Don Siegelman: Why Southern Democrats matter in elections.


My article was inspired by NYT coloumnist Mara Gay’s article “Why Southern Democrats Saved Biden”

Donald Trump’s 2016 announcement for president attacking Mexicans, the battle over the Confederate Flag in South Carolina, and his endorsement by a grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan rattled skeletons in the closet‘s of white progressive Southerners who remember George Wallace and other bigots’s appeals to white supremacy as a means to get votes and power. It’s a frightening comparison to an evil political nightmare that is too painful to relive. The similarities are real and the consequences too grave for us as individuals or for our nation.

While President Trump is the focal point of Democrats, the 2020 election should not be about him but about working families, their children, and their parents. This election should be about providing the best education possible, the realization of more and better jobs, new uses for renewable energy to combat climate change. We live in the richest country in the world where no one should go hungry, homeless, or without healthcare. No one should be left behind — not the poor, not the mentally or physically challenged, and not those behind bars. Therefore, this election must also be about equal justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and criminal justice reform.

Those are many of us who are old enough to remember the fight for civil rights in the 50s and 60s and the quest for “a peace candidate” to end the war in Vietnam. We also know things can change, the world can get better, that if we work long enough and hard enough and come together behind a candidate, in whom we believe and trust, we can make this nation what we know can and should be.

In order for Democrats to win, they will have to break the Republican strong hold in the south. This is the first positive sign for Democrats since Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Two southerners who disrtupted the Republicans southern strategy.

About the author: Don E. Siegelman served as the Governor of Alabama, 1999–2003, Lt. Governor, 1995–1999, Attorney General, 1987–1991 and Secretary of State 1979–1987. 

He is the author of, Stealing Our Democracy (New South Books, June 16, 2020) In his book, he traces the similarities of George Wallace and Donald Trump.