Why Does Mississippi Vote Republican?

This post will attempt to explain why Mississippi is a Republican stronghold today.

But before doing that, let’s describe another state – call it State X. Looking at State X is very useful for analyzing why Mississippi votes Republican. I invite you to guess what state it is.

Here is a description of State X. Demographically, State X is very rural and very white. There are no major cities in the state; one has to cross state lines and drive more than a hundred miles to find the nearest metropolitan area. Racially, the state is homogeneously white; indeed, it is the second whitest state in the entire nation.

State X has almost always been a one-party stronghold, and that party has generally been the Republican Party. The Republican Party has almost always taken this state’s electoral votes; indeed, it voted for a Republican president for more than a century. State X has only elected one Democratic senator in its entire history.

I am talking, of course, about Vermont.

Despite its history of supporting Republicans, Vermont is currently a one-party Democratic stronghold. In 2008 it gave President Barack Obama 67.5% of the vote. It currently sends Socialist Bernie Sanders to the Senate (in addition to Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the only Democrat the Green Mountain state has ever sent to the Senate).

What does this have to do with Mississippi voting Republican?

Well, Vermont and Mississippi almost never vote the same way for president:

Link to Table of Mississippi and Vermont Voting Patterns

Indeed, there are only seven elections out of 48 total (since Mississippi became a state) that the two have supported the same candidate for president: 1820, 1840, 1872, 1972, 1980, 1984, and most recently 1988.

Oftentimes during presidential landslides, Mississippi or Vermont are the only states which refuse to go along with the rest of the country. In 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt won an enormous landslide, taking the highest percentage in the electoral vote since the beginning of the two-party system. The only states to go against him? Maine – and Vermont.

In 1964, on the other hand, President Lyndon B. Johnson likewise won a stunning landslide, taking the highest percentage in the popular vote since the beginning of the two-party system. This time, however, it was Mississippi that went against the president.

In 2012, barring an epic meltdown on either the Democratic or Republican nominee, Mississippi will vote Republican and Vermont will vote Democratic. This trend is likely to continue in as far as the eye can see into the future.

It seems that there is just something that drives Mississippi and Vermont different ways. Vermont is a symbol of the Yankee North; Mississippi of the Deep South. Since the founding of America, the two have been culturally and socially at odds. Sometimes this division occurs in trivial ways, such as nasty stereotypes or different voting patterns. Sometimes the division takes on much more significance, most famously in the Civil War.

So to answer the question in the post’s title, Mississippi votes Republican because Vermont votes Democratic. Or, to put it another way, Vermont votes Democratic because Mississippi votes Republican. And as long as presidential elections continue to happen, Mississippi will probably be voting the opposite way of Vermont.

--Inoljt, mypolitikal.com 

 

New Frontier Farmers and Processor Group: Reviving Farmland and Improving Livelihoods

This is the seventh piece in an eight part series about the  Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development's (ECASARD) work in Ghana. Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

In Anamaase, Ghana, the New Frontier Farmers and Processor group is led by the village's chief. Osbararima Mana Tibi II is a self described "young leader (he's 50 years old) with a love for the environment." He took it upon himself when he became chief, he says, to help revive farmland and improve the lives of the farmers in his village of about 5,000 people. And the chief is also helping farmers become more business-oriented. "We're always thinking about how to process the crops we're growing," he says. According to him, farmers don't have a lot of bargaining power in most villages in Ghana, but "processing gives them more leverage.

One of the groups' biggest accomplishments since it began in 1992, according to Chief Mana Tibi, is organizing palm oil processing groups. Typically, farmers collect palm oil fruits and sell them to a processor, instead of processing and extracting the oil-and having the opportunity to make additional income- themselves.

But by "coming together," says the Chief, and building three palm oil processing centers, farmers are able to boil, ferment, and press the palm fruits themselves, allowing them to make a better profit. The processing plants, or "service centers," which are run mainly by women, also help save time and labor because the community is working together to process and then package the oil. And because the three facilities aren't enough to "fill the need" they're working on building three or four additional processing plants.

The group is also involved in helping restore watersheds and barren land through agroforestry. They've started growing nitrogen-fixing trees, including Lucina to help restore soils, as well other trees, such as the so-called "green gold of Ghana," moringa. When they're processed into powder, the leaves of the moringa tree are very high in protein and can be manufactured into formula for malnourished children. And because the processing of moringa into powder "generates a lot of trash," says Chief Tibi, the stalks and other leftover parts of the plant can be used as fodder for animals. New Frontier is also providing moringa seedlings to a group of 40 people living with HIV/AIDS, who not only use moringa as a nutritional supplement, but are also growing moringa to earn income.

The group is doing some of its own community-based research by testing the effect moringa has on livestock. According to their research, feeding sheep moringa leaves has reduced fat in the meat dramatically, "making it taste more like bushmeat," and it lasts longer when it is preserved than regular mutton. They've also found that goats who eat moringa are healthier.

In addition, the Chief is hoping that the business opportunities provided by moringa and other crops, will help make agriculture and agribusiness more attractive to youth and prevent their "drift" to the cities. He's created a Amanmae Fe, or home of tradition, a place in  the community that uses dancing and music "to bait the youth," says the  Chief. By bringing them together, he hopes the youth will learn more about their traditions and the ways of growing food that were in Ghana before Western interventions, as well as more modern practices that can help increase production and improve their livelihoods.

Please don't forget to check out our other posts about ECASARD's work in Ghana: Part 1: Working with the Root; Part 2: Something that Can't be Qualified; Part 3: With ECASARD You Can See A Real Impact; Part 4: The Abooman Women's Group: Working Together to Improve Livelihoods; Part 5: The Abooman Women's Group: We Started Our Own Thing; and Part 6: Making a Living Out of Conservation.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
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Immigrants in America: A Hollywood Perspective

Over the years Hollywood has produced a vivid record of the immigrant experience in America. Although many movies are controversial on matters of fact, they nonetheless provide a valuable insight into how immigrants are seen and represented in the mainstream.

The film industry is significantly positioned to examine America’s changing cultural identity and bring to the public’s attention the stories of immigrant communities. Ever since the 1920s studios have presented audiences with dramatized accounts of the individual immigrant’s experience adjusting to America and their attempts at upward mobility. Be they nostalgic or critical, such films helped fill a gap in the general public’s knowledge and pave the way for more socially conscious filmmaking.

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April 14: The Next Landmark Day For Immigrant Equality

Wednesday April 14 will be a landmark day for ensuring the equality of all voices in the American public sphere.  It is the day that Ugly Betty, the popular ABC series chronicling a young Mexican-American woman’s adventures of beating the odds in the Big Apple, will come to an end after four seasons. That same evening, The Opportunity Agenda will convene artists, advocates, and media makers in New York City for conversation and collaboration on the power of arts, culture, and media activities in promoting the dignity and human rights of immigrants in the United States.  What do these two events have to do with each other and the broader fight for equality in America? Everything.

Giving equal respect to the stories and voices of all who live here is an essential democratic value and critical to expanding opportunity in America. Since 2006, Ugly Betty (starring actress America Ferrera) has confronted such hot-button subjects as body image, gay teenagers, and, notably, illegal immigration without becoming expressly political or polarizing. When the first season revealed that Betty’s father, Ignacio Suarez (Tony Plana), was undocumented and could be deported, the show received both cheers and jeers for touching such a sensitive issue at the height of the immigration debate during the Bush administration.

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Immigration: Arts, Culture & Media 2010

A true shift in consciousness can only come when people begin to see the world not as it is, but as it should be. While advocates can provide powerful arguments and compelling data, it is artists and media makers who create a window into the possible.

To truly move hearts and minds, artists, advocates, and media makers must collaborate deeply, developing a shared vision and a coordinated set of strategies for achieving it.

It was with this in mind that The Opportunity Agenda launched our Arts + Culture Initiative. The hope is to create a space for collaboration, strengthening the work of advocates and allowing artists and media makers to make an impact on the issues that matter to them. Designed to move the social justice movement towards greater innovation, the Initiative serves as a catalyst for inspiration and action, incubating new ideas, relationships, and opportunities to move beyond traditional modes of organizing and activating constituencies.

Our next event is entitled Immigration: Arts, Culture & Media 2010; A Timely Conversation with Artists and Advocates. Taking place Wednesday, April 14, the forum will explore the power of arts, culture, and media activities in promoting the dignity and human rights of immigrants in the United States.

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