After visiting my aunt yesterday in East Tennessee, I phoned her siblings. My uncle, 81, recalled a family reunion where he was shunned because his Kentucky grandfather married into a family whose ancestors had been Confederates or Confederate sympathizers.
Lingering post-Civil War animosity in southern Appalachia took the form of Republican descendants of Union sympathizers versus Democratic descendants of Confederate sympathizers. The region was split evenly between the Dems, the GOP and Independents.
Party loyalties began to flip in 1964, when Goldwater swept the old South, culminating with Republican victories the 1994 midterm elections. That year Senator Richard Shelby switched parties. He was elected as a young Democrat. In January, he’ll retire as an old Republican.
Rusty Bowers‘ willingness to support Donald Trump in 2024 after his 2020 actions illustrates the depth of our partisan identities. Since yesterday, I’ve been humming The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” It’s a song with a catchy tune and a fascinating history.