12/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Maybe the Civil War Isn't Over

Over the past week, the symbolic and substantive enormity of Obama's election has been slowly settling in to the nation's collective consciousness. Commentators, including myself, have reached for the history books to lay down words about "what it means." (I settled on the triumph of good over evil.) The most obvious is marking a new chapter in America's checkered racial history. Some have observed that Tuesday was the final shot in the war that began on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter. (That would be the civil war in case those details don't ring a bell.) My friend Marc Cooper, in his LA Weekly column, quoted a friend saying "the hands that picked the cotton were the hands that are picking the next President," which sounded a little heavy, uh, handed -- until I saw this:


The Civil War might be over, but the War Between the States lives on. The good news is that the lingering resentments of that time might have finally lost their political power. Enough of the rest of the country has moved on, as is noted in this New York Times article, that the South is becoming politically irrelevant. And with it the GOP, which has staked its fortunes on exploiting the region's resentments. When half your congressional delegation is from the South, and the Southern Strategy is no longer working, you need a new idea. Let's see if Newt Gingrich or Bobby Jindal or -- gulp! -- Sarah Palin can come up with one.