a black man is President of the United States. Yes.. he's multi-racial. So is almost every African-American in the United States of America whose ancestors were booked on the Middle Passage.
The multi-racial character of the South is a fact of life that everyone the region gets; they just don't always acknowledge it. It's too obvious to deny, too uncomfortable to accept. So they do neither. They shrug, say "so?" and continue not noticing.
So, what does the Gulf Oil Spill mean? For people who are allergic to change - not all Southerners, but quite a few! - the world as they hold it dear is dying before their very eyes - economically, politically, demographically...and environmentally, all at once.
But such reactionaries will never, ever wish to admit the Democrats, the liberals, the outsiders, "those people" were right in any way.
Yet now the region needs massive aid from the Federal government or it will suffer in all the ways I pointed out above.
Naturally, getting some help would be nice. Heck, I'd be grateful.
Not everyone concurs.
For some amongst my conservative brethren it is the most bitter of shames from having to need help from someone they absolutely detest in every particular. And you know what? They'll never ask for help, and act like it is the most insulting and hateful of things to be offered help... then they'll to the last quietly accept it. And hate, HATE Democrats for being the ones to give them aid in their time of need.
And such persons as these will never, EVER be grateful.
They would rather lose everything, even die as a culture rather than show genuine gratitude to someone they've written off as an outsider.
It goes way past racism - it's a religion to this type of Southerner, and that type is overwhelmingly white and old. Gender and education have little to do with it. Male and female alike, learned and ignorant alike, those that choose to worship in the Church of RepubliJesus have no truck with the entire lot of us.
And you know what? They're all to the last scared to death.
Of what is happening.
Of what the future brings.
Of change itself, no matter who or what is delivering it.
They are terrified that this is the end of their way of life. They fully recognize the implications of turning the Gulf of Mexico into a giant copy of the Dead Sea.
That's why tension is even higher now than before - because it's clear as day the South is going to need a LOT of Federal aid to get through this.
Aid they will block at every turn and, once they have help in hand, they will decry it as Federal government oppression and wastefulness all over again.
Because they hate us. They hate us exactly that much that they would rather die than love us.
But they'll take the aid and spit in our faces as they do so.
And being what we are, with absolutely no hope of gratitude or reward, we'll give them aid in their time of need.
Because it's what we do for our fellow Americans.
Even those who will never acknowledge us as their fellow countrymen.